Basenjis are sighthounds…if they see it and want it, they chase it, no matter what. They are not impressed by roads and cars, hence the danger there. I would not recommend having a basenji off leash if there is any danger to them at all.
That said, I have trained most of mine over the years to come to a whistle (coach's type, as I can't whistle myself). It's pretty quick, I start in the house and blow the whistle and hand out a tiny very special treat. Repeat 5 or 6 times. Go for a walk in a safe place, blow the whistle and offer the treats a couple of times, then IN A SAFE PLACE ONLY take off the leash and in about 5 seconds blow the whistle while waving the treat toward them. Repeat every few minutes,along with lots of praise. After a few weeks, you don't have to treat each time, but do occasionally so they always want to come. Mine would turn on a dime to return to me...unless there was a squirrel, or rabbit of more interest. We had the advantage of finding a huge fenced area where I could take them back before there were dog parks. Now we go to safe parks, and I can't take treats into the park, so they are not as well trained and don't come immediately.
I think this is excellent training for a puppy, though they may not train as easily as an older dog, with that 2-second attention span a pup has. But the earlier you can imprint something like whistle=come to me and get a treat, the more likely you are to get them to come to you when (not if) they escape.
Anne in Tampa
I still keep a whistle by the front door, in case of an escape.
I definitely agree that there is not much luck with off leash training, and the ultimate safe choice is only in fenced areas. Medjai isn't afraid of anything outside other than a real aggressive dog. There would be nothing standing in his way of chasing a bird until it landed.
Has anyone had any luck training their dog to be off leash, to stay around and come when called? I've been trying with my new puppy, but can already see that wild streak coming out of her.
One of the biggest things that is impressed on people that are interested in Basenjis is that they should never be trusted off lead in an area where there are cars…. and coming when called is a hit and miss situation.. especially if there is something that they are much more interested in... say a leaf blowing in the wind, a critter to chase, or something that only they can see/hear... you might notice them flicking their ear at the sound of your voice.. but they are thinking "Sorry, busy right now with something much more interesting"....
Just like MacPack said…Basenji's can't be trusted off leash. Especially in an area where cars are. So many Basenji's are hit by vehicles because they see something and off they go right after it.....with no regard to what could potentially harm them.
With that said, I have been training my bitch off leash but only in areas where no cars are present. I usually take her to off leash hiking places. There is always that potential rabbit or deer that she may want to chase but from what I have learned, Basenji's always return to the original spot where they picked up the scent.
We never let them off leash by themselves..There are always at least 2 basenji's together and we carry special food with us..This is usually duck meat. I never give her that at home. Every couple of minutes I will say a command and they run right back. As soon as they do this, i immediately give them praise and treets. The hike is around 2 miles.
A good friend of mine takes her 2 b's running every morning off leash. They have had their fair share of troubles but the b's always come back to where they first caught the scent. Sometimes hours later.
Now with all that said...I still say DO NOT let your b's off leash near cars or where they can potentially harm themselves. They can't be trusted and will bolt out a door in a split second.
Train your basenji with a certain word to get their attention. I use "come" and it stops my b's in their tracks because they know that word means yummy treats. Even if you don't have a treat...they will at least stop and look at you...at that point...run in the opposit direction so they will follow or hit the ground and roll so they will investigate ya.
I sometimes let Tucker off the leash REALLY late at night (like, 4am - and don't ask me why I'm up at that time… ). I know there is such a seldom chance at that time of any other idiots to be out, or to have dogs about. He runs back and forth but has never gone more than about 50-100ft from me and won't be out of sight for more than a few seconds. (He loves his daddy!) I also live in a gated and fenced community, so he can't get out into traffic. I know I'm taking that 1 in a million risk, but his appreciation seems worth it.
However, I KNOW that if a person or dog would come around, he would go directly to them for inspection. I have been able to slow him in a fenced area when it comes to other dogs and people, but I can't STOP him.
I let Dallas off lead in this little grassy area ofour complex so he can play with our neighbors puppy. He doesn't go anywhere because he's too interested in playing with the puppy to see anything else. So far he's been good & comes when called but it's always a work in progress & if we didn't live in a practically empty complex [out of 24 apartments in our building only 6 are rented right now!!!] I wouldn't do it. Recall I think is good to practice regardless of whether you plan on allowing them off lead but if you live anywhere unfenced in, I just wouldn't trust any animal to not run out into traffic. Good luck though!
My previous beastie (9 yrs old) was well trained and came when I called (99% of the time) - I even would let him follow me off leash when taking the trash cans out to the street. But … one time he got out and chased a squirrel or something and before anyone really knew it ... he was hit by a car.
I have a fenced yard (good sized) and let my current beastie have the run of the yard and have worked on training him that exiting the gate means going to the right for a walk in the neighborhood but exiting the house door (right next to the yard gate) means going to the left to the garage for a ride. I am also working with EL D to come immediately to a dog whistle -- he's pretty good with this except if the creepy neighbor dog is out (they hate each other).
I'm sorry but being on the loose is one thing I will never take for granted with a basenji again.
I tried letting Jack run off leash in an unfenced dog park once. That was all it took. He got bored with playing with the other dogs and decided to explore. He started trotting down the street. Every time I would get close, he would speed up to get away. Finally, I pounced on him. We were very close to a fairly busy side street. Needless to say his leash went on, and has not come off since, outside anyway.
I have a lot of dog owning friends who make fun of me because I won't let him off leash, but I stand my ground. There was even one who was "holding" the leash for me and "accidentally" dropped it. I ran across the common area and jumped on his leash. She has a pug. Made me so angry I can't even tell you. I let him off leash in a fenced area, and I watch him like a hawk, because he is such a little houdini.
Basenjis are sighthounds and will take off after things that move. They also are pretty good at picking up a scent and following it and will take off after those too.
I start early with name response with my dogs and building a positive association with coming to their name. This is a great tool as they get older for those situation when the leash is dropped, the door is open, the collar breaks, etc. By frequently reinforcing name response, there is a high likelihood that when I call their name my dog will respond. Of course, the higher the value the reward the more likely they will respond so when I am out I try to have very high value treats because I am going to be competing with some very rewarding distractions.
I do not allow my dogs off leash in areas that are unfenced and there is car traffic. I do take my younger girls on county walks away from car traffic offleash with a group of other dogs. They frequently "check in" with me for the treats and I do not hesitate to leash them up if I feel they are not paying attention to me or I do not trust them to respond because of the distraction. I am lucky to have areas that I can do this with my dogs but there are not many places where I feel comfortable doing so. Most of their walks are on leash and they really have no problem with that. They enjoy just getting out and reading the "pee mail" around the neighborhood.
We don't have a fenced in yard, and I would never trust Tosca off leash anywhere…but since we do not have fenced in dog parks around here we improvise. We take her either to a tennis court or baseball field, and my husband and I block the entrances, and she is free to go! She has so much fun, at least for awhile, although she usually just runs around a little and comes running back to us...I don't think she knows what to do with the freedom
Mirtillo isn't allowed off leash either. Only when I'm sure there is no traffic within a radius of 10 km.. When we go to such places I ask other dogowners if their dogs listen well and if it's ok that I let Mirtillo off leash.
When Mirtillo doesn't listen.. the other dogs will and I can 'catch' him.
It occasionally happens that his leash slips through my fingers, but when I call him then, he always returns immediatly. (knowing I'm having some very yummy treats)