Behavior Change for the Better


  • Sanji will be a year old on Dec. 19. From late September through late November, he was difficult. He constantly whined and paced the house to get out, and intensely so in morning and evening when we usually go for a walk. He was not particularly fun to be around and was more difficult to train than usual. I couldn't finish my first cup of coffee before he was driving my wife and I nuts. We had to crate him to end his constant searching around the house for a way out. (It wasn't that he had to defecate as he already was let out briefly to do that.)

    I was beginning to think I got the wrong breed for me. But some suggested this was a "rut" phase to be expected this time of year as basenji females come into heat. That could be part of it, as could that he is also maturing and going through adolescent phases.

    Whatever it was, toward the end of Nov. he started to mellow out quite a bit. So much so in fact that it's like he's a different dog. Instead of whining and searching for a way out, he calmly sits by my side as I finish my coffee. He's relaxed as I get my winter garb on and his. He's more affectionate and playful with me. He's more responsive to commands. I'm growing quite fond of him now.

    Are these behavior changes typical? I don't recall my last dog, a cockapoo, changing so much so rapidly.


  • @sanjibasenji said in Behavior Change for the Better:

    But some suggested this was a "rut" phase to be expected this time of year as basenji females come into heat.

    Given the sudden change, that may be precisely what it was. If so, you may have issues again next fall, but at least you will know what to expect.


  • @sanjibasenji - Totally typical and I am sure he will do the same next year. Basenji males know when it is breeding season regardless if you have a bitch in the house or in the neighborhood and also regardless if they are neutered or not! It is totally rut season for Basenjis!


  • Join the club ! The rutting season is almost over. My two have been humping each other and everything they meet in the woods (trying to at least) for the past 6 weeks. But in the past two days everything has gone back to normal and they meet and greet other dogs without trying to mount them.

    It varies, but you will get it annually between October and December - and even castrated males react in exactly the same way more often than not. You can cut off the 'how to' but you can't remove those primordial urges ! This is their time to get lucky and they know it.

    People in the woods are philosophical and laugh at the boys ! They have taken on board my explanation 'Its the rutting season for this breed' and go with the flow.


  • Thanks all for confirming. I know now what to expect and glad it was temporary. Maybe it won't be so bad next year since he will be nearly two. But maybe not from what you describe...


  • @sanjibasenji Sanji’s brother Zulu has been the same. For the past month he’s been really whiny which he never was before. Doesn’t want to listen like he did before and he’s constantly sniffing his house sister’s hiny (and both of them are fixed. His new reactions might be starting later than yours since we’re basically just starting our fall down here on the Arizona/Mexican border. We went to a swap meet yesterday and it was almost embarrassing by the constant whining.


  • @sanjibasenji - Can honestly say, will not be any better next year... LOL, sorry to say


  • This post is deleted!

  • They do change during rutting season,I think it’s different for each Basenji.

    My boy was less welcoming to big males during rutting season this year, he had 2 scraps with his German Shepard mate that my boy has known since a pup and adored. But he wasn’t interested in mounting, only tried mounting when we came across a bitch in heat on our walk that was giving signs to my boy.

    At 1 years old when my boy understood what rutting season was he would sit by the front door and howl his head off, he will look out the window and howl his head off. But when he became 2 years old he learnt to a extent how to control himself, he was quieter this year and didn’t do the crazy howling like he did when he was 1 years old, but did whimper in the morning for walks to search for females.

    He tricked me twice in the morning into walking him thinking he was ill but I realised straight after walking him what he did🤣.... he wasn’t interested in going toilet he was interested in finding females!

    Cockerpoos and Basenjis are very very different.


  • @sanjibasenji I very much doubt it ! Mine are now two and one year(s) old and they were both very pushy until it tailed off in the past few days.

    Mku was in love with 5 Pointers who we often meet in the woods and it got so I had to put him on a lead for at least half a mile, going in the opposite direction. Otherwise he went the full double circuit of the forest with them and their owner on a bicycle ! There are three Samoyeds he fancies particularly too. Otherwise, just any bitch will do !

    Kito persistently tried it on with a (fixed) Whippet male. <sigh> He is the younger one. Next year he will be more appropriately focused, no doubt

    Thankfully mine have never whined - but howled, yes. When I had the full 8-pack of three boys and 5 girls, I put a nursery alarm in the kennel where the boys were housed for the duration of the season season. That way I could share the village's pain of the 2 am timber-wolfing.

    At least it is only once a year !


  • @chenke

    Good to know this is happening with yours as well, though sorry you're going through it as well.

    I was beginning to re-think why I got a basenji. Now he's a different dog and I think I'll keep him. Ha!


  • @micah said in Behavior Change for the Better:

    he would sit by the front door and howl his head off

    Wow, exactly what we experienced. Appreciate that you chimed in. Sanji also would howl and "lied" in the morning about having to get out for a dookie.

    So glad to know this was temporary and others have had the same experience. Thanks.


  • @sanjibasenji no problem 😊, expect it to happen each year.

    It’s part of the package with owning a male Basenji 🙈


  • @tanza @Zande @Zande
    My vets (father-son team), whose knowledge I respect, seriously doubted that male basenjis experience a rut. I tried to explain that although I could not find any literature on it, it doesn't seem to be a coincidence that breeders in the UK, US, and Canada, with decades of experience, confirmed the same phenomenon happening with males at the same time of the year for the same duration, year after year -- whining, agitated, less responsive to commands, constantly wanting out to seek females whether he scents they're in heat or not. This came up in a discussion of Sanji's excessively licking his testicles (after the rut) to the point of causing redness (which may not be related and which the vets say could be caused by adolescence or an allergy, which it may be).

    However, as for the rut experience, if the same thing happens next year, I'll be 100% convinced, if I'm not already by others chiming in that this does happen. But does anyone know of any literature substantiating this phenomenon? I'd love to show it to my vets. I asked them what they learned about basenjis, and their response was that other than the kinds of diseases that any breed may be susceptible to, there was nothing he learned that suggested male basenjis or any dogs experience a rut, even if basenji females generally, though not always, are in heat at that time of year. I added that I'd like to get the breeders on this forum together in a room with some vets to discuss this. All he conceded is that it may be something that researchers haven't investigated.

    So, again I'd really like to know if anyone has ever came across any literature on this.


  • @sanjibasenji - Both Zande and I are breeders and long time in the breed. What we say is normal for the breed (Males in rut)... I have had many males that will exhibit this every year, in-tact or neutered. Not only that neutered males will often mount and tie a bitch in season. You will NOT find "literature" on this, but all experienced Basenji breeders and owners will tell you as they have this is typical Basenji behavior. Keep in mind that 90% of bitches come in season once a year, typical to the breed as not found in many other breeds. And not only that they all follow the same pattern. Many years ago (1990) the Basenji National was in June and there was once bitch in a post whelping season that had a puppy season, all of the bitches at the show came in season. Many puppies that year were born August/September of which I had one of each. Within a year all seasons were back to the normal time for Basenjis and puppies where born at the normal times in Oct/Nov/Dec... some into Jan. Yes we do have litters born at off times, but far and few in between. Ask your vet why almost all Basenji are born in those months and in places like Australia they are born in April/May/June.... It is the way of the breed. Years ago many Vets discounted Fanconi in Basenjis and the protocol developed for them by Dr. Gonto, I myself have talked to many a Vet about this and until they talked to Dr. Gonto didn't believe in the only treatment. We are lucky that a gene was discovered that showed this was a recessive gene and with testing it can be resolved and we no longer have to produce pups that would die of this horrible affilication with careful testing before breeding. So I would suggest that your Vets talk to experienced breeders that have been in the breed for many, many years. And if your Vets do not believe that male Basenjis have "rut", what do they say was going on as this is normal to many a Basenji. And does if matter if there is research about this? Breeders will tell you it is and I know that my Vets will listen and learn from responsible breeders. I am NOT criticizing you only pointing out that Vets or others that are not familiar with the breed are many times not open to what breeders can tell them.


  • @sanjibasenji I'm sorry but I think I am missing something here.

    You are tending to take the word of a vet, who may have seen two or three different Basenjis for brief visits, against the experience of breeders who have had males and females in quantity and in residence over many years !

    My Vets will consult ME if there is the slightest doubt or something is new to them. They have 21 years of my Basenjis (I changed vets in 2000 after my family had about 50 years with another Practice, including 20 with Basenjis) and these are the only ones they have ever treated. Over the years I have trained them into the ways of our Breed.

    It is not exactly literature, but do go to my website and read my piece "Basenji Boys Have A Rutting Season Too" - http://www.zandebasenjis.com/rutting.htm

    Believe me, there are MANY aspects of Life with a Basenji where I and other experienced breeders around the world have better knowledge than any vet.

    You should take our knowledge as being far more reliable than the opinion of a Vet inexperienced in the ways of our Breed. In any case - your own experience has shown you, albeit only once so far - that we have the right of it.


  • @tanza
    Thanks Pat, I know you're not criticizing me. I'm in agreement with you all. I think this is a clear case in which the science world, for whatever reason, is behind reality, which is the common pattern I and you all are experiencing: that male basenji's experience a rut.

    He did not doubt that basenji bitches tend to ovulate once a year as you describe, but that males have a rut and act differently during the same period. It only matter if there is research on this to convince my vet that his knowledge needs updating. He said he was open to the possibility.

    Thanks for your helpful input.


  • @zande said in Behavior Change for the Better:

    You are tending to take the word of a vet, who may have seen two or three different Basenjis for brief visits, against the experience of breeders who have had males and females in quantity and in residence over many years !

    Perhaps I didn't write clearly, but in fact I wrote that I don't believe my vet is correct and that you all are correct. I wrote above,

    I tried to explain [to my vet] that although I could not find any literature on it, it doesn't seem to be a coincidence that breeders in the UK, US, and Canada, with decades of experience, confirmed the same phenomenon happening with males at the same time of the year for the same duration, year after year -- whining, agitated, less responsive to commands, constantly wanting out to seek females whether he scents they're in heat or not.

    I hope I can start to inform my vet (about this matter at least) as you have yours.

    You should take our knowledge as being far more reliable than the opinion of a Vet inexperienced in the ways of our Breed.

    Indeed, that is what I was trying to convey on this point, that it cannot be world-wide coincidence that "breeders in the UK, US, and Canada, with decades of experience, confirmed the same phenomenon happening with males at the same time of the year for the same duration, year after year..."

    Thanks for the link to your observations. I'm wondering if I could contact your vet and ask if my vet may consult them to learn more about basenjis. Would this be appropriate?

    BTW, since his rut ended, Sanji is like an entirely different dog. Cuddly, sweet, playful, obedient, etc. I've grown so fond of him now. Dream dog!

    My guess is that he had a particularly strong rut due going through puberty and taking him out everyday for substantial socializing, exercise, including him chasing deer (I've cut back on that until the recall is perfected), and that this may have resulted in a particularly strong hormonal system and sex drive in him. But this is just an uninformed guess. Maybe some basenjis regardless differ on that as Pat seems to suggest.


  • @tanza

    Postscript: I just looked at your web (don't know why I hadn't) and realized you are in Pleasanton. Small world! I've ended up in Michigan, but I was born in Oakland (1962), raised in Castro Valley. My sister still lives there, my brother in Livermore, Mom in Reno. Next time I'm out there visiting family, would love to stop by and see your dogs. We may bring Sanji with us. Would that be OK?


  • @sanjibasenji said in Behavior Change for the Better:

    including him chasing deer

    You might want to be careful about that. On a hunter's forum for Michigan I read about the "3S" rule in regard to dogs chasing deer. (shoot, shovel, and shut up). And this quote "if we see a dog on a deer or moose, legal or not, 99% of us will shoot it."

    Word to the wise....

    (I know farmers with the same solution to dogs bothering their livestock)

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