• Hi guys,

    I wonder if you could give some advice.

    We are first owners and we got a basenji and he is nearly 6 months old and we have had him for a week now.

    He is not bad at all, he is very chilled and relaxed but we do have difficult hurdles.

    We have to repeat our commands so he listens and he only listens when we have food or treats. It's very rare he will listen to commands without any rewards.

    He wakes up at from 3am and onwards and he wants to cuddle and wants to sleep with us. I am not complaining because I love it, but because I work early shifts I do need sleep and want him to be able to sleep independently. We give him cuddles throughout the day and let him sleep on our laps but in the middle of the night it gets too much. Also, when it comes to going to the toilet early morning or night time he won't go on his own accord, even if he knows he needs it! So I have to carry him outside and even then he tries to fight us. However, once he is out he does what he needs to do.

    Oh and when we are on our walks he tries to chase birds and eats bugs - is this normal?

    He does not walk with us on our walks and he pulls the leash very hard . He sniffs and tries to eat grass all the time - has anyone else experiences that? He keeps constantly sniffing everything, even at home he keeps sniffing.

    In terms of a leash, we got a halti opti lead, which is non pulling traning leash and you have to put it around his mouth and if he pulls, his nose will pull to the ground so he can't pull us whilst walking. Of course, he hated this but we don't know what to do when it comes to him walking.

    I know he is still a puppy and it requires patience but I just want to know if I am doing anything wrong or if someone can give me advice on this.

    My puppy isn't as energetic as most of people have described. He loves to sleep, eat and cuddle which is sweet but now I am doubting that he's not happy with us.

    Please can someone advise? He has also started to chew my pillows and now trying to chew laminate flooring!

    Thank you!

  • Houston

    Can't really attest to anything other than the energetic bit. I'm a new owner as well and based on everything I read I was expecting an absolute hellion of an energetic puppy. My experience has been the exact same as yours, she sleeps constantly and is always super cuddly and every now and then she'll get the Basenji 500 before bed. I highly doubt he's not happy with you


  • Thanks, it's good to hear that someone can resonate with you.

    How is your walking traning going? We got halti opti and absolutely hates it with passion. When we use it he just refuses to walk and just wants to lie down :(.


  • @little_t
    Wanting to sleep with you in bed is normal - basenji want to be with their pack. If you don’t want him in your bed you should at least put his kennel or dog bed in your room.
    As for listening only when treats are involved- 😂 yes NORMAL. The basenji attitude is “what’s in it for me?”
    Yes, they will chase birds, squirrels, rabbits. They also like sniffing everything - remember they are HOUNDS.
    I never experienced issues with eating grass or difficulty in potty training - so I can’t comment. Luckily my basenji was never destructive. Remember that your basenji is still a puppy and important to have toys and to exercise him regularly - this will make him tired and hopefully not destructive. I’m sure others will have advice for you on the grass eating and destructive behavior.


  • Where did you acquire your Basenji, from a breeder or a shelter or some other source? What do you know about his background? At six months he has had time to develop both good and bad habits, and after only a week he is still adjusting to a new home. You need to be clear about what you expect from him, praising and rewarding good behaviour, and discouraging behaviour you don't want. Loose leash walking is one example. The most effective way to teach a dog not to pull is to not move forward while the leash is taut. Patience is required until the penny drops that he will not get to walk and explore while he is pulling on the leash! Agree with @Kembe that your pup should sleep in your room, if not in your bed. Basenjis do like to be with their people!

    As far as not listening to commands unless bribed, work on this by delaying the reward until the behaviour you have asked for has happened, e.g. reward, don't bribe. And don't keep the treats in your hand or where he can see them. Go get them to reward on a variable schedule. You might look into clicker training to teach new behaviour. If you are asking for behaviours he already knows, you need to insist on them before he gets to do anything else, e.g. if you call him and he doesn't respond, don't continue to call, go and get him, bring him to where you were when you called, and then praise and reward.


  • As asked, where did he come from? At 6 months they have really become more independent.... do you know what the breeder did with him before you got him? Have have spoken to the breeder? As noted they are a hound, sight hound, that is what they do, it is part of the breed... they hunt/chase what they see. And Halti's work but it takes some time... a week will not cover it. Do you have a yard or do you live in a townhouse/apartment? As far as potty training, continue to carry him out.... he will get the clue


  • This must be your first puppy.... take a minute to think about your expectations for the newest member of your family. You have only had him with you for a week, so it really isn't surprising that he doesn't understand what you want yet. It's not like you speak his language, or you, his. But you also need to consider your techniques.

    If you are calling him by the name his breeder called him, you should see him look at you when you say his name. If you have re-named him, then you need to start by teaching him his new name.

    Before you give your dog a command, you need to make sure you have his attention. So, say his name, then the command. Do not repeat the command. If you say "sit" over and over again, the dog will not associate it with a behavior. If you say, "dog, sit" and the dog sits, praise the dog verbally and with loving scritches. If the dog does not respond, say "no", then start again by using his name to get his attention. Every command you give the dog should start with his name so you know that he is paying attention to you. ("Sit" is relatively easy if you show your dog the treat, then slowly raise it over his head while giving him the command to sit. His nose will point to the ceiling and his rump will automatically hit the floor. Tada!)

    If you want to avoid a 3am wake up, bring the dog to bed with you when you go to bed. He will settle in before you drift off and not disturb you in the middle of the night. I would avoid rejecting him as he is only saying that he wants to be with his family.

    Chasing birds, and squirrels. Examining (and tasting) bugs, grass, etc. All normal. Allow his walks to be time for him to explore and learn about his world. Walks are a social activity for dogs and not just a time to "water the grass" and "fertilize the lawn". Long(er) walks will help you and your dog bond, tire him out, and deter unwanted behavior (like impromptu pillow fights). Puppies (and dogs in general) do tend to sleep more than us humans, but they aren't always in a deep sleep state.

    Let us know how things go. 🙂


  • You have only had him a week and by 6 months he has had time to get just a little bit set in his ways ! Give it time and work at it. Lots of love, patience and understanding.

    And talk to his breeder. As you didn't get him until he was 6 months old (shame you lost at least 4 months of sheer delight !) I expect you have imported him from another country ?


  • Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the advice and he is getting better. My basenji is from abroad and it is from a trusted breeder. Unfortunately, our breeder is not supporting us much with traning so it's pretty much us figuring it out on our own.

    I think its all about patience and providing the correct traning with love and care.

    I have managed to nail the potty training but now just working on the leash pulling which is so painful. I tried the opti halti but it didn't work out. Everytime I put it on he would refuse to walk or budge and then try and take it off. I tried distracting him with treats which worked for a bit but then he stopped responding to that. When I took it off he looked really traumatised by it and I didn't proceed further with it at all.

    I am now thinking of no pull harness and it would be great to get views on if its worked for you guys? People say its not ideal as the force of the body will have more power when the pup or dog contracts their muscles whilst walking and it could potentially discolate your shoulder but not sure if this is true?

    Apart from that we have had a change in behaviour today and I am very annoyed with myself. I told my basenji "no" very firmly and looked into his eyes whilst saying this. He was on a sofa where he wasn't supposed to sit and he full well knows not to sit there. I told him "off" and he jumped from one sofa to another until he smashed something and I shouted ( I am not proud of myself at all and I feel awful about this). Anyways, I tried to gently take him off to put him in a safe place so he doesn't hurt himself from the glass, and he attempted to bite me numerous of times, every time I touched him or tried to move him. He has done this previously and we made a point and said "no" firmly not to do this.

    I am now trying to work out if he is play biting or is this aggressions and testing how far he can push boundaries? I am not going to lie, I did feel a little scared when he tried to bite me and now I can only think when he gets older he might get worse :(.

    I will be going to puppy classes very soon as I think and feel I am not being s great parent to him at all and I need to work on myself as an owner and get some help on how to train my basenji.


  • He is testing the limits with you. If he finds that threatening to bite or actually biting gets him his way, that would be a very bad thing. Do not put yourself in that position unless you are prepared to follow through whether or not he elects to bite. Backing off only encourages this behaviour, so don't command something you can't or are not willing to enforce. If you are afraid to deal with this behaviour, hang a leash on him so you can make him move without having to physically handle him, or else find a way to distract or redirect him. Do not issue orders you can't enforce. Basenjis can be difficult to move without resistance when they have found a comfortable spot or if they are sleeping or dozing. Not unusual. If he respects you, a command to get down should be all you need. If he declines, you have some work to do! My boy would snark if we moved him from a comfortable spot. My husband would laugh and pick him up and walk off with him while he was snarling fiercely, but he never bit, probably because my husband was so casual and matter of fact and confident. If you are not confident he will know it instantly! Generally I would finesse it if possible, but if push comes to shove you are the boss and he is the dog.


  • Thanks @eeeefarm, the half of the battle was in my head fighting why is he doing that.

    I have been told to hold his muzzle down if he attempts to bite.

    I think it's time to take hold of the reigns properly and stop thinking I am being mean!


  • @little_t said in Basenji help and advice:

    I am now thinking of no pull harness

    NO ! Not a No-Pull, get a Gentle Leader. Much easier as a training aid and more comfortable for the dog.

    As for the biting, it is probably attention seeking. Don't let it work. Ignore, walk away, no more attention until he stops THAT sort of nonsense.

    As for objecting to being moved from a chair - approaching talking gently to him and be very firm and positive. Pick him up and remove him. Hesitation - he'll think he has won.


  • @little_t Just a further note. What you want to avoid is turning "I don't want to and you can't make me" into a fear reaction because you come down too hard on him. You need to be firm and matter of fact without doing something he perceives as a threat, so your goal is to enforce your rules but not to punish for the disobedience. Also, you need to be consistent. If the couch is off limits it is off limits. Be clear about what you allow and what you don't, and make sure everyone in the household is on the same page.

    OTOH, if he is normally allowed the couch and for whatever reason you want to move him from his comfortable spot, best to finesse it rather than turn it into a confrontation, but if it becomes one you must follow through. The fastest way to create a biting dog is to show him he can get his way through a growl or threatening to bite. BTW, this is how he would treat another pup, not how he would act toward his mother. She would not put up with it!

    Just to add, I am with Zande on the harness issue. Personally I like a martingale collar, but if the issue is pulling then you need to work on loose leash walking. Basically you don't proceed when the leash is tight. He will learn.


  • Re grass eating, is he being sick afterwards? There is a difference between grazing on grass (normal) and purposely eating enough to vomit. My 12 month old was doing the latter daily and it turned out to be undiagnosed worms, as she has stopped doing it since treatment.


  • @jkent Basenjis will eat grass and just throw up bile (or bile and grass). Basically there is an itch or some discomfort in the stomach that they want to scratch or clear up. It is normal.


  • Thank you @Zande and @eeeefarm for your advice.

    The other issue is he only listens when I raise my voice or he will just not give crap! I started with firmness but can't get his attention but if you raise your voice he is all ears.

    How do you know if he is scared and fears as this is the last thing I want!


  • @little_t Think teenage humans (or for that matter younger kids). They will tune you out until they think you "mean it". Ditto issuing a command multiple times. If it is something he understands then tell him once, if no response then you either need to go get him and gently persuade him to do what was asked, or wait for him to respond if he is just a bit slow, in which case a treat when he does as asked may motivate him to do it sooner next time. Ignoring you should not be an option. You do need to be sure he understands what you want.

    Try this: say his name very quietly, without any command attached. If he looks at you the treats come out. If he ignores you, make a point of letting him see you had something for him and put it away. Rinse, repeat. You may find him more attentive if there is "something in it for him", and you can also turn it into a game. If he responds to a whisper, the reward is larger.


  • @zande agree it's probably normal in most cases, but in some cases it might be due to upset stomach and in our case it was because she had worms, as she has stopped doing it daily since she's been treated.


  • @jkent Oh indeed yes. My Hoover did it because she had IBS sort of thing. She was fine on Budesonide 3 times a week, but the minute I saw her eating grass again - she went back on it daily for a couple of weeks. It can indicate something is wrong in the tum.


  • @little_t said in Basenji help and advice:

    I told my basenji "no" very firmly and looked into his eyes whilst saying this.

    If your B is on the couch and you say, "no", your B will not understand why you are saying that word. If your B is jumping onto the couch and you say, "no", your B will learn that he is not allowed to jump onto the couch. You have to correct the behavior as it is happening, otherwise the dog will not understand what you mean.

    @little_t said in Basenji help and advice:

    he only listens when I raise my voice or he will just not give crap!

    You should not need to raise your voice or repeat the command. I suspect that either your dog isn't aware that you are talking to him, or your dog does not understand what the command word means. Which basically boils down to more training.

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