• Thank you, i think a key word and a special treat is definitely worth a try - she understands so many words it's scary...


  • @Vesna Not to discourage you... I've run it to the same issue with both of mine. Sparkle taught me early during my custodianship of her that she can NOT be allowed off leash. She gets Basenji brain and bolts. Her days of off leash and dog parks are over... sadly.

    Logan was doing really well off leash until he didn't. I tried treats after he bolted a few times and that didn't help at all either. Weird because he's THE most food driven dog I've ever had. The last time be bolted he ran completely out of site, crossed four streets, but was able to find his way home. Really disappointing. He liked being off leash so much, but I'm not going to risk it any more.

    I do like the idea of a long tag line that you might be able to grab if you insist on letting her run free. You might also consider some kind of weight at the other end to slow her down a bit. Although, I'd be a bit cautious. If she's running at full speed and gets the tagline wrapped around something the sudden stop may injure her neck when she reaches the end of the slack. A harness might be better in that application. I've stopped using harnesses on my two. I've gone to wide martingales made for hounds. Give me control of the head when I need it and they're easier on the neck.


  • My Mr.T is a tri boy. He's my 5th basenji and they all did / do exactly what your pup is doing. However, mine were / are NEVER off leash unless we are in a park setting. Point Isabel here in California is a regional park, not just a dog park. Its along the San Francisco bay on one side and a protected marsh on the other for wild life and such. Truly no place for dogs to take off too, unless they cross the footbridge and head back towards the parking lot. A couple of mine have done that. Scary. You have to work on the recall, and yes its all a game to your pup. Never, ever chase her as she will just keep running. Using a long 16 foot leash can help. She can run, but can't out run you, if you keep ahold of the other end. There should be a very special treat (something that she truly, truly loves) that you give her when you do leash her up again. Saying 'good girl" during that time will help (well...sometimes) to enforce that thought process. They can be their own worst enemy. To them its all fun and games, to mom and dad it can get exasperating. Maybe try not letting her off leash for a few days or so, and then try it again? Make sure though that you have that very yummy treat. Please do not let her off leash near any roads or close to roads where she could get hit by a car. When my beloved Dannii got loose here at home and was headed for the road (about 350 yards), he wasn't running, just walking and sniffing; I sat down and yelled really, really loud "ooh ooouch" over and over, he came over to investigate within reach so I said good boy, and went to pet him, and grabbed his collar. Keep in mind.............it works ONLY once for the most part. They are too darn smart for their own good.


  • @vesna said in Not wanting to be put on leash:

    Hi, our little basenji gem, Frida is 14 months old. She is a very active dog and is taken out at least 5 times a day, with at least one longer walk, where she is allowed to run free. This used to work great until two months or so ago... At around a year old, she figured out, that she can avoid being put back on a leash after running free if she doesn't let us catch her. She still comes when called, but stays 2 meters away. She threats the whole thing as a game, but the longer it goes one, the less funny it is until she can see we are getting really annoyed (it works the same wit me or my husband, or both of us there) and then she starts to run around us in bigger and bigger circles, even running away from us.
    We have tried ignoring her (on the advice of our trainer) and walking into the opposite direction, but she follows us and runs her circles around us, just not allowing us to grab her. Unfortunately we can't just leave her - we are either out of time and need to come back to work, or, we have to go back home and she can't be left alone...
    We are really at our wits ends, not knowing how to stop this behavior. For now, we have her running "free" with a towline attached to her, so we can catch her when it's time to go home, but we miss our free walks, when we would all enjoy her running free and then go home afterwards without an issue. Has anyone had the same problem and how did you deal with it?
    oh, and here a picture of the little troublemakerFrida.jpg 🙂

    It sounds like you've taught her to run away from you by trying to "catch" and "grab" her. These kinds of mistakes are a pain to go back and rehab, and usually can only be fixed with pressure, if they can even be fixed at all.

    Also, if she stays 2 meters away when called, then she hasn't learned to come. You may wish to focus on training her recall so that she comes when you call her (but at 14 months old and this being a Basenji, I doubt she'll ever have a reliable recall; still worth it to try and train though). You may want to look into teaching the recall with a dog whistle. I used to recommend that to all of my pet dog clients because it's hard to be inconsistent and screw up with a whistle.

    I would first try using high value food to get her attention, but it probably won't work in your case. Still, it's worth a try, anything is worth a try before using pressure. If it doesn't work, I'd train engagement. A dog that likes you is going to want to come to you. Also, it will help rebalance the relationship dynamic so recalls should be more reliable (i.e. right now you're chasing her, but when training engagement, she'll be chasing you).

    And, this is obvious but, if you have an issue with her behavior when she's off-leash, you may want to think about not letting her off-leash so she doesn't rehearse this behavior. If you don't stop, she will most likely continue doing it for her life, unless you use pressure. And honestly, it doesn't seem fair to me to use pressure on her to fix your mistake. However, it is an option if you don't care about the fairness component, but it isn't guaranteed to work.

    All the best.


  • A bit late to try this, but with patience it can work. Take her somewhere that is enclosed, for safety, and when you have lots of time. Work on recalls, do not bribe, reward only when the leash is back on. Then treat and remove leash, do more playtime. Rinse, repeat. When (if?) she is becoming predictable in her recall, try working with distractions. If she is still good, then move to a less restrictive space and work some more. Maybe with a drag line if you are unsure of her response.

    Agree with @scagnetti said in Not wanting to be put on leash:

    It sounds like you've taught her to run away from you by trying to "catch" and "grab" her.

    Although it is pretty common for Basenjis to decide to be difficult when they reach a certain age, it doesn't help matters when you are predictable in your routine. The trick is to keep them guessing. Recall, put the leash on, reward, turn them loose. They have to guess whether the recall is just to give them a treat or if it's the end of playtime. If the location of the car is a dead giveaway, I would randomly leash, open the car, put dog in car, then take dog out, unleash resume walk. It takes patience but what you want is to build an automatic response so she starts to just come without worrying about whether this is the actual end recall. BTW, this is a strategy I learned a long time ago with hard to halter horses. With me, they were never sure if it was work or just carrots!


  • Doodle likes that game! It's not a lot of fun when Mom doesn't chase... I just walk around behind her and eventually she lets me hook her up to a leash. A much easier way to deal with this is to hook them up to the leash before you get to the parking lot. They don't expect it, so the game never gets started.


  • @scagnetti actually she used to have a really good recall, but nowadays, if she notices that we want to put her on a leash, she can be quicker than us and then the game starts. Otherways, she comes when called, sits for her treat and is also trained to get the treat only when we get to touch her harness. This all worked really well for a year and then suddenly she didn't want to anymore. I think being a bit more unpredictable might also be a good tip. She is not very food motivated, but keeping her on her toes might be fun for her as well... Thank you all!


  • @vesna said in Not wanting to be put on leash:

    Otherways, she comes when called, sits for her treat and is also trained to get the treat only when we get to touch her harness.

    This is key. Don't just touch the harness. Always attach the leash before she gets a treat. It only takes a second, but she won't then know when you are serious. Dogs can read body language and intent well. Work on being neutral so she doesn't twig to your intent, and throw curves like taking her to the car and then changing your mind and continuing the walk. IMO, it is worth working on this and it should pay off. Oh, and you might want to consider a variable schedule for rewarding with food. Sometimes she gets it, sometimes she gets praise, sometimes the food happens when she is back in the car. And don't have the treat out and visible when you ask for the recall. That is called luring (I call it bribing), not rewarding, and you end up with a dog that only comes when you have food to give! Not good when your dog slips out the door accidentally and decides to play "keep away" because she doesn't see food in your hand!


  • @vesna said in Not wanting to be put on leash:

    @scagnetti actually she used to have a really good recall, but nowadays, if she notices that we want to put her on a leash, she can be quicker than us and then the game starts. Otherways, she comes when called, sits for her treat and is also trained to get the treat only when we get to touch her harness. This all worked really well for a year and then suddenly she didn't want to anymore. I think being a bit more unpredictable might also be a good tip. She is not very food motivated, but keeping her on her toes might be fun for her as well... Thank you all!

    I can't stress this enough: if she doesn't come when called, in every environment, and even when she doesn't want to, then she doesn't have a reliable recall. Recall means you call her and she comes. It doesn't mean you call her and she sometimes comes. If it's reliable, then it would be impossible for her to do other behaviors (attempting/initiating play, etc.) when you give the recall command because she would be coming to you.


  • @eeeefarm said in Not wanting to be put on leash:

    Although it is pretty common for Basenjis to decide to be difficult when they reach a certain age, it doesn't help matters when you are predictable in your routine. The trick is to keep them guessing. Recall, put the leash on, reward, turn them loose. They have to guess whether the recall is just to give them a treat or if it's the end of playtime. If the location of the car is a dead giveaway, I would randomly leash, open the car, put dog in car, then take dog out, unleash resume walk. It takes patience but what you want is to build an automatic response so she starts to just come without worrying about whether this is the actual end recall. BTW, this is a strategy I learned a long time ago with hard to halter horses. With me, they were never sure if it was work or just carrots!

    That's interesting, I haven't heard of that before, and I'm not sure I fully understand it. Also, I've not had any experiences with Basenjis of a certain age deciding to be any more difficult than they already were. Incidentally, what is this age or age range?

    I try to be as predictable as possible when it comes to most routines and I keep them wanting to do the activities and behaviors that I want them to do by teaching them from the beginning to like doing them, by not giving them a chance to rehearse behaviors that would ruin the desired behaviors (i.e. management), and by teaching obligation after puppyhood.

    When it comes to recalls specifically, my training usually takes about 2 years to fully teach and it begins immediately when I get the puppy. First, I use the restraint from when they pull in the harness to build motivation in the recall so that they really like coming to me. I also use high value food rewards while using the harness to make it even more impactful.

    After this, the training starts progressing to recalls around competing motivators, call-offs, call-aways, etc. etc. It's 2 years worth of training (on average), and there's a lot of drills and training and preventative measures that are taken to ensure a reliable recall for the rest of the dog's life.

    Because I focus on this during early puppyhood, they do this very reliably when they get older because they've had a history of doing it and liking it, and don't have a history of running away from me.

    After puppyhood, I teach obligation. After they know how to do it reliably (i.e. learn to like doing it), I teach the dog that they always have to do it when I say. This is typically where the pressure comes in.

    Recall is the most important behavior that a dog can learn. It takes a long time to make it reliable but it's necessary.


  • @scagnetti said in Not wanting to be put on leash:

    Also, I've not had any experiences with Basenjis of a certain age deciding to be any more difficult than they already were. Incidentally, what is this age or age range?

    Typically when they start to mature, maybe 18 months/2 years, but is variable with the dog, and it isn't just Basenjis. I've seen this a lot with people who have reliable pups, and I think "wait for it"! The pup is growing up, testing boundaries, and folks often make mistakes when this happens, which allows the dog to realize "I don't have to do that if I don't want to". Think teenagers!

    To me, a recall is never optional, so I don't ask for one if I don't think I can get it. Never poison your command word! And it doesn't matter where, if I say come I mean it, so if the dog blows me off in the house I will go get him and bring him to where I was when I asked for the behaviour. No exceptions, not even when I was busy doing something else. Same with "no". If I am for instance on the phone and the dog gets into something, if I say "no" and the behaviour continues I will drop the phone and go enforce the "no". Letting stuff go is a quick route to an unresponsive dog.

    I think I am informed by my horse experience. Nobody needs 1000 lbs. of "I don't want to"! So you don't allow exceptions to important matters.

    I should add, I am old. When I first started training dogs, nobody used food rewards. Praise was sufficient. It still is, with many breeds. (my Border Collie was completely uninterested in food when he was working). Basenjis and other hound and terrier breeds are definitely more interested in "what's in it for me" so you need to give them a reason other than pleasing you. Food works for some, consequences are also a great motivator once the dog understands them, and being intuitive about when to use which is why good trainers get great results. Making the reward valuable is important. Anything too readily available loses its value, which is why if you are using food you need to move to a variable schedule once the behaviour is understood and on cue. Think casinos. Dogs, like people, are motivated by the expectation that this time will be the winner!


  • @eeeefarm said in Not wanting to be put on leash:

    @scagnetti said in Not wanting to be put on leash:

    Also, I've not had any experiences with Basenjis of a certain age deciding to be any more difficult than they already were. Incidentally, what is this age or age range?

    Typically when they start to mature, maybe 18 months/2 years, but is variable with the dog, and it isn't just Basenjis. I've seen this a lot with people who have reliable pups, and I think "wait for it"! The pup is growing up, testing boundaries, and folks often make mistakes when this happens, which allows the dog to realize "I don't have to do that if I don't want to". Think teenagers!

    To me, a recall is never optional, so I don't ask for one if I don't think I can get it. Never poison your command word! And it doesn't matter where, if I say come I mean it, so if the dog blows me off in the house I will go get him and bring him to where I was when I asked for the behaviour. No exceptions, not even when I was busy doing something else. Same with "no". If I am for instance on the phone and the dog gets into something, if I say "no" and the behaviour continues I will drop the phone and go enforce the "no". Letting stuff go is a quick route to an unresponsive dog.

    I think I am informed by my horse experience. Nobody needs 1000 lbs. of "I don't want to"! So you don't allow exceptions to important matters.

    I should add, I am old. When I first started training dogs, nobody used food rewards. Praise was sufficient. It still is, with many breeds. (my Border Collie was completely uninterested in food when he was working). Basenjis and other hound and terrier breeds are definitely more interested in "what's in it for me" so you need to give them a reason other than pleasing you. Food works for some, consequences are also a great motivator once the dog understands them, and being intuitive about when to use which is why good trainers get great results. Making the reward valuable is important. Anything too readily available loses its value, which is why if you are using food you need to move to a variable schedule once the behaviour is understood and on cue. Think casinos. Dogs, like people, are motivated by the expectation that this time will be the winner!

    Ah, yes, I thought you meant the rebellion tendencies were specific to or more pronounced with Basenjis. Definitely after puppyhood the rebellious behavior starts, which is why obligation must be taught, and this is the case for all breeds.

    I agree completely with what you say. And after variable rewarding, it moves to random rewarding.

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