Basenji-tank is aggresssively biting children, Please help!!

  • We have a 2.5 year old B- Tank. We also have a 7.5 year old son. Tank is great with our son, very loving. He is great with family and freinds that he has known since he was a puppy. However, within the past couple of months he has starting acting out very aggressively. He has bite a few adults now, some of which he has met on several occasions before. Our biggest concern is that he has started going after our sons friends, growling and snarling and trying to bite them. He has even bite one of his freinds on the arm and just broke skin ( not very serious bite) but it was in an aggressive manner that we have never seem from him before. We love our B very much but are so afraid that he will go after someone and we will be forced to take drastic measures. What can we do??

  • Where in IL are you?
    There are some great trainers and behaviorists in IL and WI.

    I am in Chicago, and am willing to do anything I can to help too.

    For now, condition him to wear a muzzle so that your son's friends can be safe in your house.


  • Thank you for the reply and the offer to help. I live about 45 mins south of Chicago. Safety is my first concern and priority, but a mussle seems so sad to do to him in his own home. This is such an emotional thing to deal with. 😞

  • Having your dog conditioned to wear a basket muzzle is a good thing. They can still drink and pant, just helps keep them from biting. Your stress will go down, which will help his stress go down.

    Laura Monaco Torelli, in the South Loop is a fabulous trainer and behaviorist. Janice Triptow is another in IL who would probably travel to you.
    Narnia Pet Behavior in Plainfield IL is a great resource, and lastly Advances in Animal Behavior in Chicago Ridge is really great and has a "Company is Coming" class that helps your dog learn control when company comes over.

    I hope some of this helps.


  • Thank you so much Nicole. You have been so helpful. I really appreciate it. We are going to look into that muzzle. I do need some peace of mind and to decompress over this. It sure is tough to be in love with your pet who decides to get cranky!!

  • … he might not have decided to be cranky, he might have a thyroid problem. I think many will recommend he have a full blood test done for abnormalities

  • Thanks. He wasnt test for that, but the vet did not believe that he has a thyroid problem.

  • The majority of my rescue Bs that have been aggressive have had thyroid problems. The young ones did not have any skin/coat problems. You need to have a complete thyroid test not just a t4.

    Any time I have a rescue B that is aggressive especially toward people which is far and few between, I have a thyroid test done at MSU which my vet sends and an eye exam usually just a CERF exam unless I notice something which requires a full eye exam.

    Do you know if his relatives-sire, dam, littermates, have thyroid problems or aggression issues? I would contact the breeder to find out.


  • Since this is a recent problem, I would agree that one of the first things you should do is to have a complete thyroid panel done (The Thyroid Antibody Panel is comprised of T4, Free T4, T3, Free T3 and TGAA). If your vet isn't equipped to do this complete panel, the blood can be sent to Dr. Jean Dodds at Hemopet,

    Thyroid problems should be ruled out before spending money on a trainer…no training will do any good if the dog is acting out because of thyroid problems.

  • I would go further and say a good overall exam because it is not just thyroid problems that can cause behavior issues. Any pain or feeling ill could cause a change in behavior.

    I also would not recommend muzzling Tank and instead recommend creating a space for him to be confined where he can be given an excellent treat like a stuffed Kong or special chewy, something time consuming and rewarding that he can work on while people are over.

  • If he is not neutered, do so. That way if the problem is some bitch in heat locally, will help reduce that stimulus.

    I also do not agree on a muzzle as a general thing. Crate the dog, period, when company is over while you deal with this.

    The full thyroid can be sent to many labs:

    Without wishing to start a war, I know too many people that Dodds found their dogs to have thyroid issues that when sent to other labs did not.

    Have things changed in your home, such as routine changes, jobs, people moving in or out, etc? Do you do obedience with this dog? Have you worked on a Nothing in Life is free program?

    Please, get the dog into a crate, get a full exam and thryoid panel, and then start working on the behaviors. To find good trainers who use positive methods of training, try this link:

  • Always, where children are concerned, use double guards. Our Petey, who is aggressive toward strangers, used to be either in the crate with his muzzle on, or in the crate behind a locked door. The double guards assure no mistakes will be made and he will not be able to practice the bad behavior while you rule out medical issues and re-train him.

    Petey has become so accustomed to his basket muzzle that he visibly relaxes when it is put on. He knows he no longer has to be on guard, and it relaxes us, so it helps him relax.

    Kids don't listen, so we learned the hard way that in the crate alone was not sufficient. We had someone open Petey's crate despite Petey's warning growls and receive a bad bite on the hand. We also had a child open the crate while he had a muzzle on and receive a muzzle punch to the face. Without the muzzle that would have been a facial bite.

    Between Dr. John Cirribassi and Laura Monaco Torelli, we have gotten Petey to the point that he can be in a separate room, behind an x-pen, receiving treats for looking at the strangers, and can come out and socialize once everyone is settled down.

    Hope this helps,


  • Our female Basenji was great with kids for the first year of two. Now she is great with OUR kids and with those few who she deems part of her pack – the kids she has known well since she was a puppy.
    Generally speaking, however, she does not like kids and doesn't really seem to like when adults visit. {She does have Fanconi, and often just doesn't feel spectacular. I imagine it's for them as it is for us -- family is one thing, but when you aren't feeling 100%, you really don't want a bunch of strangers over.}
    We crate her when we have guests that she doesn't know well -- for their sake, and for her comfort. Our crate is next to the dining/living area, so she is not isolated --she can see and be seen -- but she seems to prefer to know that she'll be left alone/not bothered by guests. When people who are relative strangers to her come over, we just tell her, 'go to bed', and she runs right in, waits for her bite of chicken, and goes to sleep.

    If they have kids who don't listen to our "let the dog sleep" warnings, I put up a baby gate to further block their access to her.....though I will also tell the parents that they need to watch supervise their child or I will :-)......

  • That was my first thought - a full medical check up. If I was in your boots I would do it right away. The aggresion could be thyroid based or could be because he might be in pain from something.

  • Have you had the vet look at your boy yet?

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