Can't seem to get it right
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    Okay so Basil is now apparently (who knows for sure) 15 weeks old. He is completely house trained (hasn't had an accident in weeks) and is learning sit and down. He comes when he's called (most of the time) and is walking nicely on a leash. Even his "puppy fits" have drastically reduced. The only huge problem that hasn't changed a bit is his biting and scratching. He constantly tries to bite my hands instead of the toy that I give him and if we're playing he'll purposely try to bite them. If I'm playing or walking around he'll bite at my pants or legs or jump up and "grab" my legs, scratching them. I've tried the close the mouth technique, the yelp, the walk away and even the bite his ear when he bites me really hard. Nothing seems to do anything except make him want to bite me more. I don't let him bite me and never do anything… i always react somehow but that seems to encourage his biting. I've tried to counter this by not doing anything and walking away, ending the play time but as soon as I come back... he tries biting again. I don't know what I'm doing wrong... and if I'm not doing anything wrong... how long will this last for? I'd rather have a dog that pees all over the house than have one that bites... nobody wants to be around him :( It's also not even that he's mouthing... he bites really hard and has broken the skin many times... even his scratches break the skin... I don't know what to do. I want him to be a lovable, social puppy. Also, when I give him food in a bowl (which is usually one meal a day) I try to take it away and replace it with a treat which he's been fine with me doing until a few days ago... now he's starting to growl at which point he doesn't get a treat and I say no, take his food and walk away and try again... Is this a bad sign? Why is he doing this now when he's been fine with it before?

    And yes, he starts puppy socialization classes August 21st (the earliest class I could get)... but I don't want him to be the worst behaved of the group :(

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    Good for you to get him into the class. When you walk in, don't think about best and worst behaved. Think about where your dog starts in the class and where he ends up.
    That is what its all about. Not a test with other dogs, its a test to see if you and your b have moved forward…and how much! good for you!. Oh did you put bitter apple on your hands and "still" have him bite you?

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    @sharronhurlbut:

    Good for you to get him into the class. When you walk in, don't think about best and worst behaved. Think about where your dog starts in the class and where he ends up.
    That is what its all about. Not a test with other dogs, its a test to see if you and your b have moved forward…and how much! good for you!. Oh did you put bitter apple on your hands and "still" have him bite you?

    I haven't tried it… I looked and at the pet store it was like $20 for a small bottle... does it really work?

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  • yeah the stuff works good for chewing and licking

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  • IMO you might be better served with a private behavorist along with class. Your pup has certainly decided that he needs to be top dog. A behavorist will be able to evalute your pup and your interaction and suggest ways to curb behavior. This is a critial time and again IMO would be money will spent

    And I will add, I have never had any luck with bitter apple spray regardless on how it was used. And this is with over 10 Basenjis, give or take

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  • Without seeing your interaction it's hard to pinpoint what is wrong, but it seems clear he is not understanding your "no biting" message for some reason. Also, if the behavior is persisting it is likely it is being reinforced in some way. Have you tried simply restraining him when he bites and only releasing him when he is quiet?

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    @eeeefarm:

    Without seeing your interaction it's hard to pinpoint what is wrong, but it seems clear he is not understanding your "no biting" message for some reason. Also, if the behavior is persisting it is likely it is being reinforced in some way. Have you tried simply restraining him when he bites and only releasing him when he is quiet?

    I usually do that when he is growling while trying to bite my hands or legs… usually I use the leash if he's on one or I do the hold to my chest technique until he calms down.

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    I have had success with Bitter apple spray, but as you see above others have not.

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    I have not found physical control to work. To me, it causes more issues.
    When he bites you, you yelp, in a high pitched tone and walk away.
    Do it until it works. It does work…good luck

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    Basil does sound like a rambunctious fellow.

    I agree with Pat, if you can get a good behaviorist now, before starting puppy socialization class, it can do a world of good for Basil and for your relationship with him.

    Have you tried the very loud ouch, yelp, whatever, and standing stock still, no eye contact, no leaving the room, no nothing other than the yelp to see what he will do? It could be that it is too much for him to contain himself when you return, and he nips again in excitement because you are back.

    It will take a lot of repetitions where he receives absolutely no reinforcement of any kind whatsoever to extinguish this behavior, which is why having a good behaviorist consult now is a great idea.

    I've had mixed results with Bitter Apple, but in the whole, it has helped most of my dogs with keeping their mouths off of inappropriate objects.

    It may/may not help with this situation, but if may be worth a try. :)

    Katy Scott

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    @Katheris:

    Basil does sound like a rambunctious fellow.

    I agree with Pat, if you can get a good behaviorist now, before starting puppy socialization class, it can do a world of good for Basil and for your relationship with him.

    Have you tried the very loud ouch, yelp, whatever, and standing stock still, no eye contact, no leaving the room, no nothing other than the yelp to see what he will do? It could be that it is too much for him to contain himself when you return, and he nips again in excitement because you are back.

    It will take a lot of repetitions where he receives absolutely no reinforcement of any kind whatsoever to extinguish this behavior, which is why having a good behaviorist consult now is a great idea.

    I've had mixed results with Bitter Apple, but in the whole, it has helped most of my dogs with keeping their mouths off of inappropriate objects.

    It may/may not help with this situation, but if may be worth a try. :)

    Katy Scott

    Thank you for your suggestions… I'll try it... tonight on our walk he got so excited with the cars going by that he bit my leg harder than ever and now it's bruising a bit... I really hope I can find a solution... he's such a smart, loving little guy otherwise :(

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  • Perhaps you could try training an incompatible behavior. You need to observe him closely so that you can anticipate what triggers the biting (it sounds to me like he is trying to play with you and doesn't know it's inappropriate). When you think he is about to bite, cue the behavior you want to replace it. Since he knows sit, that might work, but may I suggest something involving his mouth?

    Rather than hand him a toy as a substitute for your hand or leg, train him to "pick it up". That way he gets to put something in his mouth himself, and be praised for it. (does he like food rewards? Find something particularly salient when you start the training so he will want to work for that instead of biting you, which is obviously quite salient too!)

    Incidentally, "pick it up" is one of the more useful things you can train a dog. It also leads you to that which most people don't expect…...a retrieving Basenji. This is easiest clicker trained, and it is also a lot of fun. Here's how to proceed. Have an object on the floor. If can be anything that is easy for him to put in his mouth......but not something too small. Clicker train any approach to the object, gradually requiring closer. Soon he will get his mouth near the object. Eventually (often sooner than you think) he will sniff the object, touch it, and finally the mouth will open and he will pick it up, at which point, jackpot!

    Once you have a consistent picking up of the object, you can put it on cue (say "pick it up" as he does it) Once he is solid on the command you can proceed to having him give you the object. You can move on to a retrieve by placing the object further away, eventually out of the room, etc.

    The real gem in all this is it leads to identification of objects and retrieving the thing you want by name, but that is a subject for another time. In the short run, you want to replace the behaviour you don't want by one that will hopefully be pleasing to you and him, and distract him from biting. Make sure you have a suitable toy handy for him to pick up, and when signs of biting appear, try to redirect his energy to picking up the object, giving you a chance to praise that action while dissuading the other. Worth a try!

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  • @basilboy7:

    tonight on our walk he got so excited with the cars going by that he bit my leg harder than ever and now it's bruising a bit… I really hope I can find a solution... he's such a smart, loving little guy otherwise :(

    Ouch! I saw this after my last post. You need to get on top of this while walking. Can you not dissuade him with the leash by holding him away from you, or do you not see it coming? I have had Basenjis that would attack each other when they couldn't get at what they really wanted…....usually another dog that was barking at them.....and this looks very much like that. Transferred aggression. He likely wants to chase the car. In the short term, I think I would invest in a muzzle. No fun getting bitten when you are just trying to walk your dog!

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    @eeeefarm:

    Ouch! I saw this after my last post. You need to get on top of this while walking. Can you not dissuade him with the leash by holding him away from you, or do you not see it coming? I have had Basenjis that would attack each other when they couldn't get at what they really wanted…....usually another dog that was barking at them.....and this looks very much like that. Transferred aggression. He likely wants to chase the car. In the short term, I think I would invest in a muzzle. No fun getting bitten when you are just trying to walk your dog!

    I didn't see it coming… he's so inconsistent... sometimes cars will pass and he won't even lift his nose from the ground and his step won't even change. Other times he acts as if he's going to take off. He was calm and then bolted, catching himself on the leash... sometimes this happens then I stand still and say heel and he either sits or comes back to me and gets a "good boy" so as I was doing that.. he ran back to me and around me.. I guess he saw that he wanted to bolt again but knew he could so he bit the back of my leg... hardest bite so far. I'll try the toy thing but sometimes when he bites hard it feels like it's intentional... and i'm not sure he can be distracted but i'll try it. Thanks for the advice.

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  • @basilboy7:

    I didn't see it coming… he's so inconsistent... sometimes cars will pass and he won't even lift his nose from the ground and his step won't even change. Other times he acts as if he's going to take off.

    My currant Basenji is reactive to cars…....I think he wants to chase them. And as you say, not every car. Usually with him it's one that is unusually noisy or somehow sounds a bit different. If I am not alert, he will twirl around when they go by......just a quick "spin in place", which I try to discourage. If there aren't many cars, you could try asking him to sit when one approaches, but obviously if you are on a busy road you won't get much walking done with this approach.

    I think your little guy does need some outside help. From what you are describing, you need to get a handle on it before he gets much older. Sorry I can't be of more assistance, but without actually seeing you guys interact it is difficult to give advice. :)

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  • Again, I am going to suggest a behavorist ASAP to assist. You are having far too many problems with this pup and I would fear it will only get worse if you don't get some help very quickly

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    I agree with Pat. It seems to me that you've got into a position with Basil that's become too repetitive and it needs an outside onlooker to see what is not going right. Your reactions need to be consistent - it's no good trying one thing -doesn't work - try another.

    Having said that the behaviourist should be somebody, hopefully, experienced with Basenjis. Force won't work with a Basenji.

    Please keep us posted.

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    @krunzer:

    yeah the stuff works good for chewing and licking

    I had a German Shepard that LOVED that stuff, I seem to go from one crazy dog to the next! :eek:

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  • just reading your posts about Basil. Sharron mentions doing a high pitched yelp when he bites, be careful about the pitch you use. I did this when Malaika bit me in play and i found it triggered her prey drive or something and she came back at me twice as bad.
    Do you think he's biting your leg whilst out because he is so excited by the traffic ?
    Again with Malaika, when she was a pup and still occassionaly she will start to be silly whilst walking on her lead and begin biteing it, if i don't stop it straight away she becomes over excited and will bite my leg causing a bruise.
    Both our Basenjis are very interested in traffic, it's as if they see it as prey. They particularly like tractors, motorbikes and tankers. I try jerking the lead a little when they lunge and say "Leave it"
    I wish you the best with your boy and hope you find a good behaviourist.

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    @thunderbird8588:

    just reading your posts about Basil. Sharron mentions doing a high pitched yelp when he bites, be careful about the pitch you use. I did this when Malaika bit me in play and i found it triggered her prey drive or something and she came back at me twice as bad.
    Do you think he's biting your leg whilst out because he is so excited by the traffic ?
    Again with Malaika, when she was a pup and still occassionaly she will start to be silly whilst walking on her lead and begin biteing it, if i don't stop it straight away she becomes over excited and will bite my leg causing a bruise.
    Both our Basenjis are very interested in traffic, it's as if they see it as prey. They particularly like tractors, motorbikes and tankers. I try jerking the lead a little when they lunge and say "Leave it"
    I wish you the best with your boy and hope you find a good behaviourist.

    Thank you for your comment. Now I do not yelp because as you said… it made him bite more. Now I hold his mouth closed until he calms down and say "no" in a stern, low voice. This seems to make him understand. On walks he does get excited by cars sometimes... other times he won't even look up. He gets excited when he sees people and other dogs as well... and even garbage and things on the ground that he can't get to... anything he wants and I prevent him from getting to. I don't know how to get him distracted from things like that because it's like he's obsessed over. Sometimes I can say "leave it" to a car coming and he won't look but as far as people, garbage and dogs... he hears nothing.

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  • @basilboy7:

    Thank you for your comment. Now I do not yelp because as you said… it made him bite more. Now I hold his mouth closed until he calms down and say "no" in a stern, low voice. This seems to make him understand. On walks he does get excited by cars sometimes... other times he won't even look up. He gets excited when he sees people and other dogs as well... and even garbage and things on the ground that he can't get to... anything he wants and I prevent him from getting to. I don't know how to get him distracted from things like that because it's like he's obsessed over. Sometimes I can say "leave it" to a car coming and he won't look but as far as people, garbage and dogs... he hears nothing.

    Holding his mouth closed is not a good option… we have all recommended that you get a behavorist to help you... you need to be serious about that and do so or you will be in for big trouble as he gets older.

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