• First Basenji's

    Hi all. Our new girl Zenia, age 15 weeks is the grouchies girl and mean when she is startled or moved. For example - One weekend my husband and I were on a trip with the dogs. Faro loves to sleep under the covers but gets to hot so gets out in the night and moves to a cooler location. Zenia hates the covers and doesn't wander in the night much at all. Most of the time the dogs sleep in their crates. This night Faro got out and stepped too close to Zenia who immediately went on the attack. I must say she was ferocious. In another incident she did not want to be moved after a surgery and she actually bit my husband and I as we tried to move her into her crate.

    I know the surgery makes for a time that is not a realistic picture of her personality (some could say), but I think it may show us things to come if we do not get a handle on this now.

    We start obedience training next week and our trainer is very cognizant of Basenji behaviors and attitudes as she has taught Keith and I tons this past few months that we have been working with her and Faro.

    I would like your opinions on this matter. We knew she had a forceful personality before we got her. We really don't have any other problems with her. She began sitting on command for us one day after her arrival to our home and responds well to affection for training as well as for food. She is even more of a love bug than out boy Faro. We just want to be careful to keep this good temperament and attitude.

    Sorry this is so long and thanks in advance for your help.


  • I've read that many basenjis do not like to be startled when they are sleeping. But, I am wondering if Zenia is also trying to establish and make a higher position for herself in your pack?

    If you do a search on the forum and use the word 'biting', there are a number of threads.

    Here is a link to the page (threads) that came up when I searched on biting. She is young, but you might also want to have her thyroid checked.


  • Gerri, sorry to hear you are having a few problems with Zenia and you are right to want to nip it in the bud now.
    It is a well known fact that Basenjis overreact when woken, some are worse than others.
    It is far better if possible to make sure they are awake and tell them to move rather than touching them, for instance if you need them off the furniture.
    Very occasionaly Malaika has snarked and snapped at me when i have moved near her on the settee, this results in me telling her to get down immediately.
    Our new pup is 12 weeks old, a male and quite feisty. He tends to realy growl at Malaika when he's tired and she is bugging him. They also on occasions both snarl at each other if one is comfy and the other one gets too close. They do sound fearsome but i try to let them get on with it as much as possible. What i won't tolerate is them doing it to me.
    I'm sure you will find lots of advice on here

  • The best advice I got here is that whenever she gets snarky with you, she gets pushed off the settee, or bed, or wherever she is, and if it's when she is awake, all play stops to let her know this is not an acceptable behavior. Someone posted that the furniture is people domain, and if she is going to be allowed to share and be close, growling and snapping will never get her near her people.

  • I don't agree that it is "well known that basenjis react"… some do, some don't, in all breeds.

    I truly would move her to sleeping in a crate if she is bed guarding. If it really is just being startled, you can work to recondition it by having yummy treats and waking her OFTEN treat in hand. Even dog brains that startle can be retrained to wake more pleasant. I don't remember where you got your dog, but if the breeder is around, please discuss this as that kind of behavior in a 15 wk old dog is a bit disconcerting.

  • I would do this several times a day. When you dog is asleep, call her and have a small piece of cheese in your hands.
    When she gets up and she sits, you give it to her.
    You will teach her to awake when you call and that she will get good things.
    Do this during the day, and it should help you.

  • Can you give a little refresher about your new girl? Why did she have surgery? Is she from a breeder or a rescue?

    If she is from a breeder, have you contacted the breeder? What did they tell you about how she acted in their house?

    I agree that you will need to work on building positive associations with being woken and being handled. If she is food motivated, pair the handling with food. Help her get used to being touched when she is drowsy and drifting off.

  • My b's sit on the couch with me and I touch them all over..feet, face, when they are awake and when they are sleeping.
    They have learned that touching is only good feeling, never bad..

  • I agree about the touching. Ayo got a little defensive ONCE, resource guarding some rawhide and I just would not accept it. Of course he was a small puppy so it was easier but I basically took it away and gave it back when he was calm, always telling him sit and down etc … And took it again and so forth. And I am constantly touching him everywhere, awake or asleep, al the time.. If you do that they get used to it.. It has been my experience, and Ayo is very dominant personality , he is still a little nippy when he gets excited , we are working on that, but never angry, and he let's anyone, and I mean anyone, strangers, children anyone, pet him, carry him everything...

  • First Basenji's

    First I apologize for not getting back with you all sooner. I teach high school and Prom arrived with all the extra work as well as family who stayed for over a week. I have had time to read but not respond. the suggestions are all great and thanks. I will post later on today to let you know what we have done as well as how it is going so far. Our first obedience class for her starts Thursday so we will have that resource as well. Thanks for all the advice even with out my input. Talk to you more about it later.

  • First Basenji's

    Ok, first some refresher on Zenia as asked. She is from a friend who has two basenjis and had an accidental breeding. She was very excited that we wanted Zenia as we were already around basenjis and had some experience. Zenia is actually more even tempered about being touched and picked up than our other dog Faro. She gets serious about chew bones and Faro seems to like to tease to the point of anger and that is all we had seen of it until the trip and the surgery. She got just as upset at being stepped on as she had at Faro's teasing with the bones.

    We normally don't let it get past the teasing point. If she starts to get serious about fighting for the bones we take them from the both of them and no one gets to chew the rawhide then.

    Faro always sleeps in his crate at night and so does Zenia. It is a special treat for them to sleep with us. Zenia was on the bed being cuddled after the surgery and we would have stayed that way if we hadn't has unexpected company that I had to get up for and we were afraid to leave her on the bed as she would likely just follow me, including jumping from the bed.

    Zenia had an umbilical hernia and out vet wanted us to fix it. So the surgery was simple and she really had not shaken off the medication when the biting incident occurred. the only other time she is forceful like that is with my husband. If she is already angry at Faro and he will pick her up from behind to separate them.

    We have been doing the touching at all times activity and I am going to work on the waking activity that has been suggested. We will also be talking with our trainer as well.
    We have not had any other incidents so far. We also stop play for snarky behavior and she does know sitting sweetly gets her loving attention, praise and treats. Once again she is even better than Faro at this. Thanks for the help.

  • So, I am confused? Did you have her spayed along with the umbilical repair? You know that unless there was a problem with the hernia, they 99% of the time never cause a problem and 90% of Basenji have them, in various sizes? Usually when bitches are spayed, they will have them repaired at that time. If the surgery was just for the hernia and there was no problem with it, it would have been unnecessary. Vet that are not familar with the breed do not know that umbilcal herinas are very, very common in this breed.

    Seems beyond that you have a resource guarding problem. And I would never give them bones/chews unless both are in their crates. While you say, you don't let it get past the "teasing stage", it is the teasing stage that is starting the problem and this IMO will just esclate.

    And when she is sleeping, you need to make sure that you "talk" her awake before moving/touching her.

  • And when she is sleeping, you need to make sure that you "talk" her awake before moving/touching her.

    Our tri has similar issues (surprise). We find the above really works well. It's surprising how telling your dog what is going top happen next in a gentle tone makes them very co-operative or at least in getting non aggressive responses. No one wants to be awoken harsh. Also I find the dogs listen really well when you whisper to them vs yelling / loud.

    "Let a sleeping dog lay" is a proverb with a purpose

  • I totally agree about the talking awake and am always surprised that people don't do this, as naturally a dog is more vulnerable when asleep and will be alert to perceived 'danger' if disturbed without warning.

  • First Basenji's

    You all are amazing. Thanks for the ideas. Zenia is doing better. I have purchased a book about resource guarding as well and find that is really her problem. The book is entitled Mine!A practical guide to resource guarding in dogs. I have not read it all but will report on the other advice it gives. Thanks again. The talking awake, waking with treats, only giving the rawhides in the crates, all have been great so far. Thanks for all the advice.

  • Houston

    My girl athena is like that very grumpy when our boy moves or settles around her while napping, growling n showing teeth n little nips… but never towards us, By the way i was never a big fan of the brindle pups but yours is perfect, faro is the cutest lil guy ever

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