Basenji Beginner

Hello! I’ve been doing a ton of research into Basenji’s and am convinced this breed would be the right fit for me. I grew up with a Jack Russell Terrier and loved him, but didn’t love some of his negative qualities. He was territorial and not very friendly to strangers. Based on my research, it seems Basenji’s could have similar characteristics. Thoughts? Also, is it true that they should not be left of their leash?

I’ve only had two. On the second one now. There are similarities and differences. Similarities are off leash. Don’t do it.

Do I do it? I have in an enclosed area. Basenjis have a strong prey drive which consumes every neuron they have. Once they catch sight of something they want... bye. This isn’t a dog that will hang lazily in the garage with you unless the doors are closed. This isn’t a dog who will keep you company while you pull weeds from the front yard beds unless you have a tall wood fence around the whole thing with nothing piled near it that they can climb up to get near and over the top.

Sure there are dogs that won’t run, but they are outliers. You may get one, but don’t plan on it. Plan on them escaping, not listening and running away... really fast. That said, they have an Achilles heal... the nose. Once they lose interest in the chase the nose rules. They will stop to investigate anything. You might catch them this way, but my first one liked the chase me game. He taught me to run back in the house, grab a couple string cheese packs, follow him leisurely, peel the package so he could hear it... new Achilles heal... favorite food. My advice... don’t let em loose.

Next question?

Properly trained from the word go, my Basenjis have always been allowed to run free. My first one was born in 1981 and we have bred them ever since, with the home pack growing to 8 for a number of years with fluctuations ever since until I was down to just two oldies.

I bought in a puppy last March and he started his recall training the day after he arrived, and long before he had had his shots and could go out in public. Here in my large garden we worked at it so that as soon as possible, he was free to run with my remaining old lady.

He runs free as a hunting hound should in forests and woodlands, over fields and on public footpaths. Obviously he can't be free on highways.

He comes racing back to a whistle from me or a call if he is out with my son or a neighbour.

In the right environment, we live out in the countryside in a small village, and with proper training a Basenji can be let off to enjoy itself

all four of my basenjis ran off the lead i made sure they were not near a road they did once chase deer but came back as soon as the deer were out of sight try with a training lead first

@jper007 It is true that they should not be off leash unless in a secure area or far away from traffic.. not that they chase cars, but they are a hunting dog and what they see they chase, they don't look for cars. Teaching them recall is important, but remember that they were bred to hunt, so the hunt is more important. And if your Basenji is loose, don't chase, call for recall and go the other way, they will check to see where you are. Here in the US there are not that many places that are safe for them off lead. And yes, they have very similar characteristics to a JRT

@tanza said in Basenji Beginner:

And if your Basenji is loose, don't chase, call for recall and go the other way, they will check to see where you are.

This is true with most dogs. The mistake people make is to chase after them, which results either in the dog playing "keep away" or assuming their person is coming with them to chase whatever they are after, so they keep going. The best way I know of catching a dog playing "keep away" is to lie down on the ground and stay still. Almost all dogs that are not distracted by something else will come to see what is going on, and if you are smart and not too abrupt, you will be able to get hold of them. With an intelligent dog, this may not work more than once!

Hello,
Good for you for researching the breed! So many do not. I will speak from my own 16 years of experience. No, I would never take a Basenji off leash as they are a sight hound and will take off. By the time they realize they are gone they will likely never make it back to you.

I love the breed but always keep in mind they are an ancient breed that I find has feral traits that come out later. They may not like strangers or children and may get jealous of a partner. The partner thing can be addressed if needed but this is not a breed I would readily throw into new situations and expect a great outcome.

As puppies all is fine - then comes the teenage phase where they become wary and some of the aggressive issues can come out including real issues with certain other dog breeds. That phase might pass but there is a general wariness I have found they grow into. You would need to be be top dog always. That said I would never resort to some old school type common dog corrections that in this breed would only bring out the bad side.

I adored my past pup and current pup but have been bitten. aggression can come out with rawhide chews and none of my pups were ever denied food or abused. This is true of all dogs but just take that up a few notches with a Basenji. It is /was just how they are. You can try and trade to remove a rawhide but good luck.

I have a sweet boy pup but know to I never let children approach without him on leash and a nice calm intro. Socialization is absolutely key but there are general traits that just come with the territory.

If you want the freedom of a pup that can go off leash anytime is easy going all the time and you can take out to events/ coffee shops AND it will be relaxed then no this may not be the best choice. I would definitely equate a lot of Basenjis to having a Jack Russell demeanor.

Please think carefully. As you may already know, once you have a handful it is too late to change your mind.

It is a fact that there are a lot of Basenjis that go to rescues because they require work and/ or have qualities that the owners did not bargain for.

Best,

Maria

@eeeefarm - Agree for the most part, but most all Basenjis will "check" back with their owners/people to keep an eye on them... so it will work most of the time.... of course unless on a really, really good scent

Yes.
Every dog, every Basenji can be different but in my experience this is a breed that stands their ground.
Call it stubborn. Call it territorial.
But be prepared to either flex, consider your battles on what is truly important or,
Know that positive reinforcement is the greatest tool in your tool belt.
This is not a breed for the faint of heart.
However, if you love independent thinking, marvel at mischief and respect and love a dog that identifies and loves you back because they choose to do so.
Not because you feed or caretaker them.
It is because they choose to love you.
Be prepared for walks. Chases. Adventures.

@tanza said
“........> all Basenjis will "check" back with their owners/people to keep an eye on them.”
I agree - they definitely want to make sure their owner is nearby - it is funny. I personally could NEVER let me B off leash due to to the fact we live in a suburban/urban area with a lot of traffic. We do summer in a rural area and I do regret not training her on RECALL so I could let her off leash (too late now - too old for both of us) - lol. I would have loved that she could have run free! Overall, I think you have to consider your living environment before you consider RECALL OFF LEASH training for the safety of your basenji.

@kembe - You should always teach recall... and if you live in a suburban/urban area, consider doing lure coursing with your hound... it is great fun for them and you get to see them run free

My Basenjis were both trained with a recall.
My Naomi never really needed it, after the first fateful escape, where she ran around me in a huge circle, popping up on her hind legs to let me know that a jackrabbit was coming my way, please catch it.

She soon realized that I was a real dud on the hunting front, and gave up trying to hunt with me. Poor little Naomi!

She loved her agility classes, and never once left my side. She didn’t even learn that there was a fence around the huge field where classes where held.
My theory is that she enjoyed agility so much, she wasn’t interested in losing her chance to play.

Because of her enthusiasm for agility, I thought I’d try her in rally; not a chance. She completely ignored every command I gave her. She, unlike Tess, who managed to get several titles in rally, thought rally was worthless!!

Tess really never paid much attention to me with agility. She didn’t run away, she just got too distracted.
In one class, she obligingly ran the course for me, then ignored me, turned around and did the entire course backwards!!

Tess also left the ring during obedience on the recall running straight past me and over the baby gate, into the park. She did return to me, just in Basenji fashion,
after I watched her little bagel-tail disappear over the crease of the hill!!

Tess also left my side on the off-leash, to ready herself to jump the baby-gate to go grab another dogs dumbbell. I yelled “come” at the top of my lungs to break her focus. She returned to my side. We were dismissed. I used undue force in my recall, according to the judge. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Who wants their basenji to be the cause of another dog’s upset??

Needless to say, Tess and I had a pretty rough go at obedience. She really didn’t have a workmanlike temperament. She makes an incredible, delightful pet!!![alt text](![image url](![image url](![0_1605815382686_2D4C5381-0BFD-47FD-BBF8-570378EDEC1C.jpeg](Uploading 96%) image url)))

Basenjis seem to do things in their own ways. They readily learn tasks, but then perform them with their own spin.

Tess will still take the chance to run out the door. The behavior is very self rewarding. She runs to the open space behind our house and then comes right back, the little stinker.
She does come back on a recall, but I don’t usually get the chance, as she is so quick to return.

Basenjis just aren’t like other dogs. They aren’t as eager to please. But they are quite wonderful, if you are willing to take them on their own terms.

Would I ever train another basenji in obedience?
Yes.
Would I ever show another basenji in obedience?
Yes.
Would I expect consistent behavior in different venues.
Nope.
Would I enjoy the heck out of working with an unique and very intelligent dog?
You bet!

Basenjis can be very similar to Jack Russells. That being said, every dog has its very own personality based on genetics and life experiences. If you want a guaranteed people friendly dog, get a different breed or adopt an adult basenji who is proven to be people friendly. I've heard basenjis described as independent dogs - not true! Mine want to be with me and supervise everything I do. I went to a home to pick up a basenji whose owners wanted to relinquish him to rescue. The dog had excavated impressive 6' wide 5' deep trenches all along the fence line in the back yard. The owners tried to fill the trenches with cinder blocks and couldn't figure out how to stop him digging. Turns out, they kept the basenji in the back yard while the family spent time playing in the front yard. He just wanted to be with them!!! He never once attempted to dig at my house where he was fostered for several weeks. It has been my experience that almost all negative canine behaviors come from the humans they live with. Depending on the situation (older, well established recall, rural area, etc.), it is possible to have a basenji off leash. However, there are wonderful (fenced) dog parks all over the country. Why take the risk of a gruesome/painful untimely death? If you think you want a basenji, go search the internet for "reasons not to get a basenji", read all you can and then make your decision.

@pawla
“..... I've heard basenjis described as independent dogs - not true! Mine wants to be with me and supervise everything I do.”
Same with my Basenji Pawla - she is my shadow. She follows me and watches everything I do.

@kembe said in Basenji Beginner:

@pawla
“..... I've heard basenjis described as independent dogs - not true! Mine wants to be with me and supervise everything I do.”
Same with my Basenji Pawla - she is my shadow. She follows me and watches everything I do.

They are "independent" dogs in that they like to make their own decisions, but they do like to be with their people.....on their terms. Many have said, think cat in dog disguise. Usually a Basenji will know what you want, but like cats they will often decline to do it because, well, "it has to be my idea, not yours!" Almost as a matter of principle they will decline to do what you ask just to assert their independence. If you can get past that attitude and gain their cooperation, there is little you can't do with a Basenji, including off leash recalls, but the dog has to have decided that you are worthy of their trust and their obedience. Some will give this much easier than others!

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