Where do I begin… (HELP!)

Around three weeks ago, a stray basenji wandered into my work at a local restaurant. Everyone immediately fell in love with him. I was the only one who could take him home, however, and I had no clue what I bargained for.

He has a chip, but his owner's info isn't current and the coordinator of our local Basenji rescue said the owners were negligent and unconcerned about his constant escapes. Hunter (previously Smokey) was in awful shape… his coat was patchy and he was underweight by a few lbs. It was obvious his owner had simply given up on him. I couldn't.

When he first arrived home, he seemed content to sleep constantly. Now, any pen in the house is fair game for chewing, he's constantly places he shouldn't be, will NOT be kenneled, is standoffish towards anyone who isn't me or the roommate, downright aggressive with other animals, pulls on his leash, urinates on himself and is a constant threat to escape. The biggest issue, though, seems to be dominance. He tests me over everything and responds very negatively/aggressively to any of my assertions of dominance.

I love Hunter dearly, but I feel like I may not be capable of turning things around for him. Any help would be sincerely appreciated.

Gosh…sounds like Hunter needs to get to "know" you & understand that you are the provider & it's best to be his true loveable self with you. It's going to take some time..if I could recommend some books to get you started...

Cautious Canine By Patricia Mcconnell
Family Friendly Dog Training By Patricia Mcconnell
Click to Calm By Emma Parsons
Don't Shoot The Dog By Karen Pryor
Fearful Dog-Nicole Wilde

I'm not sure what you mean by

my assertions of dominance.

but the key with basenjis (or any dog for that matter) is that they first need to TRUST you & that's easier said then done…dog is probably wondering..."Will you hurt me if I do something wrong?? Will you hurt me if I let you pet me?? Are you my friend or you trying to steal what little I have?"

So its up to you & how much time you have to convince him that you will love him unconditionally & that you'll never hurt him. And that it's in Hunter's best interest to be kind & loving to you.

How to convince Hunter that you're cool...I would start with some yummy treats & feeding dinner from your hand. He needs to learn that only GOOD things come from you.

IF he answers to his name= GREAT TREATS
IF he comes when you say "come Hunter" = GREAT TREATS
IF he goes potty's outside= GREAT TREATS
IF he sits nicely for dinner= GREAT TREATS
IF he goes into his crate=GREAT TREATS

If he doesn't answer to his name= No treats
If he doesn't come when you call=No treats
If he doesn't sit nicely for dinner=No treats
If he doesn't go into his crate=No treats

You get the picture?? When Hunter does what he's supposed to do he gets something good & yummy. When Hunter does NOTdo what he should then he gets nothing no treats, no smacks, no beatings, no yanking on the leash..just nothing.

If this sounds like too much for you to handle than perhaps you can contact the Basenji Rescue Oragnization www.basenjirescue.org

Good luck!!!

PS-Hunter is a stray so his aggression or fear (which can be seen as aggression) is not surprising. You don't know what he went through to survive out there. So don't worry perhaps with time he'll be ok otherwise there's ways to help him with this too! 🙂

BTW-Most Basenjis Pull no matter HOW much training 😃 😃 that one may be tough one :eek:

I agree with jys1011. Constant praise, treats and lots of TLC for this little guy. Everytime he does something good..give him treats and constant good boys!!!
What works for me is a baby gate. Not the cheap plastic ones. They are chew toys. I went out and spent 60.00 for a iron 4 ft gate and it works. Its painted white. Its the greatest thing I have come to find. I own two. One to seperate the living room and another to block the bedroom. http://www.petsmart.com/global/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524441816220&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302035814&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=2534374302023689&bmUID=1187639161002&itemNo=6&Ntt=gate&In=All&previousText=gate&N=2
Basenji's are a wonderful breed. Very unique. Its going to take time for the two of you to adjust to eachother. The forum has an abundant amount of resources. Good luck and keep us posted on his progress 🙂

Please explain-will NOT be kennelled. There are different reactions to being kennelled/crated. Baby gates are great as well as child locks. How do you show 'dominance?' What are his reactions? If you go into a little more detail-perhaps we can help you more.

Never try to physically tell a Basenji who's boss. Only positive control works. You show him who's boss by -

Feeding him last
Crate train him
Does not sleep with you.

You control his negitive behavior with positive training when he doews what YOU want.

Negitive punishment will destroy the dog and make him very aggressive.

You could always give him to Basenji rescue, or get in touch with them in your area to work with YOU.

Definitely all good advice here. It's true- we don't know what his prior situation was… and sounds like he was not well taken care of... Of course he's going to be skeptical and wary of everyone and everything.

First things first- you must gain his trust. This above all other things. If you do not have trust, you have have nothing. Basenji's in particular are very keen on this. Heavy handed discipline does NOT work on this breed. Indeed it makes them VERY aggressive. For example- if my dogs were sleeping on the bed and I came over and nudged them off, I could be asking for a bite. I mean, most dogs you could just move and they'd plop onto the floor, no biggie. Basenji's are different. They think very highly of themselves (and you should not underestimate them) and want your respect. Therefore- I "ask" my dogs to get down. And surpringly- THEY DO! It's amazing. Their trust works how it's actually supposed to!

I would keep a leash on him while he's in the house. So that if something were to happen or you ask him to get off the couch and he doesn't, you can gently show him how it's done. And then of course TREATS TREATS TREATS! If nothing else, Basenjis will work for food. You should check out some of the posts under Miles: A Rescue regarding crate training. It used to be he'd get quite snarky with us whenever we tried to crate him. It had to be something HE wanted to do. So we got him to put his foot in there and we'd give him a treat. Eventually we built up to getting in. Then in with the door shut. Of course, he'd pee and scream and whatnot along the way. UGH. BUT... he RUNS in now and get his treat. Still working on getting him NOT to howl when we leave... but... for the moment I'm content with coming home to a clean crate. Keep us posted and post more questions if you have them. We're all here to help!! 🙂 Congrats. You have found a diamond in the rough... or perhaps he has found you. We can only hope to be so lucky. 😉

@MileHighGuy:

Around three weeks ago, a stray basenji wandered into my work at a local restaurant. Everyone immediately fell in love with him. I was the only one who could take him home, however, and I had no clue what I bargained for.

He has a chip, but his owner's info isn't current and the coordinator of our local Basenji rescue said the owners were negligent and unconcerned about his constant escapes. Hunter (previously Smokey) was in awful shape… his coat was patchy and he was underweight by a few lbs. It was obvious his owner had simply given up on him. I couldn't.

When he first arrived home, he seemed content to sleep constantly. Now, any pen in the house is fair game for chewing, he's constantly places he shouldn't be, will NOT be kenneled, is standoffish towards anyone who isn't me or the roommate, downright aggressive with other animals, pulls on his leash, urinates on himself and is a constant threat to escape. The biggest issue, though, seems to be dominance. He tests me over everything and responds very negatively/aggressively to any of my assertions of dominance.

I love Hunter dearly, but I feel like I may not be capable of turning things around for him. Any help would be sincerely appreciated.

He has gone thru a whole bunch of changes all at once. Treat him like a puppy who doesn't know anything. Treat him gently because most likely he has had quite a bit of rough treatment. Find either a trainer, or basenji mentor who uses positive reinforcement training that can help you find the answers to your concerns.

If it does seem like it is too much, please consider surrendering him to a Basenji rescue group. They deal with dogs like this all the time, and know how to assess, remedy and place dogs with issues like Hunter's.

Also- be consistent with your words. Try always using "potty" when going outside (or business or whatever). Practice calling his name. If he even LOOKS in your direction, give him praise. Does he let you touch him? Is he snuggly? Post some pics already!! 🙂

Okay, finally had a moment to update the post. I left out one crucial detail: Hunter is six years old.

jys1011: I feel we're getting to know each other pretty well. I spend a great deal of time with him and we're doing three a day walks(grueling at times). I'm not sure we've reached the "trust level" yet, but he responds positively to me, and he's showing a lot more character than when he first came home. It's been a short amount of time, but I feel there's progress. I also picked up some great treats that he loves, but so far it's hard for him to get used to the concept of treats as a reward. In terms of aggressiveness, he's not a biter, although he did take a good nip at me when I ran him off leash at an empty dog park. He has problems with male dogs and will show his teeth and make one of his noises. Hair raises on the back, I know it's a bad situation. He can be around other dogs, but needs his space. Also, I think people might have had the wrong impression when I said "assertions of dominance". I've watched a ton of Cesar Milan and tried some of the techniques he uses. Needless to say, I'm not pack leader yet.

Vanessa626: A gate might help, especially in defining space within the house, IE my room, his bed, etc. He's adopted a spot in each room and will go out of his way to keep it (sitting on laps, etc). I really love the breed, I had a Shep/Lab mix when I was young but mom always had cats around. I grew to like their temperament but was still a dog guy. Hunter is the perfect mix of the two.

nomrbddgs: He immediately runs from the kennel. He actually refuses to enter the room it's kept in. The time I tried to lead him near it on leash, he did a 180 and lunged so hard he was suspending himself on his hind legs. That's when we stopped with the kennel. I'm going to try to feed him there and use treats as positive reinforcement, but if he has something traumatic related to kennels I'd rather get a gate. The Cesar tips I tried were simple things like walking ahead when we were out (apparently this doesn't happen), walking out the door first, etc. He immediately runs ahead. When we're outdoors, he forgets he has a name.

Barklessdog: See, I thought I was winning him over when he started sleeping in the bed. He has a terrible habit of trying to sleep in between legs or cuddling up behind them. The crate training has been a nightmare as detailed above. I understand how feeding him last works with other dogs around, but I'm lost otherwise.

BDawg1005: Great post, thank you. After I get done with this, it's on to more crate work. I appreciate that they're smart dogs, and that nothing comes fast, so we'll continue to work together. He'll let me pet him, and scratch his belly, but he doesn't get excited. It's like he's Mr. Cool and of course I'd want to pet him, I should be so lucky! I love that about him. He pretends to be a lazy bum most of the day, sneaking off to find the occasional pen to destroy. The problem is that I spend time working on the computer in my room while he's in the living room unattended when the roommate isn't around. I need to find a solution to that. He's a big snuggler in bed and occasionally when we watch T.V. I'll make sure to get some pics up later today or tomorrow.

Quercus: I've been in regular contact with the coordinator of our local Basenji rescue (she's quite familiar with Hunter) and have e-mailed contact with several members of the local Basenji organization. Before we knew about his chip, I was trying to contact anyone who might know his owner. Honestly, I didn't want to admit to them I was having such a hard time… although, they probably know anyway! 🙂 I'd love to get a trainer, but with all the costs (crate, food, leash, testing strips, vet fees) and then possibly getting a gate and a different leash, it's just going to have to wait.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I'll put up some pictures soon!

MHG

I'm sure rescue would help you for free. They want these dogs in good homes.

As far as getting along with other strange dogs- I would avoid it. Basenji's can be same sex aggressive. I would not even let him near another male. Also dog parks are a bad idea in my opinion. You never know what's going to happen. A basenji can vew a small pick a poo or whatever as a meal.

Is he neutered?

Don't force him in a crate, but get him to go in for a treat. Find a treat he can't resist like boiled chicken (no fried or spiced/processed foods). Do everything slowly and ownly for a short time (short attention span)

Also with treats and other new foods, introduce them very gradually or they can get really sick (found out the hard way, diarhea everywhere!)

Remember only positive training!

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So he is microchipped? Somehow I missed that part of the story. Why is the Rescue coordinator familiar with Hunter?
I would beg you to use a different type of training than that of Cesar Milan. There are at least two major schools of thought on dog training. The kind that works with basenjis is not the kind that Cesar uses, IMO. If you want to use a well known 'celebrity' trainer who wrote a great book, try Tamar Gellar.
And FTR, trainers and training classes do not have to be ridiculously expensive. And, also, IMO are more important FOR the dog than most of the stuff that we buy for our dogs. All the stuff that you buy for a dog won't mean much if you can't keep him because of behavioral problems.

try Tamar Gellar

Is she the dog phycho theripist from the Animal Planet show "who Get's The Dog"?

I agree that most typical dog training does not work on Basenji's because they are based a lot on NEGITIVE responses to Negitive behavior. With Basenji's, they will do anything for the right treat., but with negitive/punishment training you will end up will a very untrusting mean/aggressive dog.

Here is a webpage with some step by step suggestions for crate training.

http://www.dragonflyllama.com/%20DOGS/Levels/LevelBehaviours/TL3Crate.html

You may have to start with only the bottom half of the crate at first if he really has a strong aversion to it.

I also agree with Andrea that finding a good positive reinforcement trainer will probably be the best investment you can make for yourself and Hunter. Not only will it give you tools to help you communicate effectively with Hunter but it will also give you another resource to help you when you experience a problem. Classes are great for relationship building which is really critical when you get a new dog of any age.

Congratulations on your new basenji Hunter.

6years is a great age! My Caesar is 6 years and is a read joy to be around.

Dog training wether that is you at home, or taking a class is a real must with basenjis.

I would suggest giving Hunter some free time at home adjusting to your routine first before starting any intensive training. The behaviors you see now are learned from his past. Can't fault him for that, just show him some alternative ideas.

Chew bones like Nylabones, or a bone filled with peanut butter will be a great way to keep him focused on what you want him to chew.

You will need to dog proof your house as if you had a toddler.

Many of us love the Babys R Us "The first Years" baby gate. Regualr doggie gates are easy for basenjis to climb or jump. This gate runs about $50 and is worth it.

Keep Hunter and you on a schedule. Teach him your routine. Get him used to the idea of potty before bedtime. bedtime at the same time, waking at the same time, eating and walks at the same time.

if you are feeling that it is too much work and you dont have enough time, then a basic obedience class might really help. it will be a controlled class with other dogs teaching socialization with other animals and people as well as improving your communication with hunter.

if he is not fixed it may cause difficulties with socialization.

keep your hopes up. it wont always be like this and you have the caring gene to work with him. just understand that it is frustrating for everyone that has this breed. there are things to work on and you are capable. hunter is lucky to have you and you are lucky to have him when you catch those special moments of cuddling, petting and those eyes.

House training-

You decide when he goes potty, first thing in the morning and after each meal and before bed. Take him on long walks and praise him when he does things right.

A tired Basenji is a good basenji- Lots of walks & positive training/play. When your gone he should just sleep.
A bored basenji is a destructive bad behaved one.

<_>

Good point, Mantis. I would add, simply keep him from doing the naughty behaviors…supervise ALL the time. And when you can supervise, put him in an Xpen, or tether his leash to your belt loop.

The very best way to keep a Basenji from being naughty is to protect them from themselves ;)_

The deal with the microchip is this: He is chipped, and the vet gave us the owners info to try to contact them. Their address isn't current, none of their numbers are connected, and I don't have names. All I found out is that his shots were current, he's six and that his name was Smokey. He doesn't respond to Smokey at all, I tried. Went with Hunter because he responded to it, now he knows that's his name. Anyway, when I talked to my friend at the rescue she recognized him by the name Smokey. She had also been to their prior address. She insinuated that the owners were negligent and said everything short of him being better off with us. We put up posters regardless, because who knows, someone else could have taken him in before I did. Still haven't heard anything, so he's my boy now. Oh, he is neutered.

Minor success story to relate. Worked on the positive reinforcement today on a walk, with firm a firm "No" when he pulled excessively and treats when he listened and a "Good boy, Hunter!". At first we spent 10 minutes on our block. Every "No" provided him an opportunity to smell anything within the radius. I would then walk the other direction to show him that I was leading and setting the pace. Eventually he ran out of things to smell and got bored, then treats, and after about a half hour, he was really getting it. Still pulling a little, but he was looking up at me like I was the one showing him where to go. Or maybe he was just getting impatient and wondering "What on Earth are you doing?". Either way, for the first time, we were walking together.

I'm going to call later today and ask Peggy for her recommendations on local trainers that might be inexpensive. I know they aren't massively expensive, but I'm only 24 and just simply don't have a lot of disposable income at the moment.

House training hasn't been much of an issue, I think the reduction of stress has helped a lot, as well as developing our routine.

With the dog park, I only go if it's empty, and he's only been off leash once. He teared around the perimeter, but when I started running with him he took a chomp at my arm. Didn't enjoy that.

They are a lot of work/learning/training but well worth the rewards.

My female dog only comes to the other dogs name. She NEVER comes to her name, unless I have a treat- no reason to, in her eyes.

Hunter is great name. We almost named our male that. Nice choice!

I have to say as I read all the comments I feel that you have come to the right place and you are coming along. It also appears that Hunter has been very fortunant to have found you and you him since it's been 6 months that I rescued our B and let me just say it gets better with time, patients, exercise, all the above recommendations. I do want to point out that though Hunter seems to come from a rough past just the fact that he is comfortable to snuggle with you in bed or on the sofa shows that he is open to the love you are giving him. Good luck on this jorney and congratulations both to you and hunter. It dosen't happen overnight but it seems you are doing great. Keep up the good work and visit all the other threads, take it from me, this forum will make your life with your Basenji a whole lot easier.

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