Attacks when he doesn't get what he wants
  • 0
  • B

    So this morning I was getting ready for work and had Basil in the kitchen with me playing around with my older dog. I guess I wasn't thinking (half asleep) and was carrying my tea bag by the tag when he jumped up and got it. My reaction was "no!" and got down to him to take it away. I tried to pry his mouth open to get it back… then he clamped down on my hand and basically did a good number on it. I've never seen him so vicious... it was like watching a wild animal tear apart his prey. I have two puncture wounds on one finger, one large gash and several smaller gashes on my thumb and pointer finger. I called the vet at lunch time to see if there was any advice they could give me. The girl asked some questions like if I'm taking away food and toys with any problems... I said no, I can lift up his dish and he's growled once or twice, in which case he doesn't get it back for awhile and with toys he doesn't care.. he's never bitten me. I explained that on walks he will bite me if I don't let him see a person, dog or something like dog poo or garbage. So it must be things that he knows aren't his or are "bad" or "no's" to go and get. So she suggested that I leave more things around that he likes to get into of mine like underwear, tea bags... whatever and take them away from him. If he bites me, she said to put him in his kennel, no eye contact, no talking for a few minutes. Although I don't think she understands how this event unfolded. He did not just bite me once like he does when he's playing... he literally attacked my hand like he was a wild dog and I'm honestly afraid to go through that again... especially purposely. Any suggestions?

  • 0
  • Honestly it sounds like a consult with a behaviorist is in order. Two things stand out to me. 1. his behavior seems to be escalating (based soley on what you've said here). 2. this sounds like over the top behavior for such a young dog.
    Someone who is there watching the two of you may see something that you are missing.

    In the meantime, here is some suggested reading:
    http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/RG.html

  • 0
  • @agilebasenji:

    Honestly it sounds like a consult with a behaviorist is in order. Two things stand out to me. 1. his behavior seems to be escalating (based soley on what you've said here). 2. this sounds like over the top behavior for such a young dog.
    Someone who is there watching the two of you may see something that you are missing.

    In the meantime, here is some suggested reading:
    http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/RG.html

    I agree… I think we have said this before.... and I agree that this behavior for such a young pup is a real concern

  • 0
  • B

    @tanza:

    I agree… I think we have said this before.... and I agree that this behavior for such a young pup is a real concern

    how do i find a behaviorist?

  • 0
  • It will take some work but it sounds like he has a very dominant personality. My boy is food agressive so I work with him. First thing is to take a chewy stick or something of high value and make him eat it out of your hand while taking it away from him then letting him have some etc. Once you get ok with that stage, put it down but leave your hand on it, next step is to take your hand off it but keep it very close too, then after a few mins put your hand back on it and take it away. Keep at it and it will help a lot.

  • 0
  • PLEASE find someone locally to help you, and someone that understands basenji behavior- while I find the Cesar Milan/Dog Whisperer show entertaining, you'll notice that he's never had a basenji on his show? :confused:

    My sister adopted a basenji from a local shelter, and no one from the shelter told her that he was sensitive to having pressure applied near his butt to sit down. Well, as she was driving, he was blocking her vision and she tried to have him sit down. He attacked her hand, and as she described it- he went "Cujo"… he did not respond to her escalating voice, nor to her hitting him out of self defense....

    She called me in tears, outside of the Emergency Room, and told me what happened- as well as the fact that the basenji was very diligently licking her hand, almost as if he was apologizing and trying to make it better. She had to wait for the shelter person to come get him... and when he put him into the back of the paddy wagon, the man said, "yeah, I'm surprised they let him go so soon"...

    My heartbroken sister met the ER doctor, who counted the 16 deep bite wounds in her hand (she did not stitch them, as that would trap the bacteria within the wound- you want to use neosporin and let it breathe…. ).

    My heartbroken sister was truly heartbroken when she discovered that this young basenji that she was trying to save was actually put down the next day because he was "aggressive".... she still thinks of everything that she should have done different...

    PLEASE. For Basil's sake…. PLEASE find someone local that will understand his behavior and will help you correct it.

    Hugs and roos to you!

  • 0
  • I agree time to get a good behaviorist to help…

    ...what the person at the vet's office told you is silly, as a crate should never be used as a part of punishment.

    Have you done object exchanges with Basil?

  • 0
  • @Patty:

    My heartbroken sister was truly heartbroken when she discovered that this young basenji that she was trying to save was actually put down the next day because he was "aggressive"…. she still thinks of everything that she should have done different...

    I remember that story. How sad that your sister still dwells on it. I really can't imagine what else could have been done. Thankfully (?) it was your sister's hand and not a child's face. Has your sister found another pup? She sounds like such a wonderful, loving owner for some poor pup. I hope she can find peace and know there wasn't much of another option.

    And your post made me think of dogs lacking inhibitions. For Basil, more homework:
    http://www.dogscouts.org/Protocol_for_relaxation.html

    also i'd get a copy of Control Unleashed. I think it is one of the best books for understanding thresh holds of behaviors in dogs. While the neither the CU book or the relaxation protocol may not seem like your immediate problem, I truely believe teaching B self-control is a key to him having a long happy life. It sounds like Basil may just go through a lot of life over threshold. (Again just speculation with him in Canada and me in colorado) With the CU book, pay attention to what the author says about thresh holds, the off switch game (start VERY slowly with this dog), go to mat. (that's just off the top of my head. her story of Snap is also interesting and, i think, has some similiar issues to you and B)

    everything in both of my posts are non-confrontational ways of modifying your dog's behaviors and should be compatible with any sort of training regime a behaviorist gives you.

    I really think there is hope for you and B, but addressing these issues early is key.

    And on a barely related note, I have some beautiful black/purple basil growing in my sad little excuse for a garden.

  • 0
  • B

    Thank you for all your responses. I will look into the behaviorist and all of your homework. :) I do exchanges with Basil… I can take a toy away from him no problem, he is protective with treats that I give him such as dried papaya (his favourite) but I'll try the in hand suggestions. In the mornings is when he's fed from a bowl, I've been trying to take the bowl away which was no problem a few weeks ago but he's not growling at me. So this morning I had the idea to keep the bowl in my hand and take it away which really helped, no growling. I think he got the idea that it was my bowl. He was given a kibble and a "good boy"... as the morning meal is a rehydrated mix with sweet potato. His other meals I either hand feed (his kibble) or it's in his treat dispenser or thrown on the grass in the backyard. I also did the suggested exercise where I have his kibble in my hand and the hand opens when he backs away from it. He really loves this and will be quick to get the idea of it and will back away and sit nicely to get a kibble. I feel so bad, like I did something wrong... I'm really scared that he'll be a dog that gets put down. I hope I can clear this up now before it gets worse and it's somebody else's hand or face.

  • 0
  • Our dog has simliar issues if he gets something he knows he is not supposed to. He guards it with his life. With treats, toys & his food he is fine, but with something like pizza or highly valued food, the switch is flipped.

    I believe it is mostly do to our behavior as we freak out and I think he reacts to that, like if he finds a bone on his walk, you have to get it away he knows it.

    However, if we freak out over him having something non food & take it away he does not guard it.

  • 0
  • S

    Do let us know how this is going. Glad you found someone to help you with this issue.

  • 0
  • Have you continued to make the Its Yer Choice more challenging. It isn't just about backing away from your closed hand. Did you place the hand at or below nose level? Can he stand still with an open hand below nose level and wait for a treat? What value treats are you using? Are you using things like papaya which he highly values for the game or just kibble? Keep working and making it challenging so he has to make good choices.

    Keep making exchanges with him and for high value objects. This way if you have another incident like the tea bag you are more likely to not panic and go grab something like some dried papaya to exchange for the tea bag then creating a confrontation.

  • 0
  • I understand your anxiety. I had a rescue spaniel who had fear and resource issues. It is scary to struggle with something like this. Take heart my spaniel with patient training became an absolutely wonderful dog. We did lots of object exchanges and exercises to help him learn making the right decisions.

    You are doing the best for him by trying to get help and you are doing it early :)

    It is hard to stay calm in a situation when your dog has a hold of something you do not want him to have…just remember the anxiety and nerves translate to him so staying calm helps both of you.

    The behaviorist will help you learn the best ways to respond in Basil's case.

    Please let us know how things go as you continue!

  • 0
  • B

    @lvoss:

    Have you continued to make the Its Yer Choice more challenging. It isn't just about backing away from your closed hand. Did you place the hand at or below nose level? Can he stand still with an open hand below nose level and wait for a treat? What value treats are you using? Are you using things like papaya which he highly values for the game or just kibble? Keep working and making it challenging so he has to make good choices.

    Keep making exchanges with him and for high value objects. This way if you have another incident like the tea bag you are more likely to not panic and go grab something like some dried papaya to exchange for the tea bag then creating a confrontation.

    Currently I'm using kibble which is still challenging for him, it does take him a few tries to understand what he has to do. He doesn't just back up to get a treat, he backs up, sits down and waits. He will often look up at me and away from the kibble. Yes, I have the hand almost touching the ground. I will slowly use other kinds of high value treats… he does love his kibble too... his papaya he likes a little more though because he hardly gets it. Thank you for the advice.

  • 0
  • I definitely - extremely definitely no way no how - would not follow the gal's advice to leave stuff around to tempt him into misbehaving. He should not be getting opportunities to practice that behavior. In fact, I'd be looking to avoid him ever practicing it again.

    Teaching trade seems to be a top priority, yes.

    I have been mostly a lurker on a puppy training yahoo list for a couple years now, and I have learned a TON from it. It's run by an all positive methods trainer, and I think you might like it. I might not have the link completely correct, but try this: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/spt/

  • 0
  • @basilboy7:

    I can lift up his dish and he's growled once or twice, in which case he doesn't get it back for awhile and with toys he doesn't care.. he's never bitten me. I explained that on walks he will bite me if I don't let him see a person, dog or something like dog poo or garbage. So it must be things that he knows aren't his or are "bad" or "no's" to go and get. So she suggested that I leave more things around that he likes to get into of mine like underwear, tea bags… whatever and take them away from him. If he bites me, she said to put him in his kennel, no eye contact, no talking for a few minutes. Although I don't think she understands how this event unfolded. He did not just bite me once like he does when he's playing... he literally attacked my hand like he was a wild dog and I'm honestly afraid to go through that again... especially purposely. Any suggestions?

    I personally have a HUGE problem with the idea of removing a dog's meal after you have given it to him. This amounts to teasing, IMHO. I realize some people like to "train" the dog to give things up this way…..the rationale being that he will learn that he gets it back.....but I really can't agree it is a good way to desensitize guarding behavior. On the contrary, I think it makes it more likely.

    Setting him up with things he is likely to guard is also a fool's errand, IMO. Unless you are extremely sure of yourself and your timing, you are likely to end up rewarding the behavior you are trying to extinguish. I also do not advocate the practice of "trading" to recover things stolen. It is a good way to reinforce theft, apart from anything else. Basenjis are not stupid. If they know grabbing something they aren't supposed to have will gain them a treat, they are most certainly going to go for it!

    In my household, a dog who latches on to something that is off limits gets an immediate verbal response, "Is that yours??", followed by a removal of said object from his mouth. Period. I don't have time to p***yfoot around in the event the dog gets hold of something dangerous to himself, and if it costs me a nip in the process, so be it. (so far no dog of mine has had the temerity to attempt biting me in circumstances where he knows he is in the wrong, but I am not timid, or intimidated, and they have all clearly understood it is something I am not prepared to tolerate.)

    I realize I am tempting the flame throwers here, but sometimes you just have to say "no", and that is that.

    edited to add: I will use the "trade" concept to retrieve something that I have given the dog. In that case, it is "his", (as opposed to something he has stolen) and if I want it back it is only fair to replace it with something…..hopefully in his eyes of equal value. (I would do this with a bone that was getting dangerously small, for example)

  • 0
  • @eeeefarm:

    I personally have a HUGE problem with the idea of removing a dog's meal after you have given it to him. This amounts to teasing, IMHO. I realize some people like to "train" the dog to give things up this way…..the rationale being that he will learn that he gets it back.....but I really can't agree it is a good way to desensitize guarding behavior. On the contrary, I think it makes it more likely.

    It is NOT just taking their food away, it should be a Trade situation. You trade for the food, you don't just take it away and then put it back. You trade with something that is of higher value.

  • 0
  • I also clicker trained Zest to fetch. for a long time "blue bird" was on a leash (piece of string) which prevented Z from running off with blue bird. Z, being very food motivated, quickly learned that if she brought the toy to me, she got a treat and we could continue to play (and continue to get treats). She learned this lesson so well that she has been in clined to bring me all sorts of "treasures" like several 1/2 dead rabbits and one sort of plastic meat wrapper that blew into the yard.

  • 0
  • @tanza:

    It is NOT just taking their food away, it should be a Trade situation. You trade for the food, you don't just take it away and then put it back. You trade with something that is of higher value.

    Sure, but I am not getting the sense that this is what the OP is doing. (as I said in my edit, I do practice this with things I have given the dog if I decide I need to reclaim them). And I think unless you have an express purpose in mind, it is best to just let the dog eat his dinner in peace. I would get pretty grouchy if my server in a restaurant took away my salad and replaced it with a chocolate sundae, even if the latter might be "more salient". :)

  • 0
  • @agilebasenji:

    I also clicker trained Zest to fetch. for a long time "blue bird" was on a leash (piece of string) which prevented Z from running off with blue bird. Z, being very food motivated, quickly learned that if she brought the toy to me, she got a treat and we could continue to play (and continue to get treats). She learned this lesson so well that she has been in clined to bring me all sorts of "treasures" like several 1/2 dead rabbits and one sort of plastic meat wrapper that blew into the yard.

    I love clicker training for this purpose, but I like to start at the end and backward chain it to the retrieve. That way, the dog knows the purpose of the exercise is to give you the object. Also, it helps to begin with something they don't actually want to run away with. ;) (I teach "pick it up" as an action I can then apply to any named object. Works like a charm, and also is a great way to broaden your dog's vocabulary)

  • 34
    Posts
  • 7657
    Views
  • Log in to reply