If you are thinking about bringing a Basenji into your home, you will simply need to know how much exercise they will need. How often will you need to walk them and can or should they go on long walks? What about running and other activities? These are all questions that you likely have and that I’ll be addressing here today.
So, how much exercise do Basenjis need? Basenjis have lots of energy and need to have several walks a day, with two to three hours of exercise recommended for the average adult. Basenjis also need to be able to run, but under supervision because of their strong prey drive. If they don’t get enough exercise, Basenjis are known to misbehave as their quick minds get bored with inactivity.
So, if you do take on this breed, you are going to need to be particularly active
Just consider that puppy Basenjis will require much less exercised to begin with.
In fact, they need to be introduced to it carefully and slowly.
Structured walks should only begin once they are three months old (with only 15-minute walks at a time to begin with.)
But we will now explore this much further in the next few sections along with other recommendations for this breed as they age.
So keep reading!
How Often Do Basenjis Need to Be Walked?
Basenjis need to be walked at least twice a day, no matter their age. This breed has a tendency to gain weight if they don’t get enough exercise. However, the length of each walk will be determined by their age.
Younger puppies don’t need quite as much exercise as adults, but they still need to get out several times a day.
Start your three-month-old puppy with several short walks per day of 15 minutes each. You can then increase the time your puppy is walking as he grows.
A general guide for exercising puppies is as follows
Two walks of five minutes for each month of age.
So for example, a four-month-old Basenji could enjoy walks for 20 minutes at a time, twice a day.
Or a puppy of six months could enjoy walks for 30 minutes at a time, twice a day.
Puppies will need to go to the toilet more often than adult dogs, so they will require more frequent trips outdoors. This doesn’t mean a walk each time, though!
Puppies can usually hold their bladders for the same length of time as their age.
When they’re two months old, two hours is the longest you can expect your puppy to wait to go outside to the toilet.
If you wish, you can take advantage of your puppy’s frequent need to go outside with some leash training.
Leash training is essential for Basenjis right from puppyhood so that when you’re walking your dog, he isn’t walking you!
Basenjis are strong-willed dogs who will want to pull ahead, so you need to teach them how to behave on the leash.
Once you go out for longer walks, you’ll be glad your dog knows how to heel.
Adult Basenjis will need several walks a day – at least two – and the total exercise time should be at least two hours.
If you can walk your adult Basenji three times daily, that’s even better. Keeping your dog active is essential for his mental and physical health.
Although Basenjis need several walks a day, you can break this up with other activities (see below.)
One thing Basenjis love to do is go swimming. If you’re fortunate enough to have a body of water nearby, you can take your Basenji there for walks with a swim.
Can Basenjis Go On Long Walks?
Once Basenjis have reached their adult size (by 14 months old), they can go on long walks. Make sure each walk lasts at least 30 minutes.
Basenjis will happily go on long walks and hikes, but they are usually nervous around strangers and unfamiliar animals.
You may want to bring chew toys along with you on long walks, as Basenjis love to chew.
On wet days, though, you may find your Basenji will refuse to go outside!
Basenjis can do well in hot weather (they were hunting dogs in the Congo), but they might require booties and a dog coat for colder days.
An adult Basenji who is at least one year old may be able to work up to runs or hikes of five miles.
Remember, though, that even well-trained Basenjis won’t always come when you call them.
Before heading out on a trail through the wilderness, get yourself a very long lead with a harness.
Hunters used to put bells on their Basenjis so that they could hear them when the dogs hunted with their people.
Do Basenjis Like Walks?
Basenjis like walks, although ideally they most enjoy walks in nice weather and that keep their minds occupied as well as their bodies.
Basenjis are quite athletic dogs who are agile and fast, both mentally and physically.
Because of their intelligence, Basenjis will be thinking while they’re walking.
They want to engage their brains as well as their paws, so the more stimulating you can make your walks, the more your Basenji will enjoy it.
Remember, though, that you will have to keep your Basenji on a (long) lead.
Basenjis will take off at a run after other animals, whether they are beloved pets or wild animals.
They are faster than many other animals, and their strong prey drive means they are hardwired to catch and kill anything that runs.
Basenjis do enjoy walks, but they won’t necessarily come when you call them – they’re known for wanting to do what they want.
Even well-trained Basenjis can’t be out in public off the lead.
Your Basenji won’t enjoy his walk if it’s very cold or wet outside, though. Basenjis don’t like the rain or the cold, so you’ll have to find other alternatives on rainy days (see below.)
Can You Run Wih A Basenji?
Once your Basenji is at least nine months old and his bone structure is fully formed, you can run with him. Start with short runs and extend them as your older puppy reaches his adult size.
Puppies who are younger than nine months old shouldn’t do lots of jumping or running, as their bones and joints are still developing.
A Basenji puppy who has to climb stairs or jump out of a car, for example, can be more prone to hip dysplasia.
Start small when you run with your Basenji and work your way up to longer runs. Healthy adult Basenjis can eventually accompany you on distance runs of over an hour long.
You may want to break up the run with a game or two, as Basenjis do love to play.
If you can’t run yourself, there are dog jogging services available in many areas.
Once your Basenji gets accustomed to a new person, there’s no reason why he won’t happily run alongside his new exercise partner.
It’s also essential to keep your Basenji on a lead, even when you’re running together.
In addition to having a strong prey drive, Basenjis are accomplished escape artists. They have been known to climb trees and scale 6-foot fences, as well as dig under barriers of all kinds!
How To Keep Your Basenji Active
The best ways to keep your Basenji active are activities that stimulate his mind as well as his body.
Here are some ideas for activities that your Basenji will enjoy:
- Walking or running. Once your Basenji reaches adulthood, aim for two walks per day of at least 30 minutes each.
- Agility sports. Basenjis can do well in certain competitions, such as agility training or flyball activities. You can purchase specially-designed home agility courses or make your own using cardboard boxes, fencing, garden tunnels, or other objects.
- Tug-of-war. Your Basenji can play this game inside with you on a wet day. All you need is an old towel or a sturdy rope. Basenjis will play with just about anything, including old shoes and socks. If you do get a rope toy, make sure it’s designed for dogs so that it doesn’t fall apart in your dog’s mouth.
- Hiking. You can take your Basenji hiking through natural reserves where he can get plenty of stimulation for his senses as well as his body.
- Fetch. Throwing a ball or a Frisbee for your Basenji will keep him happily occupied while providing him with lots of running to burn off all of that energy. You can have your Basenji run up a hill or into water, too, for an added level of difficulty.
- Lure coursing. Basenjis do very well at lure coursing where they can run after ‘prey’ in a supervised environment.
- Nose work. Their excellent sense of smell and high intelligence means Basenjis can do well at nose work. You can play games of ‘find the treat’ by hiding treats around your house to keep your Basenji busy. Or hide your dog’s favorite toys – some Basenjis do better at this than others, so see what your dog prefers.
- Advanced training (including tricks.) Teaching your Basenji tricks is an excellent way to keep his quick mind occupied.
Note: Basenjis were originally used to flush game into nets for hunters. If you want to try sporting dog training with your Basenji to keep him busy, you can try, although know that he’ll be more challenging to train for this than other breeds.
You’ll also want to remember:
- Always have some chew toys handy – Basenjis love to chew!
- Establish a schedule for your Basenji, such as a walk or a run after breakfast and dinner and an extended playtime in the afternoon with games you can enjoy together.
- Basenjis love to roam and have minds of their own, so keep the lead handy!
- If at any time your Basenji gets overexcited, change the game to something calmer so that he doesn’t become too aggressive.
Basenjis are active breeds.
So you are going to need to make sure this matches your lifestyle, and you have the time available to be able to meet their needs.
And you are going to want to.
A Basenji not routinely walked and exercised is going to show.
Destructive behaviors and weight gain are the two most common and obvious repercussions.
But if you are an active individual, couple, or family who loves a good walk or hike; this could be the perfect breed for you.
Besides, they are a fantastic convenient size too!
Just consider they cannot be left alone for too long either.
So you need to ensure you can commit to this dog should you proceed to get one!
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.