Remotes, Laptop Keys, and DVD's

Hi,
I am hoping someone can help me a bit with my basenji, Tosca. My husband and I adopted her almost a year and a half ago from a humane society in Iowa. She was either 2 or 4 at the time (shelter thought 4, vet thought 2) so is now either 3 or 5.
She is the most loving, kind basenji you will ever meet. She LOVES to cuddle, has a very healthy (too healthy) appetite, is sweet to everyone, and is even tolerant of kids, and is wonderful in her crate when we are gone.
However, we have a problem…

In terms of getting into trouble, she is quickly becoming an expert, and I am not sure what to do about it. I have never really trusted her at home alone, although we have left her for short periods here and there last summer, and there hasn't really been a problem. However, probably since about February (a year after we got her), she has gotten worse at getting into stuff. I am trying to decipher what is typical basenji behavior, and what can be controlled. It all started with the DVD's. We have a shelf of DVD's behind our recliner, and whenever left alone, even for just a second, or when she is alone with me, she will grab a DVD off the shelf and run with it, making me chase her. Then it grew to include remote controls, same thing. I read a lot on here about the "trading" option, and I have tried that but here is the problem. As much as I try to get her to play with her toys, she has really no interest in them, so she won't trade a DVD or remote for a toy. She, of course, will instantly trade for a treat, but then her thought process is "I can steal this remote/DVD and I will get a treat!!" So this seems to reinforce the behavior even more.

Then, the last two weeks she has turned to laptop keys. If I turn my back for ONE SECOND she will be at them, trying to chew them off, and unfortunately she has been successful.

The other thing I don't get is, she will do these things when alone, or when I am in the room with her, but not when my husband is around. It drives me crazy! He will leave or go into another room, and she is into instant mischief.

So does anyone have any ideas on what I can do with her? My mom, husband, and I have debated this over and over. I say we need to just put these things out of our reach, but my mom and husband INSIST there is a way to train her to leave them alone, and I do hope they are right, but I have no idea how to go about doing it. It appears that she did have some kind of obedience training at some point, cause she can do tricks like sit, shake, laydown, roll over, etc but those are just tricks for treats, not behaviors. And she does get exercise of course, not as much as I would like, but as much as I have time for. She gets approx 4 walks a week, hour and 20 min each time. Plus we try to rile her up and play with her around the house. The thing is, on a day we walk her behavior is the same, if not worse, as the days we don't walk. Plus its gotten worse since winter, when we barely walked at all.

In all other ways she is such a perfect pet!!! Any suggestions would be SO helpful...I would love to be able to control this annoying behavior! I was getting so hopeful to be able to leave her uncrated eventually, and now I don't think it will happen at the rate we are going! Thank you for putting up with such a long post.

Phoenix is 3.5 yrs and he will still get into this stuff he loves remotes, cell phones, dvds. tapes pretty much anything u would leave on the coffee table i have tried and tried to get him out of this behavior and the only thing that has worked is just distracting him and also putting this stuff up high if i am leaving the room. When he gets into that " I am gonna go find some trouble additude "
I will usally grab a toy and play with him or do some training with him BEFORE he can get his paws on anything. Usually that works cuz it's mind is an something else. Not to mention after a little play session and alittle training and treats he's ready for his belly rub and to pass out for a few hrs.

I have tried many and many things and that is the ONLY thing that has worked with him …

Dallas gets into moods where he wants to play so he will go for something he knows he isn't supposed to have [i.e. a shoe, socks, etc] & run through the house. I can almost hear him thinking "come & get me mom!" I was told by a trainer not to chase because then essentially you are playing into the game he wants. I usually will just say "NO! Not yours! Drop it!" & let him get to a point where he sees I am not chasing him, at which time he will set the item down. I walk over, remove the item, repeat "not yours" & replace it with a toy while saying "good boy. this is yours". It has its drawbacks since he still occasionally will run around more than other times with the item. However, when he's being good I can now just say "Not yours!" & he will drop the item he has. Those are the good days :p

Well, the only thing I can say is….. You have a Basenji.
Behaviors don't have to make sense.

It doesn't make sense to me to leave things down and wait for the dog to learn to leave them alone. It makes sense to pick things up -- you know full well she's going to get them, so who is really at fault when she does if you leave them down? If that is the way you choose to approach the issue, then you need to adjust to the idea of constantly replacing things.

Do you have kids? A Basenji is a lot like a perpetual 18 mos - 2 yr old child.
SURE they can LEARN, and they will, to not stick things in the electrical outlet, to not pick up the crystal vase, to not use the scissors, BUT those things need to be moved until the child learns those lessons.

A 2 yr old sometimes will do great at following the rules, and then out of the blue they'll do something that they never do -- grab your coffee cup or whatever. It happens and a good parent is aware of and prepared for those instances.

Well, a Basenji is ALWAYS TWO YEARS OLD. They may or may not mature out of certain behaviors to a point, but then one day for whatever reason, a wild hair will bug them and they'll feel compelled to eat the remote.

So, my advice is 1} Recognize you are dealing with a Basenji. They are different. 2} Pick up all items you do not wish to have destroyed; find a new place for them to belong that is out of reach. 3} Work on teaching your dog to "leave it" or "give it up" or whatever your phrase of choice is.
4} Pick up those items you do not wish to have destroyed; find a new place for them to belong that is out of reach.

Repeat daily until your dog crosses over the rainbow bridge.

And don't think that the "stealing" stops the old they get… my "elders" still at times will steal something...

And all good points, if it is something you value, keep it out of the reach of a Basenjis... find a new home for the CD's and all other things out of reach...

Since you noted that she got worse over the winter, you can pretty much count on the fact that she is bored and trying to get attention... and as already said, "Do Not Chase" ... that is exactly the response she is looking for....

You are right... put them out of reach.. tell your Mom and Husband they are wrong!!! period...

Thank you everyone for the input…I have just been so frusturated because she has gotten so much worse so quickly, and I am not sure why. Nothing in her routine has changed, and she walks way more now than she did in the winter. Its just so weird that she suddenly decides to go for the remote and laptop when for the first year we had her she did not touch these things. We used to go to the grocery store and leave her out, in the living room, with remotes out/laptops open, becuase we didn't even consider that she woudl get them, since she always leaved them alone. Do you have any idea how we can get get back to this point? Yes, I could leave those things out of her reach, thats what I am trying to convince my husband of all along, but like he says, won't she just go for something else?

How do you teach the drop it command? From what I read on here, you trade for a treat, but like I said earlier to Tosca this means "I pick up something I shouldn't, I get a treat."

I completely agree that possibly she is bored, although why the cabin fever kicked in now, I don't know. Any ideas on how to engage her more in play? We don't have a fenced in yard, so she cannot run, and I do walk as much as possible, but it would be nice to be able to do something at home. She has AMPLE toys, and unfortunately ignores them all, except for stuffed animals, which she loves but has to be supervised because she will tear them open, but then actually eat, not just throw around, the stuffing, which can't be healthy.
I tried to engage her in play today, brought out several different toys to try (scarf, stuffed animal, frisbee golf disc, etc) but none kept her interest for more than 5 min before she took to wandering, seeing what she could get into. She used to chew rawhides quite often, but has been ignoring them lately as well...its very frusturating! She does love her kong with treats, but that doesn't last long, and she could stand to lose a couple of pounds, so I don't want to be giving her too many treats/peanut butter.

Any suggestions on how to relieve the boredom would be great, I am willing to play, throw, wrestle with her, whatever it takes, but its so hard when she won't engage back!
Thanks again for your help and sympathy, hopefully we can overcome this hurdle and I can have a happy, satisfied basenji, not a bored, destructive one!

I got a Talking ball for Phoenix he's not much of a toy lover { except the ones he can rip apart and make a mess} But He LOVES a toy that talks i think maybe he thinks there's "a little person in the ball" and has to get them out lol this is hard plastic ball and it says a few sayings like "woof woof" "i'm gonna get u" "come on puppy" "ouch put me down" and my favorite saying " let me down ur sqishing me" But anyways he realy likes playing with that ball other then that any other ball he cares less for.

I know people on the forum don't recommend it & so I only offer this from my own personal opinion:

We roughhouse with Dallas all the time. Mark [my ex] did it in Florida & now my sister's boyfriend Matt has taken over the job. We basically play with him & he gets kind of nippy but he has fun & is always exhausted afterwards. We actually have trained him with a key word that means basically time to stop with the roughhouse. We say "okay calm down" & he will now immediately settle down…this is typically when he falls asleep actually. Haha. Just a suggestion that I find works for me & probably has a lot to do with Dallas' temperment. He is a VERY laid back dog.

Also, have you considered trying to train her more? Training dogs wears them out mentally & if you use treats it sounds like it should hold her attention. That way you are reinforcing positive behavior & manners while wearing her out as well. Try looking up some cool new tricks you could teach her. We all know, a tired basenji is a good basenji & if she won't play as much with toys you have to find other productive ways to wear her out...training is a positive & also productive way to do that, IMO.

But I am sure other people on here can give you much better advice than me 🙂

When EL D would get a little bored in the winter and start to go after things, I would just stop and take that time to work on his obedience training for a couple of minutes. It would distract him enough and he didn't go back to the items.

I've tried the "not yours" command but haven't been really successful. However, since I've been working with EL D to come to a special whistle, I've also used that occasionaly to distract him.

Tucker used to be bad about this. I think once your dog understands that you are to be respected and are his 'boss', he'll stop doing these things. The fact that he doesn't do it around your husband is indicative of this.

When I have company, Tucker tends to do this type of activity in front of them almost ALWAYS. If my friends come in from Belgium and stay with me, they use my bathroom. When they are in there, Tucker rips up the toilet paper in front of them and steals stuff off the bathroom counter and takes off with it. He rifles through their bags and takes the remote when they are watching TV. If I am in the room, none of this takes place. Tucker has finally reached this state of 'respect' for my GF also. He used to go through her stuff and whatnot, but 4 months later, he treats her like he treats me.

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