Sudden Aggression Toward Other Dogs

My basenji/shiba inu mix has started all of a sudden showing aggression toward other dogs.

Last summer I took her to the dog park regularly and she was very good with other dogs and wanting to play aside from the occasional nips. This summer when I started taking her back to the dog park she has started fights with any dog that shows interest in her.

The only change in her environment has been my sister moved in with her dog (rat terrier) and they get along wonderfully. But whenever I take them both for a walk, the rat terrier barks (non-aggressively) to any person or dog he sees and my dog growls, snaps and goes for the other dog?s neck. My dog shows no signs of aggression toward people at all, only other dogs.

Should I continue taking her to the dog park to re-socialize her? Perhaps without my sister?s dog? This new sudden aggression to other dogs has been very concerning.

I appreciate any insight you could provide!

How old is your dog?

She turned two in November

O.K. that may be part of the picture. She is growing up. The influence of the your sister's dog is likely another factor. Same sex aggression is not unusual in Basenjis. Is she aggressive with all other dogs, or just the females?

When was her last vet check? I would make sure that her growliness is not because she is hurting somewhere and feels that she could not defend herself (or her pack) if she needed to. Did you take her to the dog park before the rat terrier entered the picture? If so, what was she like then? If you walk both dogs together on leash, what is she like if she encounters another dog? I'm wondering if the rat terrier barking is setting her off. You COULD try taking her to the park without the rat terrier to see if it makes a difference, but you must follow her everywhere - she can't be out of your sight.

We have stopped taking Kipawa to the dog park. I was finding the energy there not that condusive to healthy dog play. People were not watching their dogs - they were busy drinking pop and chatting. Dogs were getting out of hand and the owners were not giving them a 'time out'. I saw some scary things escalate there, so it is not an area we choose to go to any more.

I agree that a full vet check should be done any time there is a sudden change in behavior but it is not unusual for mature dogs to decide they do not want new dog friends. It is very common with basenjis and shibas to prefer to associate with a smaller group of known dogs then deal with the unknown dogs and varying numbers of a dog park.

She's always been a little snippy at most female dogs, but some in my neighborhood she's friends with. Recently at the dog park, it's hard to tell exactly what sex they are when they come up to her, but it's been every dog she's had a problem with (besides the rat terrier).
Last summer (before my sister's dog came into the picture) at the dog park she was very playful and I never had any worry she'd start something with another dog.

When I walk both dogs together, she's interested in the other dog, but as soon as she smells for a minute, then she immediately starts snarling and going for their throat. When I walked her alone, for the most part she'd be friendly enough. I do wonder too if the rat terrier's barking is making her feel protective.

I believe her wellness check was back in October. It has been recent, but I'm feeling like I need to call them again to explain this sudden behavior.

I would - sudden changes can be cause for concern. Please keep us posted.

Is she intact or spayed?


Good question, but she's been spayed for over a year now. Not sure if it's worth mentioning or not, but because she is part shiba, she does have a soft undercoat that she's completely shedding right now. She blows it about twice a year. I'm not sure if that can cause some irritability.


I do wonder too if the rat terrier's barking is making her feel protective.

Hmmmm…. interesting thought. I know Kipawa wants nothing to do with barking dogs. He looks at them for awhile and then walks away, choosing not to play with them. That's a different action for him as he wants to play with every dog he sees.

For the experts on here - as basenjis can't bark, could they be feeling that they have limited options when they are around a barking dog? Is it possible that not being able to bark back causes anxiety/aggravation in this situation?

Is the Rat Terrier teaching her bad habits that she did not have before? I have found some JRTs/RTs at the dog parks to be very barky and so playful that sometimes they will not leave the other dogs alone-keep bothering them to play.


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