Can an abused Basenji ever be completely rehabilitated?


You may want to read the story of Queen on the BRAT site,

Great story, thanks Lisa for posting the link. God bless Queen! It's what I was saying before that you need to be patient and try to see the world from their eyes. Try some reach and withdraw on Prince. In other words reach out a little and when he reaches for you withdraw and pull back. It's a game that will make his confidence come up. He'll start to feel a little dangerous. When we reach too much for people and animals they back up or withdraw. Let him reach. Run and let him chase you. Play hide and seek. He'll start to have fun and relax. But do it on a gradient (gradual).

We adopted two Brat b's. Jonny was first, very very shy and jumpy and easily startled. He is really jittery around new people. He is VERY comfortable with our 11 year old… LOVES him to pieces. Hansel, our second came 4 months later. He is VERy social, outgoing, alpha, and not afraid of anything. Since Hansel has been with us, Jonny has really come out of his shell and started acting like a 2 yr. old pup should act. It was like he was waiting for Hansel to come into his life and teach him how to enjoy and love. We cannot imagine our family without them! Jonny still has his moments of being scared, but they are farther in between. 🙂 Be patient. and maybe adopt another more social adjusted b to help. We highly recommend it!

First Basenji's

In May, I rescued Cody (my first basenji) from what was probably a bad situation, although I don't know for sure. What I do know is that he was in pretty bad physical and mental condition when he came to live with me. While the physical damage was quickly healed, he is still learning how to be a loved member of a family. It took him a while to even figure out what treats were. He recently initiated play for the first time when previously his idea of play was when we chased each other around the house or yard. He still doesn't listen to commands although I'm pretty sure he understands some of them and we have been working on them for a while. I was recently laid off, but as soon as I can find another job, I am going to get him into training, which I will be excited to start. There are also times when I'm sure he doesn't like me very much and when he is still sometimes scared. I have to remember not to grab at him in certain ways when we are playing, and like you said about Prince, sometimes Cody enjoys being petted and others he will jump up and run away like you've hit him.

I've learned to be patient with him. Things that others consider normal (or semi-normal, we are talking about basenjis), like coming when called or just playing, are a big deal because he is still learning. He was left to his own devices for so long and probably punished for doing dog/basenji things if the way he flinches is any indication. Luckily he is motivated by food and affection, so ear scratches and cheek rubs work just as well as treats when rewarding him. While it is slow going, I do think he will eventually overcome his fear. He has already improved so much and is coming into his own personality. Lots of patience and lots of love goes a long way.

You may want to work with, or research, how to desensitize. It's not easy and it takes time, but it does work. Just when you think there is no progress, something happens to encourage you further. If, at all possible, you can work on NOT pulling the leash and instead enticing him with something to move forward, you will be able to progress a little faster on the leash pulling. (yes, I realize sometimes it's impossible) I have never seen the dog and cannot give an evaluation, but having worked with some of these dogs, progress is possible. Good luck!


Congartulations on adopting Prince, I looked many times at his pictures on BRAT, he is gorgeous.
I have never rescued a dog, but foster for BRAT and yes the jumpiness and the skiddish, will wane away with time.
Just be consisten, patient and loving..he will get to know you as a family and know he can trust you won't do any of the things that has been done to him in the past.
Again congratulations, and yes, pictures would be great.

I would strongly recommend the shy-k9s yahoo group.
It was very helpful for me when I adopted Katie 3.5 years ago.

You are a gem for taking this boy in. Yes, it is possible to rehabilitate, but it takes lots and lots of patience. AJ still ducks sometimes when I raise my hand too fast, but not nearly like he used to. I've had him for about a year and a half. Your boy will probably always be just a little wary, but in time, with gentle handling and lots of love, he will get better. There is hope…but it takes time to teach him that not all people will hurt him. Please keep us posted on his progress.

Our BRAT was a puppy mill rescue. She is very timid and nervous but incredibly loving. We got her in July and she is still a nervous nelly but is improving. He will probably improve some but will always have a little jumpiness to him.

I forgot to say, good luck and thanks for giving this boy a home.

Thanks for adopting a Basenji and giving him a lovely home. Yes, they do overcome the past, but it takes time. I've worked with my two Basenjis for a year and they are finally doing well. There were times I didn't know if one of them would ever come around! Now, we are ready for some fun stuff like lure course, agility, and obedience training.

I had a scared rescue dog who lived for 6 months under the dinning room table..we had a long cloth over it, and it was against the wall.
She felt so secure there. I could get her to come out to poo, outside, but once in, she ran under the cloth. I fed her there for a few months, then, slowly started putting the bowl a little closer to the edge of the wasn't a fast process, but she finally realized the couch and humans were good things.
Thank you for taking in this dog who needs you so very much. We are all here for you for support.

If he is typically fond of his dinner, try feeding him from his bowl (held by you) one piece at a time - be very patient and you will probably eventually find that this will build up his trust. Your proffered hand with food will teach him that his people have only good things to offer with their hands. This particularly seems to work if the dog has been ill treated by being hit.

Gradually give him gentle commands before you hand him his mouthful and this will help with training. Basenjis like to have things to think about.


If he is typically fond of his dinner, try feeding him from his bowl (held by you) one piece at a time - be very patient and you will probably eventually find that this will build up his trust. Your proffered hand with food will teach him that his people have only good things to offer with their hands. This particularly seems to work if the dog has been ill treated by being hit.

Gradually give him gentle commands before you hand him his mouthful and this will help with training. Basenjis like to have things to think about.

I agree, hand feeding as much as possible. Cook up some chicken breast and cut into small pieces and hand feed. That's what I do.

I have a video at home called The Tellington T Touch. There's some good therapy you can do yourself by just touching and messaging certain points to relax Prince.

First Basenji's

Of my two BRAT boys, the red & white, still is scared of doors, not as bad as it was 4 months ago, he also cowers when I reach down to pet him, Improvment is small, but I do get toe kisses and tail wags in the morning and he looks at me with trust. Hopefully the rebhab of go slow, talk calm and assertative will eventually win him over, his brother is a terror , but we love em.

First Basenji's

Update on The Prince: He really seems to be making progress and is an absolute doll! Thank you all for your supportive messages and great advise. I'm sure I will have to be calling upon all of you again… nice to know you all are here!!!!

Here's a sweet pic of the little (big) guy (I'll be posting more in "my albums"):


He is stunning! 🙂


jepp, he is gorgeous..that prince of yours..:)

I rescued a 4-5 year old male from an owner who treated him more like a cat. Never spent quality time with him, never trained him, no routine, ignored him, yelled at him, and never took him for walks (didn't even own a collar when I got him). Little Benji didn't even own his own bed!

I noticed he was very curious at first about our family, our house. You have to let him explore, get into trouble and use posititive reinforcement only. Especially if you suspect your dog was abused, using negative reinforcement will only cause more damage. Fore example, Benji was obviously use to jumping up on counters to see what's going on, or on the dinner table. In 2 days he was trained to stop doing that with a simple squirt bottle. Now he only needs to see the squirt bottle and he knows it means not to jump. Some habits can be changed, others could be a little harder but use treats and lures to start changing habits. Eventually the lures won't be needed and he will do it because you tell him he is a "good boy" and loves to hear that from the whole family.

My Benji was also very jumpy when you approached him at first, didn't even know how to walk on a leash… but I started walking him 3 times a day and that is the best way to get him use to being very close and beside you. Get all family members to do this and spend one-on-one time with your Prince. Now, Benji just LOVES going for walks. I also went through a lot of treats the first 2 weeks, teaching him to stop on command, sitting at streets, and of course my favourite saying "Let's Go" and watch him run off like a mad man!

Benji now has two beds, stays off the couch, off tables, comes 50% of the time you call him (that's just Basenji trait - hehe), and loves the whole family. I'm now only in the 3rd week and can't believe the transformation of little Benji. He's sometimes up to no good, like chewing apart a bunji cord to keep a gate in place, or clawing a door frame to try and escape confinement, but hey he's a dog not a robot....


I think most b's can learn to come around. It takes time, routine and giving the dog time to figure out its better in the house than, out in the yard, or in kennel.

Exactly right Sharron… time, time and more time.... however "being up to no good" is the slang term for a Basenji!!!!

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