Our very first Basenji was removed from her litter at way too early of an age, and she was exactly what you describe, a big biter. We were in despair. It was the early 1990s and there wasn't a lot of information out there about Basenjis, so we contacted Susan Coe, the only author we knew who had written a book about basenjis: "The Basenji: Out of Africa to You." She recommended that we squeal and bite the puppy back. That sort of worked for my husband, however, I was the one staying home with the puppy and trying to train her and I couldn't bite her back. Here is what worked for me, when she got aggressive I would put her on her side in a time-out. After all I was bigger than her and I could hold her there and keep my hands clear of her mouth. I would hover over her and growl back "no bite!" much like her mother would have done. She would be furious at first. She would growl and try to bite me. But I would keep her there until she calmed down and once her heart stopped racing, I would give her praise and let her up. I would ignore her for a bit and then be her friend again when she was redirected to something good. She was very much an alpha dog and wanted to rule us, and I was so terrified that she might bite someone and we would have to put her down. I made sure I was very consistent in putting her in a time out and not allowing her up until she had fully calmed down. It worked, and even though she continued to challenge us for the alpha position throughout her whole life, she never bit anyone. She learned she could not use her mouth to get what she wanted. We later got her a male Basenji as a companion and he just automatically assumed he was her Alpha so she was very much put in her place. Life became easier with two. We miss those two, but now we have a beautiful female basenji who growls if you look at her wrong. She growls about everything! But she's all bark and no bite and we love her like crazy. Have patience and keep up the good work. You got this!
I've had Basenjis for over a quarter of a century and with the exception of our first one, they have been rescues. My husband and I love the breed and can't imagine our family without one. We currently have two elderly dogs both adopted through BRAT. When they break our hearts and cross the rainbow bridge, we will probably look for a puppy as my husband has been begging for one for quite a while. I've been reading the forum for some time and it seems there can be a problem finding good breeders and available puppies. That has led me to wonder - is there is a need for some responsible breeders? Are a lot of breeders retiring? Out of love for the breed and if there's a need, my husband and I would be interested in pursuing the idea of becoming breeders. My husband is a semi-retired artist (although only in his early 50s), I'm about 6 years from retiring, and we have a house and yard with plenty room. We both know a fair amount about what's involved in breeding, would do a TON of research, and would only want 1 sire and 1 dam (of quality conformation).
I thought I'd start with the forum to get feedback about where the future of the Basenji breeding community seems to be heading. I hope we have a couple years to research the idea as I don't want either of our two sweethearts to leave us. If there are still plenty unwanted dogs out there and no need for new breeders, then I'm such a fan of BRAT, I'll keep adopting. We're in Texas, btw.
Another plug for adopting: Our first pet as a married couple was a Basenji puppy. The challenges were many, and through the years, I've reminded my husband that if I ever wanted to have children, just get me another puppy, and I would be cured of that desire. Nevertheless, we fell in love with the breed. Since that first puppy, we have adopted all of our dogs through BRAT including one non-Basenji. They are well-vetted, and we have loved them all dearly even though they are a handful.
Yes! Thank you to all for responding to my post as well. The environmental issues are a good one for me to research. We live in south Texas on a peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico, so humidity and high levels of mold are the norm. We've been gutting our house room-by-room over the last 13 years to repair and update it, so there have been a lot of new materials, construction dust, etc. And then our town took the direct hit from Hurricane Harvey, our home was flooded, and we're still not back in it. We've decided to abandon our coastal life and move inland, so those environmental factors will be changing. If our gal's health has been impacted by the home and location, maybe the move will make a difference. I hope it's not too late if that's the case.
otisand roar, I have the same question of the forum. My 11-year-old female, Lula, had a grand mal seizure last month in the middle of the night. There was nothing unusual about her week or anything that we can attribute to possibly triggering it. We have had 3 Basenjis and the two before her also had seizures in their golden years. We are beginning to think we are cursed with seizing Basenjis. They have been fed different diets from homemade to high quality, no preservative kibble or semi-moist, and none have been blood-related. We are heartbroken because we know the trials and tribulations related to medicating and the eventually degradation of their faculties if the seizures continue. I would be interested in knowing if this is a developing health trend with the breed or other potential factors that could contribute to our streak of bad luck. We love the breed, and I can't imagine life without a Basenji in it.
Thank you all for the suggestions. This is just what I was looking for, "but she could learn to leave the chickens alone while you are out enjoying the yard together."
We have another yard where she goes normally, but we just fenced in the backyard so we could have the dogs join us.
Our cats have their own indoor room, and we built an outdoor playroom that is completely basenji-proof.
The chickens are a new addition, and they have a secure house, but I don't want Lula getting injured trying to figure out a way to get into the hen house. And, unfortunately if she gets past people coming in and out of the house, our neighbor's fencing is not secure enough to keep out a basenji.
We had 2 basenjis before who loved to chase rabbits, but they were great with cats and never killed anything. We have been surprised by how strong Lula's prey drive is. After reading the story about the deer, I have no doubt she would try to do the same. I figured if there was any training method out there that might work on a basenji, the forum would know. She has become desensitized to one of our cats, and they spend a lof time together, however, not without supervision.
She is a beautiful dog, and for the first year was amazingly well behaved for a basenji. Once she realized her "forever" home was for real, and we were madly in love with her, she started letting her basenjiness show.
Gotta love 'em!
I figure the answer won't be, "Yes, there's a training method." After all we're talking about a basenji. However, how about a pill, or a shot, or a surgical procedure?
Maybe some creative method like hanging a dead chicken around her neck for a night?
We really would like to live a peaceful existence with her.
I am new to the forum but not new to basenjis. We have a female rescue who is obsessed with hunting and killing other animals such as our chickens and our neighbor's birds. She will blindly go after even the big ducks. We haven't actually lost any birds yet because she does not have easy access to them, but she cannot join us when we spend time in the backyard because the hen house is back there, and she spends the entire time trying to get into the building. Nothing distracts her from her goal of trying to get to the birds.
Her hunting instincts include the need to go after cats. We have a lot of cats, but again, we have been very careful to limit her access.
Some day, however, she's going to get past us or find a way out of the yard and kill something.
Is there anything we can do with a hunting obsessed basenji?