Can anyone explain to me how to teach Growl?


  • Wow, only 6wks and taken from the litter? That is really young. My pups don't go to their new homes till at least 10 weeks. Maybe 9 if they have a Basenjis or other breed already…

    And do you mean "yodel" not growl? Not all Basenjis yodel, my old boy never yodeled in 17+ years and many times they will learn this or start to vocalize hearing their Mom or siblings... There are some sites on line that have recordings of Basenji's talking, you might want to try them.


  • Some b's are more vocal than others..I have a girl who barks..one woof maybe 2 if she is really excited, or wants her brother to quit bothering her…
    It always shocks my boy.
    I will be intersted to see what advice you get re teaching this behavior.


  • I would suggest teaching OTHER stuff… yodel, talk, roll over, High 5, shake hands....
    while YOU may think growling would be cute...
    it will be the ONE person that doesn't and feels the dog is bring agressive towards it.
    OR even worse... another dog thinking yours is getting aggressive and NAILS him for starting that behavior.

    I also agree with Pat and Lisa, that a pupy should not be in its new home at 6weeks of age. It should be learning social skills from it's mother and siblings. I am hoping you also got your pups fanconi results prior to purchasing him. Of course, I can't imagine the results would be back already since it becomes fairly easy to get the fanconi swabs once the pups are 3 weeks old.
    Where did you get your puppy?

    Best of luck with your little guy.


  • I know the Consequences of Teaching Growl and of the age of my Pup. There's nothing i can do about that other than the best i can. And I will Try my Best.

    I plan to teach Dante To behave properly First and Foremost with his surroundings since he'll be an indoor pet living with me and also to make sure he is gentile with humans.

    Now the Tittle of this post is: Can anyone explain to me how to teach Growl? Please refrain from posting anything else other than that.

    Besides i'll keep you in contact with his progress and someday post a few videos of him.


  • The suggestions were just to help you and your basenji.


  • I know and I am Grateful! But do try to maintain with the subject.
    Thank You All, For your Tips & Help.


  • Please refer back to my post (#4) on the list. There is a suggestion there. And please do not take my comments out of context.


  • @tanza:

    Wow, only 6wks and taken from the litter? That is really young. My pups don't go to their new homes till at least 10 weeks. Maybe 9 if they have a Basenjis or other breed already…

    And do you mean "yodel" not growl? Not all Basenjis yodel, my old boy never yodeled in 17+ years and many times they will learn this or start to vocalize hearing their Mom or siblings... There are some sites on line that have recordings of Basenji's talking, you might want to try them.

    I do mean growl but Yodel will be nice too, Thanks for the Recording Tip.


  • @AJs:

    Nothing wrong with teaching a dog to vocalize on command. I taught an Australian Cattle Dog to whisper. I did it by getting him so excited by playing with his ball his barks came out whispered then giving him the command "whisper" and putting my finger over my lips in a "shhh" gesture. When he did what I wanted, I gave him a treat and lots of excited praise. He learned it in an afternoon. After he learned it, I would give him the command and signal, he would wrinkle his lips a little then give a tiny woof without vocalizing it.

    I would imagine it could be possible to get your Basenji to do something similar by playing a game with him that he would growl while doing (tug-of-war?) then follow the steps I used on Chauncey. Make it fun, and have lots of patience.

    Thanks AJ This is helpful. I'll Make sure to try something similar in the future.

    If anyone has any other recommendations I'd be happy to hear.


  • I wish you lots of luck in teaching a Basenji to do anything immediately upon command. I hope he's the exception to the rule that Basenji generally do things after they've thought about it and decided whether it's in their own best interest.


  • I am sorry but I do not know any way to teach growl. Dogs growl because they are uncomfortable with situation and tell those around them that they would like more distance by growling. If you put the dog in a position where it will feel the need to growl you are not setting up a positive experience for the dog.


  • Or if they do growl, will anyone know that the dog is being serious or not? Someone is very likely to get hurt… I agree with lvoss, growling is associated with an uncomfortable situation, even things like playing tug of war (which I do not encourage anyway as a form of play).


  • I can't believe that you mean actually growling - if so I agree with Tanza and Ivoss. If you mean vocalisation the best way is when you hear him make the required noise voluntarily, which if you're patient he will, praise him inordinately; the same with a yodel. I know there are many Basenjis who never yodel but I'm positive that they all can but don't wish to.


  • @Patty:

    I can't believe that you mean actually growling - if so I agree with Tanza and Ivoss. If you mean vocalisation the best way is when you hear him make the required noise voluntarily, which if you're patient he will, praise him inordinately; the same with a yodel. I know there are many Basenjis who never yodel but I'm positive that they all can but don't wish to.

    Ain't that the truth Patty!!!! They CHOOSE not too…..:D


  • I do hope you reconsider this….......


  • Sorry, but of course this puppy is going to do what you want him to do-he has no other playmates and if 6 weeks is the correct age you are working with, it is far too young for many things. My six week old puppies are just being weaned now and still learning social skills from Mama and they have not been introduced to the whole pack yet! Most responsible breeders won't have their puppies leave until 10 weeks! He's yearning for attention at this point and the closeness that he should be having. By you putting him in a closed room without you, that is not positive re-inforcement in my book. Sorry, but most trainers will agree that this is far too young to start training. Usually 4-6 months-even for police, security and therapeutic dogs six weeks is too young! Ignoring bad behaviours and rewarding good is a great start though. If his line is vocal, in future, it may be easy to teach him to vocalize on command, but if his line is not vocal, no amount of training may help in that area. I have one that never vocalizes. She's three and I may have heard her vocalize 3 times in all that time.


  • While I understand everyone's concern about Dante's age, I do not understand why the owner appears to be taking the heat for something that is the breeders responsibility; no matter how subtley it is said - it is being said to the wrong person. Let's just be thankful that the owner is a) someone who is interested in doing the right thing and asking questions and b) a vet student who should be able to offer lots of appropriate care to Dante as he grows.

    I do not agree that 6 weeks is too young to start training. What do we think pups are doing with mom and sibs if not teaching and learning themselves? While 6 weeks is too young to have ANY expectations they unequivocally know a behavior, it is never to early to start working with puppies. Each of my litters are introduced to all sorts of behaviors and cues the minute their eyes and ears are open. Mine are all quite proficient actually by 7 weeks at sitting AND waiting as a group for their supper as has been shown in the pictures I have used in articles and adverts.

    While I think Dante's owner is on the right track with regard to teaching Dante tricks and manners, et al, I do also hope that s/he is putting as much effort into Dante's socializing. This is CRUCIAL since Dante has been seperated from his mom and sibs so young. It is IMPERATIVE that Dante meet and greet and play with other friendly dogs and puppies between now and at least 16 weeks of age - dogs/pups are able to teach them things humans can not replicate. Note: They can not be the same core group of dogs and puppies - because the core group then becomes the "pack" and you start to lose the pupose and benefits of true socializing. Same goes for people. Dante needs to meet and greet young people, old people, fat people, skinny people, disabled people, black people, white people, green people, people with hats, moutaches, beards, etc. You can not OVER socialize as long as you do it correctly and it is all in FUN with lots of food; nothing ever scary and nothing ever forced. If Dante does not want to approach the man in the funny hat - do not make him - you will instill life long fear of men in funny hats. Instead have the man get down to Dante's level, have lots of food and encourage Dante to approach at his own speed. You can even throw food towards the man and have Dante approach but tell the man to NOT interact in any way with Dante upon his approach - just the approach is enough.

    But I regress (Dante's person if you want a copy of my very verbose puppy packet that I hand out at my puppy classes - email me privately sinbaje@comcast.net and I will send). So - how to teach the pup to "growl" on command. First you have to teach the pup what a marker cue is (such as the clicker or a verbal (and excited) yes!). To do that you click and treat or say yes! and treat multiple times throughout the day for several days - Dante does not have to be doing anything - just standing there while you click/treat yes/treat. Some folks likes to put their pups on leash, then stand on the leash while they do this so the pup can not run off.

    Once he knows what the marker is then you can start finding behaviors you want to mark. In this instance the "growl". I assume you have heard the noise before - at 6 weeks I can well imagine that what you are hearing or what you like is when he grrrrs at you in delight or play vs. actual growling at you to tell you to "piss off" - there is a big difference to the intent. Grrrs in fun are rather cute esp. when they kind of stretch their necks up to make it happen - almost a prelude to a chortle. Since, as I said, I assume you have heard this noise before - you will need to think about what brought the noise on to begin with then try and duplicate it. (That said - IF Dante is truly growling to tell you to piss off as he would to a littermate - I would perhaps not mark that but try to encourage him to make happy, playful noises as the last thing you will want is a pushy puppy who thinks you are a sib he can push around.) The minute he makes a happy peep - any peep I would click/treat for the noise and continue to do whatever it is that encourages him to make the noise click/treating for each peep. If at any time he offers it without your encouragement - jackpot him - jackpot to mean many small, successive, treats being fed to him rapidily NOT just a handful for him to chow on. Note: you can also say good "growl or speak" or whatever your cue word will ultimately be as you reward so the word is starting to become associated with the behavior. NOTE - do not ask for the behavior via the cue word in the beginning - you will only teach him to ignore the word. Only pair the word with the food reward AFTER he has offered it. Sequence would be: growl -> click/"good speak" at the same time the treat is given. NOT "Dante speak….Dante speak....Dante speak" while frustration mounts because he is not giving you what you want.

    Once he begins offering it more often (ie he is "getting" the idea of what you are wanting and he is getting rewarded for) then you can start to ask him to offer it - but only once. "Dante speak" - if he offers you ANYTHING that remotely looks or sounds like he is speaking or trying to speak - REWARD. If he does not, ignore, do something else then come back to it knowing he is not quite ready to have the cue asked of him. Do not repeat the cue over and over and do not settle - just go on to something else and come back.

    I hope this helps. I have had two basenjis that speak on command and it is a fun trick since most people still think basenjis are mute and are amazed they can make "dog noises."


    Gsx-R1000


  • Though there is a big difference in intent between a play grrr and revving to a yodel and a growl, I will say that I have had even really dog savvy people take my girls' revving the wrong way. Especially Sophie who has an exceptionally deep voice for a girl. I know my dogs well and can easily hear the difference between a threatening growl and revving up to yodel which sometime never gets to a yodel but many people are not as good at hearing the difference in other people's dogs.


  • Lisa - you and I are discussing different things.

    I am under the impression Dante's person has asked the folks how to teach Dante to growl ON COMMAND - which is what I (hope) I have helped them with instead of passing judgements on why they should or should not do it.

    Anyone taking a growl on command to mean anything other then what it is - a cute parlor trick - is not worth the time it takes to explain the difference; there is no educating that kind of ignorance.

    Yes, I know all too well how basenji vocalizations can be misconstrued by even the most savvy of dog people - that is however a whole different subject.


    Airsoft Colt


  • @sinbaje:

    While I understand everyone's concern about Dante's age, I do not understand why the owner appears to be taking the heat for something that is the breeders responsibility; no matter how subtley it is said - it is being said to the wrong person. Let's just be thankful that the owner is a) someone who is interested in doing the right thing and asking questions and b) a vet student who should be able to offer lots of appropriate care to Dante as he grows.

    I do not agree that 6 weeks is too young to start training. What do we think pups are doing with mom and sibs if not teaching and learning themselves? While 6 weeks is too young to have ANY expectations they unequivocally know a behavior, it is never to early to start working with puppies. Each of my litters are introduced to all sorts of behaviors and cues the minute their eyes and ears are open. Mine are all quite proficient actually by 7 weeks at sitting AND waiting as a group for their supper as has been shown in the pictures I have used in articles and adverts.

    While I think Dante's owner is on the right track with regard to teaching Dante tricks and manners, et al, I do also hope that s/he is putting as much effort into Dante's socializing. This is CRUCIAL since Dante has been seperated from his mom and sibs so young. It is IMPERATIVE that Dante meet and greet and play with other friendly dogs and puppies between now and at least 16 weeks of age - dogs/pups are able to teach them things humans can not replicate. Note: They can not be the same core group of dogs and puppies - because the core group then becomes the "pack" and you start to lose the pupose and benefits of true socializing. Same goes for people. Dante needs to meet and greet young people, old people, fat people, skinny people, disabled people, black people, white people, green people, people with hats, moutaches, beards, etc. You can not OVER socialize as long as you do it correctly and it is all in FUN with lots of food; nothing ever scary and nothing ever forced. If Dante does not want to approach the man in the funny hat - do not make him - you will instill life long fear of men in funny hats. Instead have the man get down to Dante's level, have lots of food and encourage Dante to approach at his own speed. You can even throw food towards the man and have Dante approach but tell the man to NOT interact in any way with Dante upon his approach - just the approach is enough.

    But I regress (Dante's person if you want a copy of my very verbose puppy packet that I hand out at my puppy classes - email me privately sinbaje@comcast.net and I will send). So - how to teach the pup to "growl" on command. First you have to teach the pup what a marker cue is (such as the clicker or a verbal (and excited) yes!). To do that you click and treat or say yes! and treat multiple times throughout the day for several days - Dante does not have to be doing anything - just standing there while you click/treat yes/treat. Some folks likes to put their pups on leash, then stand on the leash while they do this so the pup can not run off.

    Once he knows what the marker is then you can start finding behaviors you want to mark. In this instance the "growl". I assume you have heard the noise before - at 6 weeks I can well imagine that what you are hearing or what you like is when he grrrrs at you in delight or play vs. actual growling at you to tell you to "piss off" - there is a big difference to the intent. Grrrs in fun are rather cute esp. when they kind of stretch their necks up to make it happen - almost a prelude to a chortle. Since, as I said, I assume you have heard this noise before - you will need to think about what brought the noise on to begin with then try and duplicate it. (That said - IF Dante is truly growling to tell you to piss off as he would to a littermate - I would perhaps not mark that but try to encourage him to make happy, playful noises as the last thing you will want is a pushy puppy who thinks you are a sib he can push around.) The minute he makes a happy peep - any peep I would click/treat for the noise and continue to do whatever it is that encourages him to make the noise click/treating for each peep. If at any time he offers it without your encouragement - jackpot him - jackpot to mean many small, successive, treats being fed to him rapidily NOT just a handful for him to chow on. Note: you can also say good "growl or speak" or whatever your cue word will ultimately be as you reward so the word is starting to become associated with the behavior. NOTE - do not ask for the behavior via the cue word in the beginning - you will only teach him to ignore the word. Only pair the word with the food reward AFTER he has offered it. Sequence would be: growl -> click/"good speak" at the same time the treat is given. NOT "Dante speak….Dante speak....Dante speak" while frustration mounts because he is not giving you what you want.

    Once he begins offering it more often (ie he is "getting" the idea of what you are wanting and he is getting rewarded for) then you can start to ask him to offer it - but only once. "Dante speak" - if he offers you ANYTHING that remotely looks or sounds like he is speaking or trying to speak - REWARD. If he does not, ignore, do something else then come back to it knowing he is not quite ready to have the cue asked of him. Do not repeat the cue over and over and do not settle - just go on to something else and come back.

    I hope this helps. I have had two basenjis that speak on command and it is a fun trick since most people still think basenjis are mute and are amazed they can make "dog noises."

    Thank you I haven't started to teach growl and I've heard it just a few times, I just wanted the knowledge you provided in this response and for that I thank you.

    You also picked up on the mood of the thread and for that you gained my respect. Thank you, and rest assured i'll provide Dante with the best Care I can.

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