Tika Lynn, the monster

Hello! I decided to join this forum because I have a 13 month old tri, which I love to death, but drives me nuts. My husband and I work on training her, and she knows "come" "sit" "stay" "off" "down" and a few other commands, but I would say she chooses to follow these commands about 30% of the time. She constantly nips at my ankles and wrists (not hard, just playful) but doesn't do it to my husband. (She also does it to guests.) My number one goal with her is to be able to take her on hikes without a leash, and trust that she won't run away. Is this possible??

Basenjis are sighthounds, if they see something moving then they will give chase. Most are not considered reliable off leash especially if you are likely to encounter small game. Your breeder should have discussed this aspect of the breed when you told them your expectations.

The breeder definitely did discuss it with us. Tika originally was fine when we were up in the mountains off a leash. It has just been recently that she takes off. We used to be able to do yard work with her, outside of our fenced yard, and she would hang out with us and not mind any little critters. Now, if she even sees a butterfly, she is off! So, yes, we use a leash before even opening the door to get her in the car. She is never outside of the fenced yard without a leash. That is okay…. I was just wondering if anybody has had any more luck than we have. Also, wondering what the best way is to get her to obey commands? "back" and "off" are my biggest concerns. I do not want her jumping up on guests, and "back" is to keep her from running out the door when we come and go.

IMO, there seems to be a challenge of who is in charge here. I get the feeling that she is testing you or trying to become the leader of "her pack".

I'm concerned about hearing about the nippiness, to both you and guests. I think that can get a lot worse if it is not addressed right now. When is she doing the nipping? Is there a pattern to it, or is it quite constant?

I definitely think she is trying to be the leader of the pack! I try to not let that be the case. She really is not that way with my husband. I think she does view him as the leader most of the time, and sees herself under him, then me! haha The nipping is pretty constant. Every morning, every time I walk to the bathroom, whenever I get home, etc…. it is never mean, or hard - she is just super playful. For the most part, she is well-behaved. She is crate trained, and lately we have had to put her in the crate when we leave the house, because she started chewing up things when we left her. (She did have free reign of the house, and sometimes does. We have a doggy door to the yard, and she uses it well.) How do I stop the nipping? Again, she has never hurt anybody. It is obvious it is just playful, but it is annoying, and could hurt a small child.

It sounds like she needs some work with impulse control. It's Yer Choice is a free video available on YouTube that shows one method of working on impulse control,

As for not staying around you when you are out in the yard, what have done to make being with you the best game in town? You want being with you to be so reinforcing that she has no reason to leave. When you are outside how often do you reward her for making the choice to stay with you?

Start taking your dog for several long walks am, after work and before bed.
Also, get her into a gentle training class.
If you do both of these, you will think you have a different dog.
Can I ask, where did you get your b from?

She gets a least one walk/run/jog a day, on a typical day, and gets quite a bit of play time between my husband and me. I am curious about doing some kind of a training, perhaps agility, course. I just do not know that she will listen! haha We can take her to the dog park, and she gets along great with basically all dogs, and loves playing with them. And, in those settings, she typically does listen a little better and come when we call her. So, with all those distractions, why does she listen, but not when it is just the three of us on a hike?

Also, she greatly dislikes water. She is getting pretty good when we give her a bath, as long as the tub is filled with very warm water. I do not want to make her hate water more, but I have had it suggested to me to spray her each time she nips at me. Is that a good idea? I do not want to be mean. My method of grabbing her mouth shut and saying, "No!" does not seem to be working. I probably do that over 100 times a day, literally. She has toys galore, ALWAYS has a chewy, we have had the kongs (believe it or not, she DESTROYS those things in no time flat) and we even give her plastic water bottles on occasion, as a special treat. Where are we going wrong? I do not want her to have all these bad habits because of poor training on our behalf. She is our sweetheart and we love her to death, but I want her to be the best dog she can be, and not feel like I have failed as her mother!

I think she needs more exercise. One walk a day, unless it is a really long one, is not enough IMO, and even if it is a long one, what does she do for the rest of the day?. I have a lovely tri girl, a couple of months older than yours. Now she is mature and able to walk as long as i want her to she gets about 4hrs of exercise a day, split between 2 or 3 walks, with plenty of off-lead running so she is kept busy. As well as that, i try to take her out with me when i can (if im going shopping or to sort my horses out) so her brain is kept busy. She is an absolute joy to live with, very obedient, doesnt chew the house or furniture and has never nipped even when playing. I suspect your girl is possibly just bored and acting out like a child.

I find my girl is not overly interested in toys, she is more interested in me and spending time with me. Maybe you just need to take her out more and incorporate her in the family activities you might currently be doing without her?

But, to be honest, i think if you really increase the exercise she has (and possibly the type of exercise, i swear by free running all of my dogs!) you will find life a lot easier with her - a tired basenji is a good basenji! The only times Maya has ever been badly behaved have been when i havent been able to walk her properly.

Most all Basenjis dislike water and baths. That is typical Basenji…. and ONLY warm water will do... I would never even consider cold water. They learn to deal with it.. good thing that they don't need baths very often.

I don't think that hold her mouth is an appropriate response to her nipping you.. IMO. By grabbing her mouth you are doing two things, 1. She is getting the response she wants from you, attention and 2. I seriously doubt that she understands the connection between the mouth grabbing, saying no and her nipping. You really want to redirect the behavior. Try a loud, sharp yelp when she nips at you... the desired results would be that it distracts her for the moment, enough time for you to praise her for stopping. And remember this will not happen overnight... she has had lots of time to "practice"...

I also agree that she may need more exercise... not only physically, but mentally.

Have you talked to her breeder about these problems? Not sure if you said who you got her from.

As someone who does rescue, I ask you please, don't grab her muzzle.
Maybe dogs are damaged that way, hands, human hands should only give good things.
A yelp when she nips you, with you turning away and ignoring her, will work, if your consistant.
Also, a squirt bottle is an excellent way to get her to stop bad behavior.

Bitter apple spray on items you don't want chewed work for some folks.
It works for my 2.

give all these suggestions a try. I think you will see more positive behaviors.

I totally agree with Pat and Sharron and especially about holding her muzzle when she nips. In my opinion this is the worst thing to do.

You asked whether she can be let off leash. This all depends on where you are walking and on the Basenji. I've had Basenjis who I can safely let off lead (although I never advise others to do so) and others who when they get their heads in the wind are totally unreliable. My current family are not safe to run free - they are killers (their natural instinct). Some of my previous Basenjis I have been able to let safely run amongst my sheep. It all depends on how much they are in tune with their natural instincts.

Re letting off leash, while your having these issues with your b, you don't have the bonding you need to get your dog back, if its loose.
My 2 are only allowed off leash on the Oregon coast, when there are no other dogs running free.
My 2, will head off in another direction, if they smell something to be sniffed, but we walk the other way, or just stop. They come to see what we are doing.
I know this is a risk, any loose b can bolt..you can lose a beloved member of your family, so its totally up to you to make sure they are as safe as they can be, if you let them off

Well, when she goes for the walks/runs, it is usually for an hour a day - and my husband runs her pretty hard. But, yes, maybe she does need more than that! She does get out for other activities; for instance, we just got back from my sister's house. She and her husband have two black labs. Tika LOVES to play with her cousins, and they play on a regular basis, chasing each other, and she chases them when we play frisbee with them. She does like to play with her toys. She brings us one of her balls nearly every evening, and she is always throwing her squeaky toys around and playing with them. I would love to be able to have her run off-lead more often, but that is my problem. How can we do that without her running away? Thanks for the suggestions - apparently she needs more exercise than she is already getting!

I have spoken to my breeder about it some. The breeder is fabulous - she is from Oregon. She never has her dogs anywhere off the lead, and I do not think they get near the exercise Tika gets, so that is why it is nice to hear from other Basenji owners. Our breeder mostly has her Basenjis as show dogs, so they are very well-behaved, and taken care of, but just a different lifestyle than ours.

As to what she does when she is not going for walks - she is usually running through the house, in and out of her doggy door, or napping. It depends on if we are home or not. While we are at work, she typically naps, I think. Although, a lot of the time we see her running in the yard when we get home, so I know she plays some. When we are home with her, it is a lot of "fetch" with her ball, so, more running on her behalf (just not ours.)

I will try yelping each time she nips me instead. Thank you - that is a good suggestion.

oh, and we do not really have a problem with her chewing up household stuff that could be sprayed - she typically goes for clothing (socks and such) or her new favorite thing is to run into the bathroom just after I have taken a bath and she steals my razor, runs through the doggy door, and by the time I get outside it is destroyed. (Scary!) I am now extra careful with the razors, but she just gets weird fetishes like that. The items change every few weeks.

I am sad to hear that grabbing her muzzle was the worst thing to do. Now I feel bad!

haha Just an example of her energy… she has done nothing but run for the past 6 hours, playing with the Labs, or just sprinting back and forth in the yard as we were playing with her. Now we are home, I am typing, and she is running through the living room, grabbing her toys and flipping them in the air, and jumping around.

Dogs are built for physical exercise so it takes an awful lot of physical exercise to wear them out. We usually wear out long before they do. Dogs are not as good at mental exercise so it wears them out alot faster. Try feeding her meals in puzzle type toys like a Busy Buddy or Kong so she has to figure out how to get the food out. Hide treats around the house for her to search for. Work on training her, a short training session can be more exhausting than an hour run.

My first basenji could be let off the leash while I did garden work in front but not on walks - but it wasn't until he was 7-8 yrs old before he could be trusted to do that! I would never ever let my current one off as her hunting instinct is very high and very well developed.
I agree with the comments about the muzzle grabbing and instead use bitter apple spray as soon as she begins to move towards your ankles - even if she's only playing its not a good thing. It may be the muzzle grabbing is reinforcing her view that you are lower in the pack as well; she's maybe tell you to get out of her way.
It also sounds as if she needs more mental stimulation - for whatever reason this is showing up more now than before. If I'm not paying enough attention to mine, she'll go into the bathroom and grab the tissue box and rip up tissue all over the hallway until I either play with her or feed her. Toys that have space for kibble or treats work great - although I've found I had to go through a bunch of different kinds before I found the ones that are of interest to my dog. I also will hide kibble and treats in different places in the house before I leave for work (in her toy box or under her bed covers etc.).

I do hide little treats on occasion throughout the house, but I guess I can do it more consistently. I will try to get some of the Bitter Apple Spray today. That sounds like it may be a good solution. It's not harmful to them, is it? (Tika has grabbed the tissue box before as well. That was fun, picking up tissue all over the house and yard, haha) I do agree she seems to need more mental stimulation. She is SO smart and it is apparent. Sometimes I feel like she does things, just to prove to me she can, and we cannot stop her. It is a little game to her, and we cannot help but laugh.

How did you work up to being able to walk off leash? I have definitely noticed she mimics other dogs A LOT. So, when she is with my sister's labs, she will come when they come. It seems like the solution may be working with her, with them around? The labs listen really well, and Tika has already learned a lot of games from them. When she is playing with them, there is nothing in the world that would make her run off. Maybe my solution is to get another dog??

Did you get your Basenji from Kathy Britton?

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