Independence and a strong will are the common traits of a Basenji; however, they are not characteristics that can or even should be trained out of their personality. Being descendants of wild African dogs gives them unique qualities that are bred so deep there is no chance for changing them any more than there is chance for changing their eye color. These traits come from a long history of hunting and survival instinct. This does not mean there is no room for obedience training; however, those who assume they can simply dominate four thousand years worth of hardwiring may want to reconsider.
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The Basenji of the wild was quite accustomed to being responsible for hunting down its own food. This lack of dependence on others carried into a type of self confidence that finds the Basenji of today relying on its owner's approval much less than other breeds. This can make training somewhat difficult but only if approaching it with the mindset that doesn't allow owners and Basenjis to work together. Training should start as soon as possible for the Basenji. This is a breed that has good sense of self worth and will not respond to reprimands or harsh punishments. The Basenji is known to do extremely well with clicker training.
The need to roam has much to do with the inherent need to survey and establish a vast territory. Be it the backyard or the entire neighborhood, the Basenji is one that faithfully defends what it considers to be its own domain. The Basenji that is socialized from the beginning is one that is able to manage better when it comes to run ins with other dogs and people. They have been found to do fine with other animals in the house when raised together from the beginning. Small animals can trigger a Basenji's hunting instinct and should always be kept safe behind closed doors. This intelligent dog will not hesitate to climb anything to get what it wants.
Crate training is often recommended for the Basenji when they are young. While these roamers do not particularly like being penned, it is a matter of protection for the owner and the Basenji. All too often, a pup will either chew up something of value or get into something that could make them ill. Puppy proofing a home for the Basenji is an absolute must. Even with consistent training, the older Basenji may not tolerate crates during the day when an owner is at work. Many owners instead opt for a secure dog run with shelter so that their Basenji can be out in the fresh air during the day. A Basenji that is isolated or penned up for long periods of time will eventually develop negative behaviors and become destructive.
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