@zande thank you for your reply! That's a great suggestion!
This behavior of hers applies to any small dog we come across, so it's not something that I can predict, unfortunately, which is part of what makes it so hard! We also go to lots of different woods, so I can't ever be positive who we're going to meet. She doesn't do it in dog parks, interestingly, but those are closed right now and all my dogs and I much prefer the woods anyway.
Aiii anyway, I really appreciate your thoughtful replies!
and as a general note, I REALLY don't believe in 'well that's just the way basenjis are so I don't have to try to correct inappropriate or dangerous behavior' - yeah, it's going to take more time and effort than with other breeds, but that's sort of what you sign up for when you get a basenji. It's your responsibility to make sure they are respectful members of dog (and human) society. That goes for any breed. Yes, basenjis have deeply buried instincts, prey drive being at the forefront, obviously, but throwing your hands up isn't fair to them or other dogs/owners
@zande yep, basenjis off leash has yet to be a problem for me and I've had 3 now. I only ever let them off in the woods, far away from traffic.
And yes, I absolutely believe she knows the difference between prey and dog, even small fluffy dog. I don't want to take away the joy of running through the woods for her, but I can't in good conscience allow her to frighten other dogs and their owners. My job, hard as it is, is going to have to be getting her to listen when other dogs say 'stop'
So being off leash was one of the first things I trained my basenji (1.5 year old girl) to do because I go hiking multiple times a week with my dogs. She does wander and she does chase squirrels and other critters, and I am ok with these behaviors since 1) they’re instinctive and 2) she knows to come back and check in with me. It’s never been a problem.
Recently, however, she’s started to equate small dogs (particularly small fluffy dogs) with prey and shows typical hunting behaviors when we come across them. She stalks, chases and nips at them when she reaches them. Sometimes they run, which of course exacerbates her prey drive.
I’m afraid she’s going to do some real harm and can’t justify having her off leash in the woods anymore, on the off chance we come across a small dog and I’m not able to grab and leash her in time. Right now my plan is to put her on a long lead and go back to the basics, redirecting her any time she wants to chase anything.
I’ve seen other people discuss this issue in the forums and wanted to ask for any tips/tricks/ setting expectations that others have used that have been effective.
My goal is to hopefully one day be able to allow her off leash again but again, I can’t justify it right now
Edit: I think my biggest question is, how do I eventually differentiate squirrels and birds etc from small dogs? I don’t want to forever restrict her from chasing everything, just for her to know what’s appropriate to chase and what’s not
Martingales! They’ve been a wonder getting my 1.5 year old basenji to walk well on a leash. Go on YouTube and you’ll find a ton of great 101 videos explaining how they work and how to train with them (it’s way easier to watch than for me to explain)
Take walks that are specifically training walks, Even if it’s just up and down the street a couple of times. no wandering and no sniffing allowed. The dog’s sole job is to walk by your side and be attentive to you. Have treats on hand and reward your dog every time he looks to you or gives you his attention. It’s also helpful to have him practice sitting and waiting - my girl is at the point where if I stop walking she’ll almost automatically sit and wait at my feet.
She has the most trouble when we’re passing other dogs and we’re definitely still working on that, but just setting the expectation that her job on a walk is to be next to me has made walking with her so much easier.
Once he starts to get the picture you can give him ‘sniff breaks’ too, so he still gets to have fun and do what dogs do. And I take my girl on lots of off leash hikes in the woods, so she gets to have a place to roam and run but she also has a place where it’s time to listen and behave
Bells! My b-girl likes to roam in the woods and I just invested in a loud pair of bells that go on her collar so I can always hear approximately where she is. I started her off leash early like those above and she was attached to me and my other dog at the hip so I just rewarded the heck out of her for those behaviors so by the time she was old enough to gain confidence and want to go off on her own, she knew to always come back. She does chase squirrels and birds but I always go to wooded areas away from busy roads so she can do so to her heart’s content and I don’t have to worry. I still of course carry treats and reward her sporadically for coming back so she never knows when a treat reward is involved. Seeing her pure joy at running full tilt through the woods with my other dog (a catahoula mix) truly will never ever get old
I have the same allergy symptoms with most dogs and it can get pretty bad, but Basenjis don’t bother me at all. I’ve had 3 (1 passed, 2 still with me) and none of them ever gave me an allergic reaction
I’ve also just spent the last 7+ months raising a basenji puppy and it’s definitely not something to be taken lightly lol. I mean our bond is extremely strong (so strong that her recall is actually AWESOME, which is practically unheard of for Basenjis, especially 10 month old Basenjis haha) but potty training was rough, and there was no way I could leave her alone for 8 hours without her having an accident (maybe I could now, but only in an emergency, not something I would feel comfortable doing on a regular basis) - I’ve started leaving her out of the crate for small periods of time with no people home, but she’s living with three other dogs so she has plenty of company. Otherwise I could see her being ultra destructive, even with tons of toys to chew. Even when I am home, if she gets bored she’ll sneak off and find something to destroy that she shouldn’t.
If you reconsidered the adult dog thing, an older basenji could potentially be ok in those circumstances! I have a 12 year old male basenji that will still happily go on 2-3 mile hikes every day and would keep going if I let him haha, but is just as happy to snooze on the couch or chew a a toy or otherwise occupy himself for hours. Obviously you aren’t looking for a senior, just saying that they are tough little guys that are always up for adventures well into their adult years, without the puppy craziness.
We adopted our first female basenji when she was 3 years old and she was always gentle and never destructive, would happily lay around in the sun while we were gone and be ready for a walk or hike when we returned (though I think we just lucked out and ended up with the most perfect, well behaved basenji ever as our first basenji haha). And her bond with us was incredibly strong, even though we didn’t have her as a puppy. A 3-4 year old would still give you 10+ years to build a bond and to have her by your side, and wouldn’t have the same issues as a basenji puppy. I’m actually really glad my first basenji wasn’t a puppy, cuz I definitely would have not been prepared for that. I only considered a puppy after 10 years of living with basenjis, and even then it was really, really hard. But I also understand the desire for a puppy. Good luck! I hope you find the right buddy
Edit: oh, also, sometimes breeders have adults available for adoption! Ex show dogs or dogs returned to them for some reason. Could be something to look into - also in that case the breeder will have lots of info on their history and disposition and stuff, so you’ll kind of have a cheat sheet going into it
does anyone know anything about All Star Basenjis? They seemed fairly legit, with a public FB page with lots of videos of their pups, but when I messaged the breeder they seemed very abrupt, immediately told me what the deposit & final price would be, and didn't ask me anything about myself/if I was a good fit for one of their puppies, which just...seems kind of sketchy. However they did provide fanconi results when I asked. And their FB page says they have been breeding for 20 years and have sired champions etc etc. I just got a weird vibe when I messaged them....does anyone know of them/what their reputation is?
(I grew up with basenjis but this is the first time I am buying one as an adult myself)