Am I the Dumbest B Owner?

So my boyfriend and I packed up our two B's and moved to North Carolina. We now live on a huge farm (out in the middle of nowhere!) with lots of woods nearby. Within our first week of moving my boyfriend convinced me that it would be okay to let the dogs off lead in the woods since we were miles from any road. Amazingly it went really well! Both dogs would run ahead, and then run back to us to check to see how we were doing. Any time I got nervous and called out they immediately came back. Talk about shocked! I just couldn't believe it! They were obviously happy to be running and exploring and I was pleased as punch to not be dragged along.

So what's the problem you say? Well, we tried this experiment again only with not so great results. The first time we put them back on the lead a mile before we got back to civilization. The second time we got lax and decided to let them run a little longer. Don't worry, nothing tragic happened BUT they ran so far ahead they couldn't hear us calling. We had to chase them down frantically. When we finally caught them, Sophie ran over with a clear look of joy saying "where in the world have you guys been?". Sigh. I'm I an incredibly dumb B owner for letting them run free? Does anyone have any training suggestions on how to keep them in the area closer to us? We have been working with recalls using a hunting whistle, but I admit I am EXTREMELY nervous to let them off again.:(

You're not that dumb, there are a few people on here the do exactly what you did in the woods. I, personally could never do that, because Medjai doesn't come when called regularly, and I don't trust him. Maybe if I had more than one, and they listened, I'd do the same thing.

Keep training them to come to a whistle, like your hunters or a coach's whistle. The sound carries further than your voice, and with some high-value tiny treats for learning that the whistle means really good stuff, they will train in no time. The first time it was a new situation for them so they stayed close. The next time, they knew where they were and started to explore. Use the whistle to keep them closer to you, and collect them a good half mile before civilization.
Basenjis will usually surprise you the first time by staying so close, but once they know the area they are braver! I used to let 5 off leash in an empty city lot, they would turn on a dime to come back to me when I blew that whistle, and it worked on my dad's farm as well.
That said, it is always a risk. Is it worth it? Each person has to decide the degree of risk in each situation, but quite a few folks walk or run way out in the country with basenjis. Coyotes, snakes, and here in Fl, gators, are dangers in some places, but a 'free' basenji is a joyous creature to behold.

Anne in Tampa

I let my girl off lead and she will come when called (as long as there isn't a squirrel or cat to chase) I use food as bait call her using a command. She has learned to always come on that command since there will be a yummy treat to return to 🙂
Now as for my boy…well he has ADD and selective hearing 😉 He can't be trusted period. You give him some slack and he takes a mile! He would run away if I allowed him off leash and get hurt.
It really depends on the dogs. Each is different but keep working with them 🙂

Blaze routinely gets free rein at the farm we go to every second weekend. He plays with the farm dog there, and we really have no worries as long as he's in by dark… He has killed one coyote, but I don't want to repeat that.
We keep some yummy treats like beggin sticks, good bites, roll-over bits, etc. We use to call him all the time, he'd run up, I'd give him a treat, and let him run off again. This made him realize that I was just checking up on him. My calling him does not mean that we are going in.
Though he does know he has to go in and get a bath when he's rolled in sheep poop. That's when it takes all of us and the farm dog to herd him into the barn.

While EL D is responding extremely well to our special whistle training it doesn't work completely yet if he's spies a rabbit or other prey animal. I would not let him loose in such a situation as yours until I knew without doubt that he will return to the whistle. And even then I'm not sure I'd let him loose - I would hate to have something happen to him.
I had a mutt dog while in college and lived on a farm and that dog would take to wandering whenever he scented females in heat – and I mean several miles worth of wandering.
If you are not comfortable letting your dog loose and out of sight then don't do it.

"a 'free' basenji is a joyous creature to behold."

Honestly, I think that is why I will be willing to do it again. They looked so happy and free when we were out in the woods. They have been consistently coming in an instant when we blow the whistle (thanks to some yummys we give out when it's blown!), so once I work up the courage we'll try it again soon. :o

I think part of my problem stems from all of the dogs I had growing up. On a farm you let them run free and do their own thing. Now don't get all upset, I've owned B's for three years now, and trust me I know they are not like other dogs. But it is really hard for me to see them cooped in the house or in the fenced in area we have for them especially knowing that at heart, they are true wild hunters/runners. If anything were to happen to them it would crush my world, but the idea of limiting them to keep them "safe" from the unknown hurts too. I want to give them the fullest and happiest life I can, not limit them because of my own fears. (Sorry, that was a bit of ranting wasn't it?) 🙂

I regularly let Samantha off lead when I'm in the mountains or on a trail up above town. I like the fact that she gets more time running than she normally would on a walk around the neighborhood. There was one time, though, that she went a little too far off the path and started heading down the steep forested slope back into town. I tried to follow and didn't see where she went. We ended up spending 15 minutes or so just looking for her, then headed back to the car at the trail head thinking that maybe she went on ahead of us - but no luck. So I headed back up the trail while my wife took off in the car to head back home to get some help from the kids to search.
as I got up to the ridge about 5 minutes above the trailhead, here she came running back down the trail to me. She was whining at me, like "I was so scared I lost you!" Since then she's stayed a little closer, and I make a habit of it to call her to come back or to catch up before she gets out of sight.

She's proven to me on more than one occasion that she has a great sense of direction, and it's just so much nicer letting her run (for both of us!)

@MacPack:

…That said, it is always a risk. Is it worth it? Each person has to decide the degree of risk in each situation, but quite a few folks walk or run way out in the country with basenjis. Coyotes, snakes, and here in Fl, gators, are dangers in some places, but a 'free' basenji is a joyous creature to behold.

So true. Some are willing to take the risk, some are not. It's a very personal decision.

Congo gets free rein if we are outside of civilization (at least 5 to 10 miles) and he does very well unless he sees another animal. I live in the desert so we can usually keep an eye on him for long distances. I use an elk cow call to call him back. I use that rather than a whistle because the place where I take him has lots of dog owners with whistles.

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.