Need HELP!

My basenji, DIOR is a handful. At this point my boyfriend and I have no idea on how to train her properly. Here is a list of things that need assistance
1. She sometimes poops in her crate.
2. She pees in the crate and licks up her pee
3. She runs off sometimes when we walk her and doesn't come back when we call her. (She has been hit by a car because of it.)
4. She doesn't listen at all when we tell her to stop doing something.
5. She jumps on me every time she sees me.
6. We can't let her loose in the house because she gets into everything!
7. This ones kind of funny, but she even nips or fights back when she's being reprimanded.
8. She gets aggressive and growls when around other dogs and bites too.

We absolutely love her! But need some help. Our other dog is allowed to run around the house and sleeps with us too. We wish Dior could do that. We hate to leave her in the crate all the time because of her behavior. HELP! At this point any suggestion we will try. 🙂

It honestly sounds like you need to hire a professional or delve deep and start spending some quality time working with your dog. Most of the problems you listen are issues that are resolved with proper puppy training.. Is this a rescue dog?? What does your breeder say, if not?

Basenjis, as a breed, should NEVER ever be let off the leash, unless in a dog park or highly controlled circumstances. This is a dog that harkens back to its wild ancestors, it is not a Labrador… they normally don't come when called. If you were expecting her to act like a "normal" dog, perhaps that is why you are feeling so frustrated. Basenjis are not really... dogs, as we like to think of a dog.

If she is seriously spending that much time in her crate, then it's no wonder why she is acting out so much. I find it unwise to crate a crate-trained Basenji for longer than 4 to 5 hours at most. For a breed with as much energy and vitality as a Basenji has, leaving them in a crate all day is unfair. If she is causing a havoc around the house, crateing her doesn't solve the issue, you are just subjecting your dog to undeserved stress and anxiety. Which I would suppose she releases when she gets out. How much do you walk her?? How often does your B get exercise? The easiest way to keep your Basenji out of trouble is to make sure she is tired when she gets back from outside time. It sounds like your B also needs some boundry training.

How are you "reprimanding" her? Basenjis do not normally respond well to "negative" base training, where they do something wrong and they get punished. They do respond better to positive training, where they are rewarded when they do something right. A Basenji who is punished with by physical force, yelling etc. will normally shut down, and REFUSE to do what you want them to do, or feel "sorry" for what they did wrong.

Again, it sounds like you need to spend some time really studying the breed so you know whats normal and not normal for Basenjis... almost every Basenji book or website will tell you Basenjis are not a OFF leash dog for example. If you really care about her you'll devote that knowledge to her, and look into some training programs, and or behaviorists.

my thoughts:
the "everything" that she's getting into needs be up high or put away so she can't get to it. Set her up for success.
Did you crate train her as a puppy? How old is she?
Sounds like she either doesn't know not to "go" inside or she's in her crate longer than she can hold it. Praise her when she goes outside.
How much exercise does she get? I always read "antsy" as needing exercise.
Like Schouiffy said basenjis as a breed cannot be trusted off leash.
The way I think of training is establishing a language of sorts with your basenji. If you haven't put time and energy into teaching her what you want when you say "sit" or "come", you cannot be upset when she doesn't do it. Have you looked into an obedience class?

Most of what you describe would be a normal B behaviour. Listen? To you? Not really. Lick her pee? Of course, they don't like to be dirty. You have her off leash and she doesn't come when called? Of course not. My male is in Rally Obedience and I would still never trust him off leash. As I stated, IMO everything you described is normal B behaviour. Her crate training is an issue, and by the sounds of it she may not have been crate trained properly. Have you talked to the breeder? I would go with a gentle, positive re-inforcement training class. I think you will both learn from the experience.

I would reiterate what has alredy been said - basenjis can be high energy dogs and require a slightly different training method. They will do what you want them to do IF it coincides with something they want to do - the trick is to convince them they want to do it. A regular obedience class can help but also lots of reinforced good behavior exercises at home (clicker training works great for many). If she gets into stuff, for now I would arrange a corner or other area where you can set up a large exercise pen so she can have some space. You just have to work (a lot) with her.

I have heard that if your harsh with a basenji when it does pee inside the house/crate, they will try to "get" rid of the evidence and then you have a dog who does this everywhere.
My b's are older, but they get a 2 mile walk before we go to work, and I give them at least a mile when I get home.
I so hope you share with us where you got her, how old she is and what type of training you have done with her.
We are all here to help you.

Have you had contact with her breeder? Most of these things are pretty normal Basenji traits and honestly for almost any puppy (Basenjis just take longer to grow out of puppyhood, if ever) and are usually covered with potential owners before getting a puppy…. How old is she? How long have you had her?

I am surprised to hear that you would even consider letting her off leash, we (the breed) have lost more Basenjis to being hit by cars then genetic illness. Basenjis being a sighthound should never be left off lead unless in a secure area, as they chase what they see with little or no regard to things like cars, period.

I also agree that she is spending way to much time in the crate... as we say "A tired Basenji is a good Basenji".... and most likely she is showing even more bad traits/habits because it is her only way of getting attention.

I have a 12 year old (as of 12/20) basenji with over 20 titles to his name. Most of his titles are agility titles where the dog performs a series of obstacles off leash. He's been in the top 3 agility basenjis in the nation for 8 years running. Having said that, I would NEVER just take him off lead in an unfenced area and expect a flawless recall. I'm on 5 acres that has areas fenced and the whole acrage is fenced on 3 sides. He is NEVER just let off leash in my front yard. If he sees a rabbit (and there are many), he's chasing it. I honestly believe that he doesn't even hear me calling his name if he's off leash. (and there is some scientific data to support this) Our previous malinois it took me 3 days to teach a recall off a rabbit. Basenji - 12 years and counting.

My best advice is to find a good, positive trainer in your area and go to classes. Ask to watch the trainer train a class before committing to taking his/her class. If you can find a Control Unleashed class definately take it. Get a copy of Control Unleashed, Really Reliable Recall (dvd or book). What you're doing is not working, in order to get different results, you're going to have to do something different. A good class will help you change the dynamic and get different results.

Are you leaving her out of the crate when you're not there? I could leave my 12 year old out of the crate ever since he was 11 months (I got him at 10months), the malinois, the one that took me 3 days to train a recall off a rabbit, was never allowed that priviledge for more than 20 minutes. My 11 year old is always in an Xpen when I leave. <shrug>Different dogs.</shrug>

Thank you for all your suggestions. I think the majority has said pretty much the same thing. More exercise and obedience training. Funnily enough we tried the training when she was 6 months old and FAILED miserably. sigh Second times a charm. I agree she needs more exercise and we will work on that. And I will try contacting the breeder as well.

Oh, I always tell folks that the basenji won't be the "star" of the class.
BUT if you go into the class with the mindset that your going to help your dog bond to you, you decide that this will be fun, and yes, most likely, you will NOT be at the top of your class, its all good.
BECAUSE what your doing this for is to help your dog look to you.
Your helping the dog see that you are the one who is the can make it fun, and you can laugh at yourself and your dog, but mostly, its working with your dog to create a way to communicate that YOUR working for.

What kind of class? I find my basenjis work very well for treats and so I do a lot of clicker training with them (sometimes I do use a verbal marker instead). And when you do take a class, don't compare yourself/your dog to others. Dogs learn different things at different rates.

I used to take my first basenji (when I lived in an appartment) out on a 20 foot long line to exercise her. She'd run in circles like lunging a horse.

I was speaking of a gentle basic obedience class.
A class where you are learn how to work with your dog.

Another thing, not all dog training classes are equal. I have attended classes with several trainers since getting my first basenji over 10 years ago. I have seen the spectrum of trainers from really bad to mediocre to really great. The qualities of the really great ones are that they use positive reinforcement techiniques, they adapt their techniques to the individual dog, they have different ways to teach the same behavior, and probably the most important thing is that both owners and dogs leave each class feeling successful.

Lisa is right, having a class of sight hounds is much different than having a class of labs.
If you can ask about their knowledge of sight hound, its a pretty good clue.

Sharron, I think the most important thing you mentioned was the walks. For our dog that is the bonding time. Roo really likes it when I am able to get everyone in the house to go for a walk with him and that includes our other dog. Most likely he sees that as fitting into pack behavior. Having said that, when he was very young, I always made him sit and then gave him a treat at the end of the walk. After the walk I took him off his regular lead and put him on a flex type leash or 20 foot lead and let him run between Miranda and myself as we taught him to come and sit. We always make hims sit in front of us for his treats. Then the other person calls him. After about 10 to 15 mins of this on a daily basis we allow him to just run in a circle for about another 10 or 15. We have found after a 3 mile walk this mellowed him out. As you know I did another 3 mile walk in the after noon. Before winter I was able to push it to 4 miles in the morning and 4 miles in the after noon. Not only did Roo really develop his muscularity very well, but another great side effect was I lost weight and became healthier myself.

Unfortunately we are in the cold part of the season and we do have some snow days. We have walked in 26 degree weather with the wind blowing and Roo seems to handle it fine and so does my Boston. On those days we still get in at least 3 miles in less than an hour. We get out when we can but are unable to do this on a daily basis because of the time of the year. We have found that our Basenji loves to run in the snow.

As long as we give him some play time and cuddle time he seems to have adjusted to the reduction in exercise. He is now a little over 10 months old and we have his neuter scheduled for Feb 5th on his birthday. It will be interesting to see if the neuter slows him down or changes his behavior in any way.

I really think the exercise and attention that I was able to give Roo all summer has really helped in forming his personality. He has not been destructive at all. Of course we keep enough toys around to keep him busy and that helps.

We have spent quite some time teaching Roo not to bite but I think its normal behavior for a Basenji to attempt to paw or mouth you when they want attention or something else. I have noticed that our Basenji has never really tried to bite us but if you are unprepared for them to mouth you and jerk your hand away you can unintentionally get hurt or get the impression that they are biting even when they are not.

Anyway, I think the daily walk will probably have the most impact on both the dog and the owner.


I have to agree about the exercise and the training.

I've always been the one to walk my 2 b's at least 3 times a day…long, brisk walks. When I injured my back/lumbar nerve in September, my neurosurgeon told me that I was not to walk the dogs at all (until February) and that in general I was only allowed short slow walks...not miles at any pace...obviously not conducive to walking a basenji. As a result, I had to enlist the help of my brother to walk the b kids. Against doctors orders I would still walk them once a day (shorter), but I had my brother do the other 2.

Previously, the b's only saw my brother as someone to play with and would never listen to him. And Brando would play really roughly with him. Well, the b's have completely changed in how they see my brother now that he walks them. The 2 dogs have completely bonded with him and they actually listen if he corrects them. Additionally, he has been feeding them more often and conducts some training with them...although with the training they take advantage of him because they can tell he's a pushover and they will still sometimes get the treat if they don't do the training right.

It has been a huge turnaround in his relationship with the 2 dogs. So much so that he still wants to share in the walking, training, feeding even though I am almost back to being able to do it all myself.

Jason, I don't think you will see any change in your boy once he is fixed.
I am interested to hear if you think there was…
You also make a good point on making the dogs earn something, sit for a treat, sit for a walk, etc.
All good stuff.

Don't worry about failing the obedience class - my previous beastie EL D was never doing anything properly in class (and I was really getting frustrated) but on the last day passed his exam except for one command and did them without error.
Living in Minnesota (and the last couple of days the temperature never reached 0deg F) we don't get as much walk-time as in the summer. So I always try to spend some time in the house just going through some basic obedience commands - even just heeling back and forth in the basement. 5 minutes here and there - its' not a substitute for walks but it helps.

I recommend a proper clicker training, you have to make clear to her that you are the boss, I recon that in the USA there are also dogschools with behaviour therapist that give proper clickertraining.
It works!
you just need to set everything back, start all over again, a very good way is with the clicker, it is hard work but fun also as the dog has to think for itself and it makes the understanding between human and dog so much better.
A basenji is very intelligent and very active so besides a lot of walks and other ways to get rid of her physical energy she also needs mental challenges, with the clicker you can give that.


We have spent quite some time teaching Roo not to bite but I think its normal behavior for a Basenji to attempt to paw or mouth you when they want attention or something else. I have noticed that our Basenji has never really tried to bite us but if you are unprepared for them to mouth you and jerk your hand away you can unintentionally get hurt or get the impression that they are biting even when they are not.


Dallas will nip/mouth for attention. For example, in the car, he rides in the back seat. If we are not paying attention to him & he decides he wants it, he will nip at the back of our arms [which is REALLY painful!!!!!].

I also agree that walks are crucial. It really is a nice bonding time for the whole family & also serves the important task of tiring the dog out [& human!]. Tired basenjis are quiet "good" basenjis :p Isn't that a motto on here or something? lol

Oh and as for the neutering, I got Dallas' done at 10 months. I noticed he did calm down a little bit. He still has his moments where he loves to terrorize the house. However, those are much fewer & far between than before his neutering. The best part post-neuter for him was that he stopped humping!!! He was humping everything/everyone in sight up until the day before he went in for the surgery. Haha. Please let us know if you notice any changes in your boy!

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