Our Thoughts on Training and Raising a Basenji

I have found that taking my Basenji puppy in his crate in the car, has really helped him feel secure in his Kennel. If you do this when running errands, it also helps with separation anxiety. The Dog will see that you are leaving the car, and also can see you returning, so he knows you will eventually return. I started by running short, quick, errands, so my puppy would not be left crated in the car without seeing me for very long. I have done this with other puppies of other breeds, and even older rescue dogs in the past. This seems to work very well, and appears to transfer to how the dog feels about the kennel crate in the home. Another benefit is that is really helps house break a dog and train us as humans to notice different sounds or behaviors when the dog might exhibit. I feel if a dog that is crated is throwing a major fit for over 15 min's, then there is something wrong. Either they have wet their bedding, need to go out to poop or pee, or they are hungry or thirsty. (Of course I am excluding medical issues that might be present here that are not within the norm). Miranda and I have found this to be consistently true with the Dogs we have owned and raised.

If my calculations are correct, Roo is 13 weeks old as of yesterday. Roo has learned to sit on command. Roo knows to he has to sit before we will put his leash on. Roo is also doing very well learning not to pull on the leash and that he walks either or on the side of me or behind me.

Roo will go to and enter his Kennel or Crate on command. Roo has also learned how to come, and a hand signal for sit. We are currently working on the stay command, as well as the lay down command. I am attempting to teach him to sit every time I stop walking.

When we first received Roo, he was only 4 lbs. Roo has doubled in weight and probably more in size. We are not making him a rolly polly puppy. In fact our Vet says he looks great and to keep doing what we are doing. Roo has had all his shots, except for his Rabies. I am waiting until he is 5 months old before I take him for that.

These are my personal thoughts the proper age for socialization.

We received our puppy when he was 8 weeks old. I know there are some that think that 8 weeks is too young for a Basenji puppy to be separated from his mother and his litter pack. Their school of thought is that a puppy needs the socialization of the pack until they are 12 to 16 weeks old.

I totally disagree with this for the following reasons.

1. I believe that if a basenji puppy stays in a litter pack when its older, they have a greater chance of learning to be aggressive or dominant.

I know some will disagree with this, but I really think many bad habits are formed at an early age, and unless they are corrected right away, they are much harder to correct.

For example, in a litter, there is usually a runt. The other dogs or puppies will push the runt around in the little, and of course the runt will be the last one that gets food. This can work two ways. Either the runt will learn to be very submissive, or the runt will learn to be very aggressive when it comes to food or eating.

2. I feel dogs left in a litter until older will rough house more, and develop a more aggressive behavior as they establish the social order in the pack.

Ask yourself, which would be more difficult? Establishing yourself as pack leader with a younger dog or an older one? Which has had more time to learn how to be more aggressive or dominant?

3. The old the dogs are in the litter, the more aggressive they play. Once again it is my opinion, that part of reason that play gets more aggressive is because as the puppies grow strength increases. This also means that getting another dog or puppy to bend to the will of another in a dominance contest will escalate.

Here is what I see as positive about taking a puppy at 8 weeks

Like all puppies, our puppy included, like to put their mouths out things. They also play bite when they are young. They are also still looking for their mother to feed them, so a lot of the pawing and little nips at clothing, hands, and other body parts, are an attempt to find milk or food. They are also teething, so they are looking for anything they find soothing for that situation. In my opinion, these behaviors are very natural.

1. If you separate a puppy from his mother at 8 weeks, you are just continuing the process of what the mother has already started to do.

2. You are also enabling that 8 week old puppy to bond with you, and learn how to fit into your particular household, its sounds, and its quirks.

3. You are getting to learn the young puppies unique habits and personality.

4. You can correct bad behavior quickly.

5. You can head off some separation anxiety because the puppy has to get used to a new home and surround at a much younger age.

Since Roo is full of energy, we have found that walking him every day, twice a day mellows him out, socializes him, makes him more receptive to learning voice and hand commands, and helps him sleep.

Roo is very friendly and even will Barrooo when he wants a new person's attention. He makes frequent trips to our local pet smart, so he is around many different dogs and people. The trainer there is somewhat amazed as his progress.

Roo walks 2.5 miles in the morning with me and my Boston Terrier Bonzo. 2.5 miles takes us about 51 min's to walk. Then I might spend 15 to 20 min's with Roo practicing training commands and hand signals.

Roo, Bonzo, and I meet Miranda in the afternoon after work on her way home and walk another 2.5 miles. This tires Roo out, and then Roo is more mellow. It makes him a much easier dog to deal with and correct. Roo is also more eager to please us.

Maybe some of our thoughts will help some other owners on this board. Miranda and I have decided we will only post our experiences in regard to this and nothing more.

Have a great day.

Jason

I am sorry but your opinions about what happens to a puppy if it stay with its littermates until 10-12 weeks old is in disagreement with research done on puppy development and socialization. The "rough play" that you accuse of teaching dogs to be "aggressive" actually does the opposite. It is during this rough play with siblings that young puppies learn bite inhibition. Puppies of this age are going to play rough, it is part of their development, and separating them from their littermates is not going to prevent this stage of their development. When they are with their littermates and pack during this stage of development and they bite hard in rough play they get a consistent and clear message that they are being inappropriate. They learn that biting hurts and they need to bite more softly because they have the opportunity to interact with the other puppies and adults.

Also, new research in the field of canine vaccinations shows that any vaccine given prior to 8 weeks of age is completely ineffective. My veterinarian and many others in my area will not give the first puppy vaccinations until 8 weeks of age. As breeder, I do not want to send a puppy home immediately after it has been given its first shots nor would I ever consider sending a puppy home before it has recieved its first shots.

I'm kinda confused, it seems like you are trying to start an arguement? And I am not trying to tell you that you are wrong for running errands with your dogs, but I've read that dogs can overheat in a car in the summer in as little as 5-10 minutes, so just be careful how long you keep the dog in the car if it is hot outside. I have made very short stops with the dogs in the car, but once I read about that I stopped..

Also, I have never raised a litter of puppies, and I would assume you have not either.. I think that responsible breeders and research would have a better insight of how old a pup should be when it leaves its litter/mom..

Let's all be free to share our opinions. 🙂

I agree, as long as it does not turn into argument.

IMO IMO IMO

It is impossible to make blanket judgments about what is the best way to train or raise "A Basenji" after owning only one, and that one for only a few weeks.

While your experiences and methods may be perfectly valid and work beautifully with YOUR puppy, you simply cannot take this one experience and generalize for an entire breed. I do not believe any one can become an expert on anything after doing something one time.

I am glad that things are going well with you and Roo, but do ask other new owners to continue defer to the judgment of those who have been dealing with, training, and breeding these dogs for years and years, and who are constantly updating themselves with current information and research.

I'm pretty sure I saw the words, "in my opinion" in the original posts.

Holy geez. People should be able to express their opinions without being completely beaten up over it. There are multiple views on every topic and different things work for different dogs. Can't we all be friends and agree to disagree?

My personal opinion is that 10wks is a good age to place a puppy, however if the person is an experienced dog owner (doesn't have to be a Basenji) and/or has an older dog already in the home.. 8wks works…. for placement. However that said, one of the reasons that I wait is that at 9wks I take them for eye exams to a Board Certified Ophth (CERF Exam) and also, the most recent schedules for shots is at 9wks and 11wks, so I would prefer that they have at least one of their shots, having the second would be better, IMO before they go off to their new homes..

I always take pups in the car in crates from a very early age... it does usually help with crate training... but if nothing else they get used to traveling in the car and not thinking that any car trip is going to be to the Vet...

That said, I would never leave on in the car unattended

And as always, a tired puppy is a good puppy!

I will say, however, that it sounds like Roo is coming along nicely with his training. He is learning appropriate commands.

And it is clear that YOU have learned also, as has been stated and re-stated a million times on this forum until I think it may be the Basenji Mantra:

"A Tired Basenji is A Good Basenji".

LOL – it is always good to walk them a bit before training, and for those - like Jazzy - who get car sick before a car ride.

For those who do not wish to leave their dogs in the car while errands are run, you can achieve the same thing by crating your dog and leaving the room for a few minutes and then returning. The dog will also learn that you will return. If you return with a treat, some will learn even faster.
That said, some dogs do not necessarily have separation anxiety, but true crate anxiety. The issue with them is NOT your leaving, but being shut in the crate itself. For whatever reason, the confinement aspect freaks them out. Sometimes this can be very severe; it may be more true with Basenjis than other breeds, perhaps because by instinct they are not a dog accustomed to confinement. At any rate, if you feel your dog has crate anxiety, please do not lock them up in the crate and leave them in the car. It will NOT help them at all.
There are many discussions on this forum on how to deal with that.

@BDawg:

I'm pretty sure I saw the words, "in my opinion" in the original posts.

Holy geez. People should be able to express their opinions without being completely beaten up over it. There are multiple views on every topic and different things work for different dogs. Can't we all be friends and agree to disagree?

But a discussion is an exchange of opinions, often differing opinions. That is what makes it interesting.

I don't see any "beating up" happening, just an exchange of differing opinions.

"I think AAA", is met with "I disagree; I think BBB", yet another may chime in with "Nope. I believe it's CCC".

That's a discussion. In My Opinion, of course. :p

@JazzysMom:

But a discussion is an exchange of opinions, often differing opinions. That is what makes it interesting.

I don't see any "beating up" happening, just an exchange of differing opinions.

"I think AAA", is met with "I disagree; I think BBB", yet another may chime in with "Nope. I believe it's CCC".

That's a discussion. In My Opinion, of course. :p

Well put.

This is a forum and people should be able to express their opinions just as long as it does not spiral into a heated argument.
We are all here to help, educate and enjoy each others company. ComicDom1 has taken the time to share with us his opinions and experiences with Roo.
People will have a difference of opinion in every topic but let us remember…every training method is different and what works for some people does not work with others. :o

I wish Jack would have stayed in his crate in the car. When I brought him home from the shelter in his crate he screamed and screamed the entire time. Luckily, that did not detract from crate training at home. I think when he was in the car he just wanted to see out. Now, he loves riding in the car.

I don't know a lot about Jack's history, but I know he was separated from his littermates at a very young age, having had an ear eaten and all. I got him at 12 weeks, and I know the shelter had him before 8 weeks, because that is when he was neutered (shelter decision). I do think that this has a lot to do with his constant biting during play, or when he wants to play, or when he wants my attention when I am typing on here to you folks. What was the word used- bite inhibition? Yeah, he doesn't have that. Mind you, he doesn't bite hard, but he does have this nasty habit of trying to fit his entire mouth around my wrist. He also really doesn't know how to play with other dogs. I've had him around other dogs all of his life, but he tends to look at them like he doesn't quite understand what they want- when all they want is to play.

And Kudos to you for getting him to sit to put on his leash….he didn't start doing that for us until he was about a year old....after many bruised noses and black eyes. Yup, that's right. My Dog gave me a black eye. Try explaining that at work around the water cooler.

Each pup will in the end have it's own personality.. but with a responsible breeder that takes the time to socialize a litter, keeps them until they feel they are mentally ready to join a new household, does the "proper" health testing "before" breeding… makes the biggest difference... IMO

Dogs that miss that critical socialization period with the dam and littermates often have problems later in life communicating with other dogs. They don't learn who to read dog language as well and don't usually give signals as well.

I can totally sympathize with the black eyes and fat lips, I have this problem with the shelter dogs. The worst was the 7 month old, I don't what cross, that jumped up knocked my glasses off, as I went to pick them up he managed to then smack me in the lip. This was completely innocent on his part, he was a really goofy puppy who was just completely unaware of the fact that he was as big as a horse. Good news is that after 6 weeks of training with all the volunteers he did an automatic down and learned not to jump up on people, even kids. YAY! Sorry couldn't help it, I was really proud of this boy. He turned into such a nice dog and it was such a happy day when he got adopted.

I would think the point would be to teach any new puppy, that there is no type of biting or nipping that is ok. Hard or Soft should not matter, "to me" nipping or biting is just not ok! I also do not think that jumping up on a person is acceptable. I have seen Roo exhibit some of the jumping up behavior also. What we do with him at that point is to direct him to sit or completely ignore him. Once he is calm, then we call him to us, we do not go to him.

In our opinion, socialization of a puppy while influenced by his litter mates, is also accomplished by exposing a puppy to many other dogs, and people. The way we accomplish this is by taking Roo on walks in the park that other dogs share, many trips to pet smart, interaction with our Boston Terrier, and exposing him to smells, sight, and sounds of the different farm animals that exist in our area, as well as exposure to all the same things in the larger city that is close to us.

To teach him to come to us both, we used a flexi leash in the park, and Cherrios for treats. He has to sit before he gets a Cherrio. We also do not allow him a treat every time he performs well for us because we want him to learn to obey without expecting them. Even my Boston Terrier likes Cherrios. Both Dogs have to sit after the walk and wait their turn for a treat. Cherrio's are very cheap, and a good training treat.

If Roo has been esp good for us for an extended time, then we give him a bully stick which he seems to love.

By the way the weather has been in the 60's and 70's here. Those temps are perfectly safe for a dog crated in a car with the windows cracked. Please keep in mind We are in the Mid West.

I also purchased a fan I found at pet smart that mounts on the front of the crate, that is designed to move Air. It will run 100 hours on 2 D batteries on the low speed. I would recommend this product to anyone. Also I am investigating the crate pads that contain crystals as well as the bandana's that are supposed to help keep dogs cool in the summer.

I always carry bottled water, food,treats, leashes, a towel, and bowls in my vehicles. Since you never know what can happen(Cars do break down), I always find it good to be prepared.

Jason

@lvoss:

Dogs that miss that critical socialization period with the dam and littermates often have problems later in life communicating with other dogs. They don't learn who to read dog language as well and don't usually give signals as well.

I can totally sympathize with the black eyes and fat lips, I have this problem with the shelter dogs. The worst was the 7 month old, I don't what cross, that jumped up knocked my glasses off, as I went to pick them up he managed to then smack me in the lip. This was completely innocent on his part, he was a really goofy puppy who was just completely unaware of the fact that he was as big as a horse. Good news is that after 6 weeks of training with all the volunteers he did an automatic down and learned not to jump up on people, even kids. YAY! Sorry couldn't help it, I was really proud of this boy. He turned into such a nice dog and it was such a happy day when he got adopted.

I think that is part of Jack's problem with the other dogs he meets. He gets along fine with, not fighting or aggressive towards them, but I think he feels like he doesn't quite speak their language, which makes me sad. I do really think that if he had been able to stay with his littermates longer he would not have such a problem with this. Unfortunately, that was not an option for him, so we make the best of what we've got. I really think he was separated from them at right about 8 weeks.:(

And, yeah, the bruises and black eyes are completely innocent on his part as well, he is just jumping up to give a like wet kiss….most of the time he is really confused by why I am stumbling around holding part of my face! It is such a happy day when a good shelter dog gets adopted isn't it!

@ComicDom1:

I would think the point would be to teach any new puppy, that there is no type of biting or nipping that is ok. Hard or Soft should not matter, "to me" nipping or biting is just not ok! I also do not think that jumping up on a person is acceptable. I have seen Roo exhibit some of the jumping up behavior also. What we do with him at that point is to direct him to sit or completely ignore him. Once he is calm, then we call him to us, we do not go to him.

To teach him to come to us both, we used a flexi leash in the park, and Cherrios for treats. He has to sit before he gets a Cherrio. We also do not allow him a treat every time he performs well for us because we want him to learn to obey without expecting them. Even my Boston Terrier likes Cherrios. Both Dogs have to sit after the walk and wait their turn for a treat. Cherrio's are very cheap, and a good training treat.

If Roo has been esp good for us for an extended time, then we give him a bully stick which he seems to love.

By the way the weather has been in the 60's and 70's here. Those temps are perfectly safe for a dog crated in a car with the windows cracked. Please keep in mind We are in the Mid West.

I also purchased a fan I found at pet smart that mounts on the front of the crate, that is designed to move Air. It will run 100 hours on 2 D batteries on the low speed. I would recommend this product to anyone. Also I am investigating the crate pads that contain crystals as well as the bandana's that are supposed to help keep dogs cool in the summer.

I always carry bottled water, food,treats, leashes, a towel, and bowls in my vehicles. Since you never know what can happen(Cars do break down), I always find it good to be prepared.

Jason

Believe me, we have been trying to teach Jack that nipping and biting aren't okay, and he is making some progress. At least now, when I tell him not to bite, he look at me like "That's right, you told me that before, I forgot…..here, I will lick you instead" The thing is that the very best teachers of that idea are the dogs littermates, who yelp when one of their siblings bite them too hard.....they are telling them "HEY-THAT HURTS" in their own language. Jack was separated from them are a very young age.....faaaar too young, IMO.

I will have to try Cheerios....Jack LOOOves wheat chex, too, but I am careful not to give him too many (have to watch his girlish figure) 😉

While he is still a puppy, I would be careful of giving him blankets with crystals unless they are completely non-toxic. Up until he was about 18 months old, Jack tore every blanket in his crate apart- not out of stress or anger, just because he was redecorating.:D Don't know if that is a purely basenji thing or not....

@ComicDom1:

I would think the point would be to teach any new puppy, that there is no type of biting or nipping that is ok. Hard or Soft should not matter, "to me" nipping or biting is just not ok! I also do not think that jumping up on a person is acceptable. I have seen Roo exhibit some of the jumping up behavior also. What we do with him at that point is to direct him to sit or completely ignore him. Once he is calm, then we call him to us, we do not go to him.

Though the end goal is to teach a puppy that mouthing and nipping are not OK, trainers are in good agreement that the what gives the best results toward this goal is to first soften the bite then teach not to put teeth on human skin. Training a dog to have a soft mouth is really an important part of bite inhibition and one that should not be skipped.

For anyone interested in the training process, here is a link to an article written by Ian Dunbar. http://www.jersey.net/~mountaindog/berner1/bitestop.htm

@Robin_n_Jack:

I think that is part of Jack's problem with the other dogs he meets. He gets along fine with, not fighting or aggressive towards them, but I think he feels like he doesn't quite speak their language, which makes me sad. I do really think that if he had been able to stay with his littermates longer he would not have such a problem with this. Unfortunately, that was not an option for him, so we make the best of what we've got. I really think he was separated from them at right about 8 weeks.:(

Yeah, it is hard for them when they aren't really sure what the other dog is saying. I know a few dogs like this and they tend to have a small group of dog friends that they have learned how to talk to. They are sort of like the shy kid on the playground who doesn't know how to go up and make new friends. It is great when they are able to meet one of those dogs that is like those kids who can make friends with anyone and everyone.

@lvoss:

Though the end goal is to teach a puppy that mouthing and nipping are not OK, trainers are in good agreement that the what gives the best results toward this goal is to first soften the bite then teach not to put teeth on human skin. Training a dog to have a soft mouth is really an important part of bite inhibition and one that should not be skipped.

For anyone interested in the training process, here is a link to an article written by Ian Dunbar. http://www.jersey.net/~mountaindog/berner1/bitestop.htm

So we are getting somewhere! Jack has learned to be soft when nipping and biting. Wow! That makes me feel great!

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