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Basenji Puppy Training

First, here are my recommended supplies for preparing to bring your adorable, wrinkly new Basenji pup home!
Supplies for Raising a Basenji Puppy

Here are a few tips and tricks I recommend for Basenji puppies specifically:

1)  Find a treat YOUR Basenji LOVES.  Basenjis can be finnicky and aren't always highly food motivated, so get creative.  I have even had some buyers say their Basenji's go crazy for a spoon of peanut butter or apple slices!

2) CRATE TRAINING: Basenjis don't naturally like being alone or confined, SO approach your initial crate training slowly and with care.  I believe crate training is crucial, especially to navigate their destructive teenage phase, so it's totally worth putting in the effort at first to help them learn to be relaxed and comfortable in their crate!
TIPS:
*Use a crate that is just barely big enough for them to lay down in
(So they don't go potty on one side and sleep on the other)
 
*Give them a special kind of chew toy or bone that they love, only when they are in their crate... something to make the crate special for them AND to occupy their mind while they're in there.   A Kong toy with peanut butter inside, etc...
I like to use Dream Bones


*Stay right next to the crate at first, so they don't feel abandoned.  For example, at night, I'll put their crate on a chair right next to my bed, so they are at eye level with me (and right next to me) while I'm sleeping.  Once they are comfortable & quiet with that (after a week or so), I'll put the crate on the floor....  then by the door... then in the hallway with the door open....  you get the idea.  Eventually the goal is for your Basenji to be content alone in their crate in a room by themselves.  Why?  So you can leave them in their crate when you leave them home alone, or you can have someone babysit them while you're out of town, etc..   Eventually you can have your Basenji sleep in bed with you if that's what you want, but don't skip out on teaching them how to be happy alone in their crate or you'll regret it later!

*When your Basenji cries and whines when you first put them in their crate, don't let them out, just try to soothe (or eventually maybe discipline) them.  HOWEVER, if they have been quiet/asleep in their crate for a good while and THEN start to whimper, take them out to potty.  The first example is them complaining that they're in there... the second is them letting you know they need to GO. 

Here are some videos of me demonstrating the initial crate training:

3) Potty Training: Crate Training is a key tool to use in potty training, as ideally, they'll quickly learn that it's uncomfortable to go potty in their crate, so they'll try not to. (Unless you leave them in there longer than they can hold it).  So the crate is an ideal place to put your puppy when you're not able to closely supervise them. Plus, pups need a lot of sleep, but don't always choose to because of their inquisitive minds. 
The crate gives them time to nap. So don't feel guilty about having a young pup spend a fair amount of time in their crate.  A well-rested pup is a happy pup AND a well-rested owner is more patient with a pup!
TIPS:
* Feed your puppy on a schedule.  3 x / Day the first few weeks, then once they have grown a bit, 2 x / day is fine.  The reason to feed on a schedule is that puppies tend to poop shortly after they eat (sometimes even during mealtime).  So, feeding on a schedule lets you know when to take them outside to poop.

*If a puppy has been holding still for a while, resting, cuddling with you, in their crate, etc...  they will squat and pee almost immediately once they get up and move around. So, take them directly outside in these instances.  For example, if you've been cuddling while watching a movie.. DON'T put your puppy on the floor when the movie is over...  take them straight out to your potty area to pee.

*Puppies will also pee after playing hard for 10-15 minutes.  So, even if you just watched your puppy go pee outside, IF your puppy then runs around the house and plays for
10-15 minutes, take them outside again, as they're bound to squat and pee soon! 
This amount of time gets longer as they mature, you'll get to know your pup's habits and timing as time goes on. 

*Use an
x-pen located on an easy-clean floor (not carpet) for them to spend most of their play time in (you can sit in the x-pen and play with them, too).  You still need to supervise them while they're in there, but it keeps them contained on that easy to clean flooring AND you don't have to chase them all over the house to keep an eye on them!

*Never let your new puppy run freely around the house UNLESS: 1) You JUST witnessed them go potty outside, and then ONLY for about 10-15 minutes, as mentioned above.  The rest of their life they are either in your arms, in an x-pen (or on a leash) under supervision, or in their crate.  This way they never have the opportunity to develop bad habits like going potty in the house... or chewing on things they're not supposed to, etc...

*Puppies will go potty where they smell they have gone potty before.  So, if accidents happen inside (and they will), clean it up promptly with a dog enzyme cleaner (like Natures Miracle) that gets rid of the odor.  On the flip side, don't be too fast to clean up the place where you WANT them to go.  If there is an area in your yard you want to train them to go, leave their poo there until it's obvious that they've got the routine figured out. That way they will smell that this is their bathroom area.

*While it's most ideal to teach a pup to always go potty outside from day one, that's not always realistic for everyone.  It is totally ok to use potty pads to help in the beginning (or forever... like if you live in an apartment and intend for them to go potty inside or on a balcony).  So, if you're pulling your hair out, exhausted by how often you have to take your pup outside, you can use potty pads until they're old enough to "hold it" longer.  However, don't expect your puppy to have the maturity to "go find" the potty pad like a cat uses a litter box.  You'll want to keep your pup confined in an area (like an x-pen or apartment crate) with the potty pad.  Also, most puppies like to play with and tear up potty pads, so a potty pad grate can be very useful.

*Potty training would be more accurately titled "puppy management."  It's not actually "training" in the obedience sense of the word.  What you are doing is managing the puppy to keep potty accidents to a minimum and keep the puppy from forming a habit of going potty inside. Eventually they will be more mature and good potty habits will come more naturally to them.  Potty training a young puppy is more like damage control :)  THUS, don't stress it too much if accidents happen. Just clean it up, learn from your management mistake, and move on with your life.


Here are some videos of me demonstrating the initial potty training:

4) Mouthing / Biting: While young puppies are teething, they'll want to put their mouths on anything and everything, including YOU and your kids! While I think it's too much to expect for them to not mouth you at all, you can definitely teach them not to do it so hard that it hurts.  I address this issue 2 ways:

*I discipline a pup the way their mom would. If a mama dog needs to discipline their pup, they will bark loud and sudden, then immediately use their mouth to push the puppy's neck to the ground.  (Usually the pup then rolls over and yelps for a minute in submission to mama).  So, I try to mimic this.  The moment a puppy mouths me hard enough to hurt, I will yell "NO!" loud and sudden, while at the same time pushing the pup's neck to the ground with my hand.  USUALLY after doing this only a couple times, all I need to do is growl for them to quickly ease up on the mouthing. I have found this method to be far more effective than the many other methods I have seen taught out there in doggie land. :)   Side note, for young children, I teach them to suddenly "yelp" loud and get up and walk away, like the pup's littermate would do.

*Second, I teach the "Leave It" command.  During play time I will scatter a number of their toys around the play area, in addition to some random items I don't want them to chew, such as a shoe, sock, glove, towel, etc...   When they play with their toys it's all fun and games.  However, when they put their mouth on one of the no-go items, I will command "Leave It!" and will flick their nose with my finger until they drop it.  As soon as they drop it, I will praise them and play with them with their other toys, with lots of enthusiasm.  Pretty soon, I won't have to flick their nose anymore, as they will drop it right when I command "leave it".  This command can then be used the rest of their life, anytime they put their mouth on something you don't want them to, including YOU! 

Below is the best video I could find on youtube showing a Mom disciplining her pup, though the video doesn't show what for. It's totally normal for a puppy to yelp in submission like that in response (they don't respond that way when I try to mimic it though lol):

Below are some videos I made years ago with another breed, about teaching "Leave It" and teaching them not to mouth kids too hard (I should make new videos with Basenjis, as they pick up on things a lot quicker lol):

5) E-Collar Use: I HIGHLY recommend the use of an e-collar with your Basenji eventually.  Years ago, I worked with Innovative K9 Academy to train a couple of my dogs, and they got me started with e-collars.  I have never looked back.  When used correctly, they help make your and your dog's life so much better!  I can take my Basenji's hiking off-leash with me, knowing I can reinforce the re-call if they start to chase a deer or rabbit and ignore my calls.  I am confident I can keep them safe while still giving them freedom to run and play.  This is what I use e-collars for mainly, although I have sometimes used them to teach one not to jump out of their x-pen, or to be quiet in their crate.  Basenjis are VERY responsive to e-collars, and once trained, usually only require a warning tone or vibration, and no electrical stimulation.  There are many brands out there, but the one my trainer started me on, and I still use, are the Mini Educators for 1 or 2 dogs.

Below is a video of my stud, Benjamin, heeling off leash with me as I lead my horse down the road.  Having the e-collar on is WHY he heeled so well, and why I was confident I could keep him safe from oncoming traffic!  I'll also include some videos of him horse riding and hiking off leash, enabled by the e-collar.

Moral of the story?  YES, contrary to what you may read on the internet, Basenjis ARE trainable!  While they aren't like a Golden Retriever who lives to follow you around everywhere asking, "What do you want me to do next?", Basenjis are extremely intelligent, you just need to set and enforce firm boundaries.  For example, check out this great YouTube channel showing Basenjis getting trained! 

Oringo & Makena basenji training - YouTube

 

And this great video of a Basenji showing off her tricks

Seeing as how I'm a breeder, but not a professional dog trainer, you may want to check out some of these playlists from some great trainers below:

(click on the lines in the upper right hand corner to see a list of all the videos in the playlist)

(click on the lines in the upper right hand corner to see a list of all the videos in the playlist)

(click on the lines in the upper right hand corner to see a list of all the videos in the playlist)

(click on the lines in the upper right hand corner to see a list of all the videos in the playlist)

(click on the lines in the upper right hand corner to see a list of all the videos in the playlist)

(click on the lines in the upper right hand corner to see a list of all the videos in the playlist)

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