Please help me with my out of control Basenji

  • Hi,

    I have an out of control Basenji… *(but mainly at night time)

    His name is Base he is 1 and a half, he is trained well to walk on a lead, walks twice a day and has regular doggy park visits... however at home he is a terror... He has 'attacked' every member of my family- cannot be trusted with children, if you try and take him outside and he doesn't want to go... then he will go you... and he means business... a couple of weeks ago I had to have a tetanus because he bit me so bad... I really need some help - We already do obedience training - but if he is in the mood and you are in the way then too bad... He will bite you...

    Has anyone had a similar experience or know some ideas that will help? I really appreciate any help... Food rewards only work if he is in the right frame of mind...

    PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!

  • @KateJ:

    PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!

    I sent you a PM KateJ.;)

  • I would start with the "nothing in life is free" method. make Base work for EVERYTHING. for his food, his treats, his play time, his walks, any attention, and most importantly, his freedom. Sounds to me like he thinks he's in charge, and that needs to change. he needs to be re-ranked within your family… at the bottom. you & your kids are above him, and he needs to learn that. keeping him on leash in the house (if you can manage this) can help. this way you can correct the bad behavior WHEN it's happening, and reward the good behavior, all the while keeping him with you - following YOU.

    how far along are you in the obedience training? training is a great way to exercise the mind, so as mentioned above, making him really WORK for everything will go a long way in establishing obedience, reinforcing the training, and at the same time, tiring him out.

  • It does indeed sound like this dog is out of control, from your description. I think health tests are in order. He is a little young to have a failing thyroid or eyesight, but it could happen…both of those things will cause unpredictable behavior.

    I think you need to find a qualified trainer and/or behaviorist that uses positive training methods. This person should be able to evaluate your dog, and your household to see where and if improvements can be made in managing this dog. Perhaps an experience breeder in your area can give you some tips?

    IMO, this is far beyond a dog that is just being pushy...this sounds like a seriously aggressive dog, and I wouldn't expect that this is a problem that can be solved by an inexperienced owner, or online suggestions.

    Best of luck...I hope you can find someone to help you out.

  • Im so sorry that you are experiencing behavorial issues with you basenji. I really hope you can get through this without any more pain.
    I was watching animal planet a few weeks ago and they had a special on Cesar Millan the dog wisperer. Maybee reading a book on his training methods may help with the difficulties you are having. I dont think he has trained basenji's but it never hurts to try. I fully agree with Andrea when she said that a good trainer is in order. You B needs to be shown that you are in charge and That kind of behavior will not be tolorated.
    Remember basenji's are really intutive..your attitude can really make or break him. Stay strong and I know it sounds stupid but think happy thoughts to stay positive.
    Also…I wanted to say that I am happy that you are willing to take the time to work with your basenji..most people would just throw in the towel and send them away for someone else to deal with.
    Good luck and keep us posted.

  • Thank you for all your help everyone your suggestions have been very interesting…

    Believe it or not - Base has been a complete angel last night and this morning.. He is just too smart - knowing that I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve... Cheeky little monkey...;)

    I'll tell you where i'm at with it all-

    Yesterday I emailed all the breeders here in South Australia to let them know of my little problem and have had a few responses- checking thyroid, possible night blindness... etc etc... I've been invited out to a show to chat to Breeders and meet their dogs etc, because as Base is my first Basenji there are some things that we are not sure is general Basenji behaviour or generally inaproppriate behaviour (like getting agressive when startled or woken abruptly)

    This is what we have done thus far...

    I got Base at 8wks, By 16 wks he had done two rounds of puppy preschool for basic obedience and socialisation.. We then attended reward based training... but Base had no interest in the food when we were out... and so it was VERY difficult to convince him that what we were doing was a great idea!!! We also had to use a gentle-leader... and he hated it... getting to the point where he would get agressive when we tried to put it on him...

    We then had a reputable dog trainer over for a home session where he met Base, explained how we could go about his training... He also mentioned that Base was was one of the most dominant dogs he had ever come across... Base then attened a three week board and train sessions, boarding with intensive training... This worked well, we had a hand over lesson and now attend weekly sessions at this school...

    I have spent hours and hours searching online for assistance, I saw the Opera special with Cesar Milian, and then ordered his book online - it has been very helpful and we have adopted lots of his ideas...

    Base has to sit when he is coming in or going outside, he sits for his food, and for treats (pigs ears, liver treats etc)... He has kongs to keep him busy, bones and also we have looked into a BARF diet... Just need to find a close provider of pre-made patties...

    I think we will get there... with time and patience...

    We are always trying to stay 'calm/assertive' and not get worked up about it... But its a trying situtation...

    I believe his issue may be neurological... as a pup he did have a couple of little seizures... But the vets have not been too concerned with it...

    Thanks again... I appreciate your ideas and help...:)

  • Hi KateJ - You could be describing my basenji Duke. Especially the dominance part and except for the aggressive part. It does take experienced basenji owners to give you techniques to squash inappropriate behavior. There are tips in this forum, you can do a SEARCH for "Mouthing" and/or "Biting". Helped me and worth the while to read. It sounds like you've spent lots of time with Base in training. I have a 10 mos old neutered male and went thru (1) beginner class. I realized that it's important to be repetitive with training techniques every day. It takes discipline on our part so they can do their part and learn.

    I saw a Cesar Millian episode last night - a book offered at the end of the show was titled I think - learning to be "Top Leader Of The Pack" (not sure exact title but quoted part is right.) I am always amazed when I see his show. Some of those dogs look impossible to correct, but Cesar does get them to be "calm and submissive". I love it when all he does is "shush" them - never yelling. I have tried this and well, it calms me down too. Isn't that interesting? 🙂

    It would be great if you would let us know how Base is doing.

  • I would highly recommend the DVD set The Language of Dogs. It is available at and is really wonderful at showing the signals dogs use to communicate to one another. I have used some of the calming signals and gotten good results. It also gives some insight on early signals to watch for so you can perhaps head a situation off before it escalates to aggression.

  • I applaud you for being so patient with Base and his training.I also watch Cesar Milan from the Dog Whisperer and have tried some of his techniques with Cali and they work. I agree with being calm/assertive, but sometimes I get agitated when she misbehaves and of course this causes her to misbehave more. It is like a game to her:) I know that Cesar Milan grew up with Basenjis on his farm in Mexico, so he is familiar with working with this breed. My brother has all of his Dvd's and books and in one of his books Cesar does mention that Basenjis are harder to train than your domesticated dog breed.
    Keep up the good work and let us know of your progress. By reading the posts on this forum I have learned a lot about this breed. I have been inspired to be more diligent and not so lax on some of Cali's obedience issues.

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    IMO, basenjis are NOT harder to train than other dogs when using positive reinforcement training. They are ABSOLUTELY more difficult to training using traditional coercion, or force methods. If you have a basenji that doesn't like to be forced to do things...and you force them, you will often end up with a basenji that bites to get his way. Once a dog learns that biting can make things happen for them, it is difficult to undo....more force just makes the dog fight harder.
    Again, that is why it is so, so, so important to have a trainer that uses positive reinforcement training in this situation. In Base's situation, I absolutely don't think he is a spoiled or untrained dog. And again, IMO, it isn't a case of the humans not being in charge...I think this dog just doesn't want to be forced into doing things, and the humans can find different ways to convince him that what they want, is also what he wants.
    A great book for everyone to read would be The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson...there is so much insight into why dogs do the things they do....

  • Gipper sometimes get a little agressive, but nothing more than a growl or a nip. It ususally comes when he gets woken up from a nap outside of his crate and someone other than myself tries to put him up. When he's already awake, he's fine. Also, I've noticed that he is virtually perfect when it's just me and him, or him and my roomie- basically when it's him and one other person, he's the most mellow, relaxed little gentelman you'd ever meet. But when two people are there… it takes about a half hour for him to calm down and quit jumping and wanting to rough-house. I try to wrestle with him for about five or ten minutes a day, to let him have some play time, all the while pinning him, letting him know that I am still the "Alpha Male" and always will be. It seems to work really well, because he's getting better and better as each day passes.

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