Biting Issues

My basenji has biting issues. We get him chew toys, but he rips them to bits or just ignores them. We also get him rawhides, but he get mad if anyone comes near him when he has one. We got him a shock collar, which I hate, but he only stops biting for a few minutes. We tried Bitter No-Chew spray for the couches, but I think he actually likes it. He especially likes to pull my hair because it's long. Does anyone know what we should do? Please help!

How old is your B? B's like to rip their toys to shreds, I think that is bred into all of them! I would not feed rawhides (I actually got people at PetSmart this weekend to not buy them) and educated them on bully sticks and moo-tubes. Sounds like he is resource guarding and you may have to go back to hand feeding so he realizes that this is an unacceptable behaviour. I would not use the shock collar either, this is just going to train him that humans can use pain, which is not good. If he is a baby this may just be puppy behaviour and just make sure that he has A Lot to chew on to make sure he doesn't go after your couches, etc. Let us know how it is going.

Have you spoken to his breeder about is issues? And if he is getting mad when he has a chew stick (regardless of the kind) this is a big temperament issue and will only get worse unless you address it. You can search the forums for resource guarding (which is what he is doing) Same with biting your hair…. as far as shredding stuffed toys, pretty much a Basenjis thing.
The couch, you need to keep him away from it unless he is being watched... Shock collar is a poor choice for a training aid. Sounds like you might need a professional trainer/behavorist and soon.

He sounds like a typical BORED frustrated unstimulated basenji. Is he crated a lot, spend a lot of time by himself, does he get enough exercise? I don't give mine rawhides or pigs ears–they aren't healthy plus they seem to trigger that crazed maniacal mineMineMINE!!! attitude. And the shock collar is likely making things worse.

Before you push the panic button, get him a hobby like scent tracking, agility or lure coursing. Worked for my first destructive, snappish basenji...turns out I was the problem, not the dog.

Do you mean chewing or actually biting? As in biting people? Or just the furniture? I agree on the rawhides. Some dogs get obsessed with them, and in any case they are dangerous. IMO a shock collar should never be used by anyone who hasn't had training in how to use them correctly, and in the situation you are dealing with unless you are very skilled with it you will likely make things worse. Chewing up toys isn't unusual, but you need to help your dog understand what is his and what he should leave alone. And as is often stated, a tired Basenji is a good Basenji. 🙂

Also, just like with kids, consistency is key to teaching the dog appropriate behaviour.

My dogs never get rawhides. My boy Arnie who is 11 has never had one. They can chew on nylabones and things like that. I teach my dogs to share and if they do not share nicely, the bone/toy gets put up in the kitchen cabinet. They follow me and watch me put it in there. This usually happens when I bring home a new bone/toy. I can also take things out of their mouths. I use the words "drop it" and sometimes they do not always do it but I can open their mouths and get it out. This has included birds, squirrels, and rabbits and when I lived in Houston food that was dropped on the sidewalks or nearby.

How old is your boy? Have you contacted the breeder about his behavior? If he is older, has he had a complete thyroid test done. Do you know if any of his relatives have low thyroid or aggression issues?

Basenjis need a lot of exercise. I consider them big chewers. My older dogs will chew on things they are not supposed to like the sheets covering the couch and chair. My older girl likes the kitchen towel and will try her best to get at it. My dogs range in age from 5 to 13.

Jennifer

I personally don't use the shock on the shock collar, I just use the good/bad beeper. He gets quite a bit of exercise…

He is just over a year old. His mom and dad don't have biting issues. He has a kong which we put milk bones in to keep him busy. He tries at it for maybe 30seconds and then chews on other things.

How much exercise do you give this basenji a day?

@ErinElisabeth:

I personally don't use the shock on the shock collar, I just use the good/bad beeper. He gets quite a bit of exercise…

What training has he had with the collar? In order for him to understand what you mean, he needs to have the tones paired with a primary reenforcer. e.g. if there is a tone that signifies "good" it should be associated with something he finds salient, the most common thing being a food reward. Likewise, if there is a tone signifying "bad", it should have been paired with something aversive. Unless the preparatory training has been done, you are just wasting your time.

You didn't clarify whether he is biting people or just chewing on inappropriate things. And how much exercise is "quite a bit"?

He bites people. Most of the time it's play biting but it hurts a lot.

I live with my parents because I'm still in school. They do most of the exercising with him. I'm not really sure how long but it's everyday.

Have you had this dog since he was a pup? If so, how old was he when you got him? It sounds like he has never learned to inhibit his bite, or that it is not appropriate to bite people. Likely he is just doing it in play, but he needs to understand that he mustn't bite or nip people. How much training have you done with him? Does he obey commands at all? Perhaps you can keep him busy or redirect his attention when he starts biting, or crate him when he can't be supervised? It sounds like something you may need outside help with. I think you should look for a trainer or behaviourist in your area.

My mix who was about 10 months old that I rescued would play bite. She was high strung but she was in a shelter for several months. Everytime she would bite I would tell her no and then give her a bone/toy that was appropriate to chew on. I had plenty around the house!

Jennifer

First Basenji's

Since he is a puppy, a dog, he will chew. He needs to, as this how he explores the world, how he alleviates teething, and just because. Supply lots of appropriate stuff: frozen favorite foods, like baby carrots, green beans, or chicken broth in the form of small ice cubes, Of course to eliminate mess, do so in the kitchen or his crate or outside(supervised), or in bathroom, on a 'chewy blanket' (I go to the thrift stores and get a used comforter as my dogs make little holes every once in awhile so no expensive beds….) The key is to provide for their needs and replace what is not appropriate in our world: couches, rugs, etc.... The exchange method for getting something out of his mouth is better than most methods as this allows him to trust you not to be the 'taker away of good stuff' but the provider of fun. What is the context of the biting(or chewing)? Is is teething or actual biting as in "get away from me" or lunging at you out of the blue to bite skin or clothes? this is a whole different can of worms and if you need help, do so now with a trainer in your area-ASAP!

Hi Erin, welcome to the forum! Even at one year, your basenji is still a puppy. 🙂 If he's play biting, he may not understand that what he's doing is wrong if there's not a consistent response from the humans. Perhaps you and your parents should talk about the right response when he play bites. In my view, if the human automatically responds with a loud, "OUCH!", and then, tell the dog to "down", "stop", "enough", "off".. whatever your family decides. Then, immediately disengage from playing; for example, if he's on the couch and playing, bites hard…. "OUCH!".... then "Enough", and gently place him on the floor.

Basenjis don't respond well to negative reinforcement! It's very important not to retaliate and hit back, or negatively push him away, because he won't understand the connection. However, if you place him on the floor, or walk away, he will learn that what he did was not proper pack behavior and he will understand, with consistent repetition, that biting isn't good.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
Hugs and roos- 🙂

@Patty:

Basenjis don't respond well to negative reinforcement! It's very important not to retaliate and hit back, or negatively push him away, because he won't understand the connection. However, if you place him on the floor, or walk away, he will learn that what he did was not proper pack behavior and he will understand, with consistent repetition, that biting isn't good.

Just to be clear, "negative reinforcement" is not retaliating. That would be "positive punishment". What you are advocating is actually "negative punishment"…....removing something that he wants (your attention), after he performs a behaviour you want to discourage (the biting). "Reinforcement" refers to an action that increases the likelihood of a behaviour being repeated. "Punishment" refers to an action that decreases the likelihood of a behaviour being repeated. "Positive" adds something, "negative" removes something. A lot of people are confused about operant conditioning terms. 🙂

@eeeefarm:

Have you had this dog since he was a pup? If so, how old was he when you got him? It sounds like he has never learned to inhibit his bite, or that it is not appropriate to bite people. Likely he is just doing it in play, but he needs to understand that he mustn't bite or nip people. How much training have you done with him? Does he obey commands at all? Perhaps you can keep him busy or redirect his attention when he starts biting, or crate him when he can't be supervised? It sounds like something you may need outside help with. I think you should look for a trainer or behaviourist in your area.

We have owned Jack since he was exactly six weeks old. He obeys pretty much every command except, "No biting!" It annoys me sometimes because of that. He's a smart dog, I just think he likes to have things his own way.

@Buddys:

Since he is a puppy, a dog, he will chew. He needs to, as this how he explores the world, how he alleviates teething, and just because. Supply lots of appropriate stuff: frozen favorite foods, like baby carrots, green beans, or chicken broth in the form of small ice cubes, Of course to eliminate mess, do so in the kitchen or his crate or outside(supervised), or in bathroom, on a 'chewy blanket' (I go to the thrift stores and get a used comforter as my dogs make little holes every once in awhile so no expensive beds….) The key is to provide for their needs and replace what is not appropriate in our world: couches, rugs, etc.... The exchange method for getting something out of his mouth is better than most methods as this allows him to trust you not to be the 'taker away of good stuff' but the provider of fun. What is the context of the biting(or chewing)? Is is teething or actual biting as in "get away from me" or lunging at you out of the blue to bite skin or clothes? this is a whole different can of worms and if you need help, do so now with a trainer in your area-ASAP!

He starts off play biting, then it hurts so we say, "No biting." He stops for a minute, starts play biting again, he then get rougher and rougher.

He naps on the couch during the day sometimes, and if you sit down on the same couch, even if it's the other side, he will growl at you. I don't know if this has any sort of connection to the biting or not, though.

You got him at six weeks old…...O.K., that may be part of the problem. Had he grown up with his mother and littermates to teach him, he would likely have an inhibited bite (know not to bite hard when playing) and a better idea of appropriate play. At his age it is going to take some work to teach him better manners. It does sound as if he has some "resource guarding" issues.....the rawhides and the couch. It is hard to advise without seeing him, or seeing your family interact with him. If you can find a trainer who is experienced with Basenjis, that would likely be your best solution.

In the meantime, if he bites in play the play should cease. Walk away, crate him, do whatever it takes, but don't allow him to continue his biting after you tell him "no". When he is being gentle and good, reinforce that with kind words, petting, and treats......whatever he finds most rewarding. You have had him long enough so that you must have a sense of when his behaviour will escalate, and what triggers the biting. Try to avoid that situation. If he can't play without being rough, don't play with him! If he approaches you with intent to "play bite", give him something else to do. Clicker training might be a good way to get his mind engaged, and it will be fun for both of you to teach him new tricks and behaviours. There is a lot of information about clicker training on line, including a lot of videos to help you get started.

I have a question about the "shock collar" you mentioned. Did your parents just buy the collar from a store, or did they take a course in the use of the collar? Did a trainer assess your dog? If you haven't been taught the proper use of an e-collar, you can cause a lot more problems than you can solve.

@eeeefarm:

You got him at six weeks old…...O.K., that may be part of the problem. Had he grown up with his mother and littermates to teach him, he would likely have an inhibited bite (know not to bite hard when playing) and a better idea of appropriate play. At his age it is going to take some work to teach him better manners. It does sound as if he has some "resource guarding" issues.....the rawhides and the couch. It is hard to advise without seeing him, or seeing your family interact with him. If you can find a trainer who is experienced with Basenjis, that would likely be your best solution.

In the meantime, if he bites in play the play should cease. Walk away, crate him, do whatever it takes, but don't allow him to continue his biting after you tell him "no". When he is being gentle and good, reinforce that with kind words, petting, and treats......whatever he finds most rewarding. You have had him long enough so that you must have a sense of when his behaviour will escalate, and what triggers the biting. Try to avoid that situation. If he can't play without being rough, don't play with him! If he approaches you with intent to "play bite", give him something else to do. Clicker training might be a good way to get his mind engaged, and it will be fun for both of you to teach him new tricks and behaviours. There is a lot of information about clicker training on line, including a lot of videos to help you get started.

I have a question about the "shock collar" you mentioned. Did your parents just buy the collar from a store, or did they take a course in the use of the collar? Did a trainer assess your dog? If you haven't been taught the proper use of an e-collar, you can cause a lot more problems than you can solve.

They bought the collar from PetSmart.

And with him being six weeks old when we got him, I agree that could at to the problem. But we got him in a place three hours away from our home and we were already headed down there, so that's one reason why we got him then. Another reason is because the breeder had people getting Jack's brothers on other days and he didn't want… well I can't really remember. Something about them missing the other. I truthfully don't know.

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