Off leash??

Hello everyone, Just wanted to know if anyone had had success training their Basenji to stay off leash without running away and not coming when called. I know everyone says dont trust them off leash, but does anyone have any tips ??? Or at least making him stop and come back when he goes??
Thanks
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Basenjis are a sighthound, chasing things is what comes natural…. no sighthound should be trusted off lead.

I walk my basenji off lead every day and she has a very good recall, better than my labradors even. No dog is 100% off lead and you have to be sensible - not walk them loose near roads or anywhere they can get into trouble, that goes for any dog! My labradors, as obedient as they are, will also chase after things but they will come back when they are called. Maya has chased after rabbits/birds/deer when they have rushed out of hedges or stuff and she always comes back.

I taught her recall by taking her out with my other dogs as soon as she was able to, she learned from them that when i call, you come over! And she would get treats and lots of fuss when she came back, and still does occassionally now just so she knows she is being good.

I dont agree that just because a basenji is a sighthound it shouldnt be walked off lead, i personally do not think it is healthy for a dog with the exercise requirements of a basenji to only be walked on a lead, but im sure some people will disagree with that. Im lucky to have a fully enclosed dog park to walk my dogs in (where i taught Maya recall) and also hundredss of acres of farmland which is where we mostly walk these days.

It certainly is possible to teach recall with a basenji, but you have to use common sense when walking them like any other dog.

@Maya:

I walk my basenji off lead every day and she has a very good recall, better than my labradors even. No dog is 100% off lead and you have to be sensible - not walk them loose near roads or anywhere they can get into trouble, that goes for any dog! My labradors, as obedient as they are, will also chase after things but they will come back when they are called. Maya has chased after rabbits/birds/deer when they have rushed out of hedges or stuff and she always comes back.

I taught her recall by taking her out with my other dogs as soon as she was able to, she learned from them that when i call, you come over! And she would get treats and lots of fuss when she came back, and still does occassionally now just so she knows she is being good.

I dont agree that just because a basenji is a sighthound it shouldnt be walked off lead, i personally do not think it is healthy for a dog with the exercise requirements of a basenji to only be walked on a lead, but im sure some people will disagree with that. Im lucky to have a fully enclosed dog park to walk my dogs in (where i taught Maya recall) and also hundredss of acres of farmland which is where we mostly walk these days.

It certainly is possible to teach recall with a basenji, but you have to use common sense when walking them like any other dog.

I agree with you Jess, but sometimes people try and do off leash, but do not have a proper place to do the basic training. And you are lucky that you had an enclosed area to teach her (with help from the other dogs, which I think makes a big difference too).. and open spaces in which to let them run.

If you don't have the appropriate area in which to let them run, then IMO, you are only opening yourself up for trouble.

@tanza:

I agree with you Jess, but sometimes people try and do off leash, but do not have a proper place to do the basic training. And you are lucky that you had an enclosed area to teach her (with help from the other dogs, which I think makes a big difference too).. and open spaces in which to let them run.

If you don't have the appropriate area in which to let them run, then IMO, you are only opening yourself up for trouble.

I agree 100%.

I've had a lot of emails from people asking how I trained Maya and for advice with their own basenjis that aren't reliable off lead and to be honest, i think once the habit of running off when you call them is established it would be almost impossible to break it. I cant imagine you could have a reliable recall (as reliable as any dogs recall can be) without starting from very young. I started from day one with Maya, in the house and garden. And having my "pack" of well behaved dogs helped enormously, i imagine it would be very difficult to teach recall to a basenji without other dogs for them to copy as, Maya at least, has always followed what the other dogs do and learned from them more so than learning from what i am teaching her directly.

From what i've heard from my pug friends in America, dog parks are more common over there than here so possibly the best idea is to drive the dog to one of these parks to teach them recall and basic training if there aren't any locally.

Careful because even if they're good off lead they can run off chasing something and go out of sight of you and get freaked out and run the wrong way looking for you which has happened to me. Luckily they were smart and ran back to the car since I parked in the same spot every time. One time one of mine followed a couple and they took him home. I did get him back after hours of searching a very large hilly area.

@nobarkus:

Careful because even if they're good off lead they can run off chasing something and go out of sight of you and get freaked out and run the wrong way looking for you which has happened to me. Luckily they were smart and ran back to the car since I parked in the same spot every time. One time one of mine followed a couple and they took him home. I did get him back after hours of searching a very large hilly area.

Maya often runs off out of sight (as do the other dogs), i just carry on walking and she soon appears again 😃 I think if you panic and run after them yelling they're more likely to run off as you're making a big deal out of it. From what i've read over the years of basenjis as they are used as hunting dogs in africa, part of their method of hunting is to go off out of sight and look for the prey.. Thats just what i read so i dont know for sure as i've never seen it myself. They would not make very good hunting dogs if they disappeared everytime they saw something to chase though, they have to be somewhat trainable 😃

My Bs don't get off lead except for my own garden (although the 2 boys have discovered they can now jump the fence to chase deer - but that's another story).

When my first B was young, we took him to a field to run him loose. He was great at recall (he also had 2 other breeds to teach him) and we even let him off when we went to beaches etc. What I have discovered is that Bs are fine at recall when they are young - maybe up to 18 months or more - then they get wise and cannot be trusted. Maya is still a young dog, please always remember she could run off at any moment. I have also discovered that bitches are a bit more reliable than dogs (but that's just from my own dogs experiences). The most important thing is to know your dog really well and be responsible about where/when you do let them off lead.

@Maya:

Maya often runs off out of sight (as do the other dogs), i just carry on walking and she soon appears again 😃 I think if you panic and run after them yelling they're more likely to run off as you're making a big deal out of it. From what i've read over the years of basenjis as they are used as hunting dogs in africa, part of their method of hunting is to go off out of sight and look for the prey.. Thats just what i read so i dont know for sure as i've never seen it myself. They would not make very good hunting dogs if they disappeared everytime they saw something to chase though, they have to be somewhat trainable 😃

My 3 previous Basenjis were excellent off lead. The one that get lost a couple of times over 12 years panicked when he could not see me. My first got lost/found once in 17-1/2 years because it was very dark out and that dog was the best off leash.

Basenjis are sighthounds and they will chase what moves. Even dogs with good recall can get caught up in the chase and truly not hear you when you call because they are so intensely focused on the chase. Because of this trait, there are not many places where it is safe to let basenjis off leash because you would need an open space well away from traffic with a low likelihood of flushing game. Some people have access to these types of areas but many do not.

Recall is an important thing to teach all dogs irregardless of whether you ever plan to let them off leash. I start teach recall using name response. I call the pup's name and when they start turning towards me, I click and then give their treat when they get to me. As I continue with the training, I raise the criteria for the click so that they have to be coming to me when I say their name with speed to earn treat. I practice this lots and lots and lots. I reward heavily for responding to their name. You can make it a game. Hide in different rooms and call their name and reward them for finding you. Call them between two people in different rooms. When they are out in the yard playing call their name and reward well for leaving play to come to you. Take them out to parks on a long line and when they get several feet out from you call their name and reward coming to you. You can work towards being able to drop the long line but have it there so if you need to step on it you can but reinforce coming to their name. Practice, practice, practice.

I have taught this best with Rio and she will be turning to come to her name before she even realizes why but it took lots and lots of reinforcement. There needs to be a really good reason to leave the thing they are doing which they really want to be doing to come to you. Use really good treat chicken, cheese, hot dogs, whatever is super motivating for the dog.

When we got our first Basenji they told us "DONT LET HIM OFF THE LEASH" we didn't do that but always feeling a bit down about it…

When we got our second Basenji (we learned a lot since our first) we put him off the leash immediately when we got him and he learned it very well.
Thanks to him, our oldest Basenji is able to walk of his leash too.

I have to say, we love at a ship so we are on many different places and we won't let them off the leash before we know if there is any traffic, people with other dogs or other wild animals (if there are, we don't put them off the leash)
Chafuko is able to walk off the leash when we are at show and my husband is training him in the ring.. he loves that kind of private attention.

@Benkura:

When my first B was young, we took him to a field to run him loose. He was great at recall (he also had 2 other breeds to teach him) and we even let him off when we went to beaches etc. What I have discovered is that Bs are fine at recall when they are young - maybe up to 18 months or more - then they get wise and cannot be trusted.

This has been my experience too. It works until it doesn't. My dogs are off lead to do agility and lure coursing, but there is something for them to focus on. I would never trust my dogs off lead on a hike where there are lots of critters for them to encounter/chase. Of course where I am, a hike may include cougars, coyotes, snakes (okay not now with all the snow on the ground), and rabid skunks (yes, that was on the news last night). Not to mention other people/dogs. There are some off-lead dog parks in the area, but with 4 dogs and 5 acres to myself, I don't really feel the need to go there.

I would say if the OP is interested in training a superb recall, get a booklet/video called Really Reliable Recall. You can find it at dogwise.com. The author has trained Afghans and whippets using this system. AND practice, practice, practice those recalls (good idea for everyone!!)

I totally agree with Ivoss about when and where to let Basenjis run, no matter how well trained you think they are. It's easy to get complacent because they are good at recall but remember please, that if instinct takes over (and it easily can) no amount of training will get them to come away from the chase.

I have seen so many tragedies (fatal and also life damaging) over the years with Basenjis whose owners had disregarded the fact that they are a hunting dog - just relied on their obedience training. - Most of these have had inexperienced owners but one belonged to a very experienced breeder who had their Basenjis free running in the forest for 40 years (some of you on the forum will know this lady). I do know that there are Basenjis whose huntiing instincts are less strong but always be aware, please.

Possibly it will change when she is older 🙂 But i know her mother is exercised off lead with her "pack" of gundogs and has a good recall so maybe its genetic too lol

@Maya:

Possibly it will change when she is older 🙂 But i know her mother is exercised off lead with her "pack" of gundogs and has a good recall so maybe its genetic too lol

Having a good reinforcement history really helps. The more they are reinforced for recall the better they get at it. On the other hand, the longer they go without reinforcment the weaker the response will be. So if you are able to take her out frequently and when you are out you are reinforcing frequently there will be a high probability that she will come when called because she knows there is a high probability that she is going to be rewarded for doing it.

We have fenced dog parks here so I have let my training go, but I trained this pack, and my previous pack (5) to come to a whistle (like a sports whistle). I did it with high value treats and all 5 got it within about 15 minutes. I was able to trust them at a field near our home, near a non-busy road. The sound of the whistle carries much farther than my voice, so I could let them go a good distance, they would turn on a dime and return when I blew it. When I got Topper, he trained just as easily. Nicky was harder and I didn't work too hard on Ed as we had nice fenced parks by then.

I am a firm believer in the whistle, we still keep one hanging by the front door!

That said, I would not trust any basenji, no matter how well trained, near any road or other danger, all it takes is one refusal to cost their life.

Thanks everyone for the comments and info. I agree, and I dont intend to walk Ayo off lead because I live in the city of Santo ODmingo and its is hectic. No wide open car free spaces. I was more concerned with situations where he could run out as I open the door, or teaching him to sit and stay while I pick up after him on the sidewalk, and also when I go out of town to the beach or country where he can roam I want him to come when call and also stay if I need him to. I am trying to start early with his training and I have noticed that having another dog helps himlearn certain things like come. My friend has a Pomeranian and they play tgether when I call her to come she comes right away and he follows !! Thanks a lot for the info. I was worried because this morning i opened the door to get the paper and he ran out and I was chasing him on the sidewalk, luckily he didnt try and corss the street. I am now fencing my small porch and teaching him to sit and stay when i open the door.
thanks a lot for comments and iput, will keep you poted on progress.
Dmey

We have a 6 foot high solid wood fence in our backyard. When I get my basenji, that is where he will be off leash, and even won't be left alone. My sister takes her mellow, aloof chow to a contained off leash area in a park, but I'm hesitant to do that. For me, it would be the same as letting a todler 'loose' next to a street. I absolutely couldn't live with the consequences.

I have a place I can take zoe off leash far away from traffic and she is fine, always comes when I call. But if she manages to get out the front door she runs. In fact she did this last night and I was so afraid for her as she ran farther then she has ever run. The few times she has escaped before she just ran around the neighbors yard then decided to come. Last night she ran down the street and had me chasing her until a neighbor brought out his dog so she would run over to play. I could see she had the devil in her. Her whole attitude was so joyful she was not planning on coming anytime soon she was having too much fun but the stress of seeing her out like that had my heart pumping in fear. I was so scared I wanted to just yell at her when I finally caught her but I didnt because I knew it would just make the next time worse.

First Basenji's

Hello dmay! You asked for some input about what to do for recall. All the input above is good. Here is what I suggest as it works "most" of the time for me. 1) condition them with a whistle and food/praise reward-even if it takes him 15 minutes to come home….(of course you would have to start in a safe area and I am not writing a 'book' about training here, so it is short....) 2)if he is off leash, and you see him 'thinking' about running somewhere, make silly loud calls(don't say COME! I use "THIS WAY") and run the other way pretending something is so much more interesting than what he wants...! 3)Watch his gaze, intercept his little mind BEFORE he runs, and make something worth his while to go to instead of the other direction. Like I said, this works most of the time. Try it!

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