Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Basenji and the Door Bumper

Since I work from home with a generally predictable schedule, I try to keep to a regular routine of three walks a day with Bow. There are beginning of and end of the day walks of at least 30 minutes and usually before and after the respective “doggy rush hours” since I am a fairly early riser. We also usually try to slip in a quick 15-20 minute walk after lunch.

This usually does the trick for a content basenji and not too much excitement when we are ready for our regular walks.

There are occasions when it’s quite clear that she wants to go out now or that she thinks I’ve waited too long for her assigned walking time. Her signal is clear and predictable – she paws the spring door bumper. It’s usually one quick hit, but sometimes if she’s emphatic enough, she will hit everyone in the house, sometimes making several rounds with a louder “BONG!!!” with each loop of the house.

A couple of people say this simply couldn’t happen or that no dog is that smart, to which I give the usual “But you’ve not been around a basenji.”

Most people (some of whom have seen it) agree that is what she is telling me, but I’d appreciate others weighing in on the appropriate response.

· Is it best to respond and take her for a walk, or is that caving in and reinforcing manipulative behavior?

· Is it best to ignore it until there is relative calm and then go?

· If ignoring it results in the behavior escalating, then what?

· Has anyone else experienced this behavior?

Although we have a small garden/yard with grass and concrete, she has never “done her routine” out there. Whenever the back door is open, she is out there in a flash, sniffing around, peeking through the fence to see if the neighbor dogs are out, and back in the house in 90 seconds or less.

To date, this has never happened more than two to three times a month, but I’d be interested in other perspectives or suggestions or if this is a brooding issue that needs to be addressed.


  1. Bow was one of the BRAT dogs that if I could have would have adopted. You are so lucky to have such a beautiful basenji. I think she is very smart to know how to hit the springs for the doors. My male basenji I taught him to hit a large bell I put on the door. Yes he did the same thing would hit it even if he did not need to potty. I think he only wanted to check the yard. Best of luck with Bow.
    Fran, Bella, Mia (BRAT) and forever in my heart Tokalosh (8/4/08)

  2. Every day I am more amazed by what a gorgeous and smart girl I have. Some days I wish she weren't so smart so she would just follow orders, but that's half the fun of our bonding as a pair.

  3. I'm sure that's what Bow is telling you. If you're certain she doesn't have to potty (and since the back yard isn't part of that routine, she probably doesn't), I wouldn't jump up to let her out every time she boings the spring. It's good for her to learn that you have a life, too. ;) Teaching her "Not now, Bow" may come in handy in many instances.

    I taught Ruby to ring bells on the door when she needs to go out. Now when she wants something, she runs through her entire bag of tricks, including ringing the bells. It no longer means she has to go, just that she wants something - usually food. See

  4. My dogs all ask to go "out" when they need to potty by pawing at the kitchen slider which goes out to the fenced in backyard. The fosters soon learn "this is what you do..." I had one foster, Dillon, who would paw at the slider if he felt he wasn't getting enough attention!

  5. I had to remove all spring bumpers! :(
    When we first were adopted by our BRAT Zorro, he was a problem. Even though there was another B in the house, he had severe separation anxiety when the humans were gone. Those spring bumpers are pretty strong. But Zorro would pull on them until they were STRAIGHT. They are about 3 feet long when pulled straight.