Advice needed

Can anyone offer any suggestions on helping reduce Malaika's startled behaviour.
A bit of background info, Malaika is 17 months old and a very sweet natured girl.
We have a Basenji pup, Kwame who is 18 weeks old (male)
Soon after Kwame arrived Malaika has displayed quite an extreme startle when disturbed on the settee or bed. We do realise that a lot of Basenjis are not good if woken suddenly and experienced this with our first Basenji boy.
However this behaviour is relatively new and mostly not directed towards Kwame.
A typical scenario is myself lying on the settee and perhaps Malaika is lying at the other side, if i move my feet slightly she has started to growl and lunge towards them, sometimes she is dozing but other times not. She has also done it when Jerry the cat jumps up too.
We react by telling her Off !, and making her get down ??
She gets on well with Kwame and enjoys playing with him but the two of them do vie for our attention, especialy wanting to sit on our knees.

Bump, anyone any ideas please ?

Have you spoken to Malaika's breeder for any hints on why this might be happening? Did she act like this with her breeder when her breeder was giving her attention with other dogs around?

Hi Fran,
thanks for your reply.
No she didn't behave like this at the breeders, but of course she was much younger then.
This is recent behaviour. Other than these outbursts she is a lovely natured girl. The way she looks at my feet is as if she wants to kill them, and no i don't have smelly feet ,lol

How long has Kwame been with you? Has Malaika's startle behavior lessened, worsened, or stayed the same since then? If Malaika's startle behavior is lessening, my thoughts: You brought a new member into the pack, Malaika is on high alert, trying to determine whether Kwame is somedog that should be accepted into her pack. Her reactions to others is due to her hyper-alertness. She's starting to accept Kwame and the behavior will become less and less, and, hopefully, disappear completely.

If that's not the case, I'm sorry, I'm at a loss as to what's going on.

As Malaika has only started to display this behaviour since you got Kwame it seems it must originate with his acquisition. It coud be coincidence of course. My guess (and it's only that) is that she's becoming mature and going through a teeenagy stage of trying it on. I think you are right in making her get off but when she does so make a lot of fuss of her. Allow her back and repeat until she stops. If it does originate with Kwame it could be a case of jealousy. The fact that she reacts to movement of your feet is probably because she thinks that Kwame is jumping up - remember that a dog cannot focus on an object very close to their muzzles.

I must say that I sometimes have these jealousy problems with some of mine - they want the prime position next to me and grumble at another who wants the same - I just say no loudly and use the water spray. (I don't have to use water nowadays - I just pick up or tap the spray bottle.)

gbroxon, thanks for your imput. The behaviour has only started since we got Kwame. She appears to like him lots but as you say she still needs to work out if she should accept him. Fingers crossed the behaviour decreases while i still have some feet 😉

Helena, thanks for your reassurances that we're doing the right thing with her. I do think they are both a bit jealous of each other. Thanks for the reminder about Dogs not focusing on objects close to their muzzles, she probably does think it's him.
Your mention of the spray bottle made me smile, we don't need to actualy spray Malaika now, it's enough to show her the bottle.

Yes, the b's learn quickly that the bottle means trouble for them.

She may be displacing her frustration relating to Kwame, and showing her it is not acceptable seems the correct thing.
She is probably more on edge all the time, less sure of her position, and not able to relax, therefore, like a 'caffiene buzz', she startles more acutely.

Incorporating a new family member is stressful, even when they really like each other!

With rescue dogs, we make walking them together a big deal..several times a day. Letting them sniff the "leavings" of the other, and just getting them out together and moving.
It might help.

This is not a startle reflex - this is the beginnings of dominance behavior IMO. Startle reflex would be jumping back and screaming as though scared or running for dear life, not growling and attacking as though pissed someone is trying invade their territory.

Get them both off the couch or any chosen spot, only allow on if they sit nice and ask; start incorporating Nothing in Life is Free type deference exercises, try and find Karen Overall Deference exercises and relaxation protocols, etc. I am sure there is a ton of this type of info somewhere in these forums but I do not have the time to research it for you.

While the telling her off is an okay option - that does kind of reinforce her attitude that boy basenji or cat jumping on = negative things for her - having to move and give up her spot. You could always feed her small treats quickly anytime either boy or cat start to come over but BEFORE she starts to growl so she learns boy or cat = food for me - soon she will be like "come here boy or cat, I'm hungry"

Sorry if it seems choppy/disjointed - in a hurry but wanted to reply.

@MacPack:

She may be displacing her frustration relating to Kwame, and showing her it is not acceptable seems the correct thing.
She is probably more on edge all the time, less sure of her position, and not able to relax, therefore, like a 'caffiene buzz', she startles more acutely.

Incorporating a new family member is stressful, even when they really like each other!

Thanks for your input, she certainly does seem on edge some of the time.

Linda, thanks for your input, i have found some Karen Overall articles and will read them.
Still not sure whether it's dominance behaviour or not, it certainly crossed my mind.
She certainly does look quite startled before she kicks off and i would describe her as jumpy.
She only reacts like this when dozing, although not always properly asleep.

@sharronhurlbut:

With rescue dogs, we make walking them together a big deal..several times a day. Letting them sniff the "leavings" of the other, and just getting them out together and moving.
It might help.

Sharron, thanks. Yes we do walk them together as well as seperately.
They do seem to get on well but i don't think they have sorted out who is the dominant one. I can't say at this point either.
When play fighting he certainly makes lots of noise, whilst she is silent. He looks to be in charge sometimes, however if she silently draws her lips back and stares at him he backs off or lets her clean in his mouth/ eyes etc.
If Kwame wants to sleep, she is a terrible torment and pokes and prods him, he gets very whipped up and goes for her but it's like water of a Ducks back.

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