Questions on training

Any suggestions on controlling the 'prey drive'? We adopted a 'part' Basenji & part Lab (we think - she's a rescue that was dumped so we're guessing). She has wrinkles on her forehead, curled tail, almond eyes & she yodels. She is 13 months old - 50 pounds - we've had her for 6 months & attend an AKC accredited dog school every week. Per the dog school behaviorist, we're not walking her until I get better control of her & her prey drive. We ARE NOT discussing an electric collar - we ARE discussing a prong collar. We are hoping we can walk again in June - she & I do almost-daily training sessions (crate & 'heel'). She is so prey-driven. We have tried all the easy stuff (noise cans, water gun, etc.) Any ideas? Any success stories? As much as we were not prepared for this we LOVE her like crazy (her rescue story was so sad we really didn't consider what breed she might be - and truthfully didn't care - still don't care - - - but she's really a handful!!) Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

What do you mean by "prey drive"? What issues are you having with her on walks? Is she pulling on leash or is she acting reactive to other dogs or passersby?

My personal preference for pulling is a harness like the Easy Walk Harness by Premier or the Sensible/Sensation harness. Both of these work very well to decrease pulling and dogs usually take to them with less resistance than to the Gentle Leader.

If she is reactive then I would recommend getting the book Fiesty Fido. You can read a description of the book and order from, http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/books-retail.php

I also wanted to add that my personal experience is that basenjis do not respond well to the techniques you described, ie shake cans, squirt bottles, etc. IME they do much better with positive reinforcement and training alternative behaviors you can reward instead of using negatives to keep them from doing something. Basenjis are very much about "what's in it for me?" and so really respond well to the choice of having something they value for doing something you want them to do.

Using positive reinforcement you can train a good "watch me" that can really help to get your dog's attention and keep it in highly distracting environments.

Hi - thank you - yes - the training classes we went to were through the Humane Society & really weren't meant for our girl. We did get some help & she did get some socialization (Puppy Kindergarten). Her prey drive is lun- ging at anything & everythng that moves - bikes, kids, other dogs, aquirrels, etc. We have spent a lot of time on the wrong processes (hindsight) but every class teaches us something. And we really do love her & she is getting better. YES - she's motivated by food - the "watch me" is at her discretion. We're really convinced that this behaviorist will guide us to helping Sophie become the best little girl in the world. And - thanks for the book reference & the harness suggestions - we don't want her to lose her precious personality - amazingly, she is getting a little more settled with us (6 months) & she's getting older. Have I mentioned how we love this little imp??

THANKS FOR YOUR HELP & SUGGESTIONS - sometimes this is just so intimidating!!

Not sure that I would describe as "prey drive"…?? and agree with lvoss... positive reinforcement and training alternative behaviors work best with Basenjis... and most all breeds really...

I just want to thank everyone for all their help - we had no idea what our 'puppy' was - we adopted from a resuce & her story was very tragic - it's taken us a long time to accept her craziness. I wish I had contacted all of you wonderful people before. Just knowing that our little girl is 'normal' is such a relief! THANK YOU - we continue to work with her with new found understanding!!

The more you reinforce watch me or attention the more you will see that Sophie offers it. I reinforce name response and attention heavily with my dogs and it does make a difference but it takes time to build up to distractions and the more distracting the more time.

Do you use a clicker in your training? If so I would start clicking when she looks at the interesting thing and have really yummy treats so she looks at you to get that treat. Then you can start building the behavior of "find the real interesting thing and then look at me to let me know you found it and I will give you a really good treat." Also, finding the right treat for working with distractions is also important. You want something really yummy that they don't get very often so it is very high value.

Hello again - we've tried a 'clicker' but I'm not very good at it - by the time I get the darn thing clicked I've lost the moment. But we never used it as you suggested - I'll try that this week & we're building on the crate. Our trainer emphasizes that we need to go very slow with her - she will go in the crate & 'wait' but we have the door off & I always sit on a chair so she can see me. But we're feeding her in the crate & working on it every day. And yes for the 'high value' treat - I cooked chicken this afternoon. Really, it's just recently that we've fallen 'in love' with her - we had so many months with the wrong trainer - wrong theory whatever & when i started reading about Basenjis so many things made sense. We've 'wasted' some time but we've all learned a lot & I don't think she'll have to spend time on a psychiatrist's couch. I love the photo of your two dogs & notice how they cross their legs - so does Sophie. Thanks for all your ideas!~

@lvoss:

Do you use a clicker in your training? If so I would start clicking when she looks at the interesting thing and have really yummy treats so she looks at you to get that treat. Then you can start building the behavior of "find the real interesting thing and then look at me to let me know you found it and I will give you a really good treat." Also, finding the right treat for working with distractions is also important. You want something really yummy that they don't get very often so it is very high value.

What lvoss described is called the "Look At That" game and it is talked about (among other things) in a book called Control Unleashed. A great little book and had lots of good info in it, but it is geared more towards agility/performance dogs. (That doesn't mean it wouldn't help you though.)

Definately positive reinforcement is the way to go with your pup! (It's more fun anyway)

THANK YOU - I have no idea why I didn't think of this sooner (the Internet) - we have had a very unpleasant time - we have never resorted to horrible human behavior (& as she is a rescue we assume she's seen that) - but I have had LOTS of sleepless nights & really questioned whether I should actually leave her long enough to go to the grocery store!! SHE IS SOOOOO MUCH BETTER & we work with a good group (3 trainers & 9-10 students) every week & have additional private sessions scheduled. I hate to sound so goofy but it's taken us 6 months to LOVE this girl (we did take good care of her but . . .) in the past month we've all fallen IN LOVE (Spring???)
THANKS BASENJI FORUM

Dash is a lunger as well. The Gentle Leader works well. I have much more control over him .

Hi - thanks for the suggestion - we're not walking her at all now (per the dog trainer) - will start again in June. We've used the Gentle Leader but will now try the prong collar - not an easy decision!!! Our 'Basenji' is only part B & part Lab - weighs 50 pounds & she is so prey-driven I almost lost her a couple months ago. (I am not a tiny person!! and I know how nuts she is - it was very scarey) So we're working with the trainer & maybe we'll be able to go back to the Gentle Leader as she gets a better idea of who's in charge??!!

Here's an idea if you don't want to do the prong collar yet:

http://www.premier.com/View.aspx?page=dogs/products/behavior/easywalk/productdescription

There are several like this on the market. Notice how the leash attaches at the front of the chest insead of the back. (Check out the FAQ link for more info.) While I haven't used this myself, I know several people (including a lab owner) who use them regularly. However, I'm not sure of the brand name on my friends'.

Thank you - I can't tell you how much this website (Basenji Forum) has helped us. We had such a rough 6-7 month beginning with her - we happily hooked up with a great dog school (AKC accredited) & all of their trainers are very positive & helpful. I can actually say that there was a long time period that we didn't even like her - that's all behind us now & we're sooooo in love with her 🙂
THANKS for the link

I have a Basenji mix also and it took a long time for me to get used to her ways (I spent many nights wondering if I'd made a mistake getting her). It's especially hard if you don't know what you have…the pound said that I had a Collie mix - not so much. One day at the dog park a guy said that he thought she was a basenji, that was it, after reading about the breed everything started to make sense (just as you said about yours). They are very interesting dogs and it takes a lot of patience to understand their nature but it is worth the time.

I use the prong collar on her and it is about the only thing that works - at first I thought it was cruel but after looking at it and understanding the concept it isn't really bad. She still pulls sometimes but when I tug it a little she understands. Using positive reinforcement does work - she really didn't respond to "pack leader" concepts....she does what she wants when she wants ...and that's it.

I am so glad that you've grown to love your girl because not everyone would have stood by her. Rescue dogs are hard enough but if you don't understand them it makes everything worse.... seems like you've gotten to the top of the hill and hopefully it will be smooth sailing from here. Sometimes I think that the "basenji personality" is the reason my girl was in the pound.

THANK YOU!! I finally feel there is somebody out there that 'gets it'. Our girl does not respond to any of the 'pack leader' stuff - I'm sure she was dumped because she is just such a stinker. Everytime I hit bottom somebody helps me through the disaster with encouragment (that's why I joined this group.) THANK YOU for your good thougths - things do progress - her private trainer is coming this weekend & we're doing the prong collar. Last night she sat in her crate for almost 45 minutes. No matter what, she's here to stay & she is so darn cute!!!!! That tail is really precious - thank you so much for all your e-support!!

Joanne & Sophie:) 🙂 🙂 🙂

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