My dog was in a fight what do I take away from it?
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    I've got a border terrier about 6 years old whose well socialized with both dogs and humans, and for the first time ever, he got into a dog fight at the park we frequent. I'm worried he might he be developing dog aggression but dog fights happen so quicky its hard to tell who started it. It went as follows, me and my border terrier meet a man with 2 basenji's and as we meet, at the moment the dogs are directly next to each other(my border standing in between both basenjis), looking over their shoulders, something happened and it was too quick for me to see, but instantly my dog and one of the basenjis start fighting, it was odd there was no posturing or aggression before they got right next to each other, something happened and they just went at it. During the fight the other basenji started attacking my dog from the side too.

    So my question is, is this common in the breed? The amount of times my dog has been in an actual fight is literally never, but the start of the fight was so fast I couldn't see who was at fault. As Basenji owners is this a known trait flaw in the breed? or is my dog now just getting grumpy with age? The basenji's seemed really well trained too, this was an off leash park and they were walking side by side not a foot in front of their owner.

    Anyways hope someone can help me out with info on this. Thanks

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  • First Basenji's

    Sir, to fight is not a common trait in any dog. The common traits are not to confront in order to live another day! You said yourself that it happened so fast, and that is what all humans say when the dogs at their feet are suddenly tangled up! The lack of posturing you stated is just not true. Without even being there, I will assure you that the twitching of the tail, ear, whiskers, or stiffness in one of the dogs (maybe yours) was just not visible to the human eye, especially since you were probably speaking to the other owner. (was your dog on leash????) I am not putting your dog at fault, but as you said, maybe he is getting older and did not want to 'play' with the Basenjis. There was a whole conversation going on before the 'attack', it was just not visible. Any dog can be well behaved, but have a bad attitude around other dogs or chew your shoes or furniture etc…... Just watch your pooch and if you even sense he does not want to play with another dog, just don't go there. If he is aged, make sure he gets a yearly checkup by your Vet to rule out any problems that he may be hiding from you! Hope this helps!

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  • Regardless of "who started it", once a fight has begun, the two dogs who know each other are likely to respond as a pack. I am speculating here, but perhaps what set it off could be that your dog became defensive when he was "surrounded" by the other two, and either he made a move or the others sensed something they perceived as threatening in his body language. Were the Basenjis same sex or opposite? Perhaps a jealousy reaction if they were male & female?

    Some Basenjis are dog aggressive, and particularly same sex dog aggressive, but one would hope someone who knows his dog has this problem would not be showing up at an off leash park. Did the owner say anything after the fact? Was there any physical damage to any of the dogs? If so, how extensive and to which dog or dogs?

    I would pay attention and be careful with your dog in future meetings with others, as the fight may result in him being more aggressive because he is now fearful of being attacked.

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  • You illustrate why I am not a dog park fan. Not only was your dog in a fight, but now at a risk for being fearful around other strange dogs. Try to limit, make play dates with dogs he knows, and avoid the park for a while til you know how he is doing.

    I agree with Buddy… just because you didn't see signs doesn't mean they weren't plentiful. We just had a fight here, I have been so sleep deprived that I am sure I missed the signs of it coming, but be assured they were there.

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  • @Owlshour:

    at the moment the dogs are directly next to each other(my border standing in between both basenjis), looking over their shoulders, something happened and it was too quick for me to see, but instantly my dog and one of the basenjis start fighting, it was odd there was no posturing or aggression before they got right next to each other, something happened and they just went at it. During the fight the other basenji started attacking my dog from the side too.

    So my question is, is this common in the breed? The amount of times my dog has been in an actual fight is literally never, but the start of the fight was so fast I couldn't see who was at fault. As Basenji owners is this a known trait flaw in the breed? or is my dog now just getting grumpy with age? The basenji's seemed really well trained too, this was an off leash park and they were walking side by side not a foot in front of their owner.

    Anyways hope someone can help me out with info on this. Thanks

    If your BT's head was over the shoulder of one of the basenjis, this can be a dominant (I don't really like that word) or rude gesture. Kind of like if I were to step into your space bubble and hover over you. It could be your BT was just looking at something in the distances, or it could be that your BT, for whatever reason, was posturing. I'd be willing to bet that some dog (or two of them, or all of them) were exhibiting some stiffness, or stillness right before all hell broke out.

    I've noticed basenjis do tend to have larger space bubbles than many breeds and basenjis can be same-sex aggressive, much like many of the terriers. It also may be that the first basenji felt the need to protect the other basenji. And yes, once one pack member is in a fight, it's like a bench-clearing baseball fight. Everyone has to join in.

    Brenda Aloff has a great book on Canine body language if you're interested in learning more.

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  • Agilebasenji…. what a great way to describe "space" for a Basenji "larger space bubble"... makes perfect sense and totally a fact!

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  • I know that for Oakley, as he matured he became dog aggressive. It takes repeated and contolled exposure over long periods of time for him to get acclimated to another dog. He has one "buddy"- a schnauzer hes known since they were both pups (I say that dog was grandfathered in, because of their age when they met). The other dog he gets along with (not as well but well enough to be around and only snark or nip without intention of biting) is the schnauzer the owner of his buddy got a year ago, Oakley was three. The owner and I (whose also my dog walker) took great care to introduce the puppy to oakley and over time the interaction has grown. She always brings her two dogs over when she comes to walk oakley when I am at work. I know his aggression and therefore do not got o dog parks anymore and do not allow other people walking with their dogs to approach. At first I felt funny about it, but now I frankly say, he is not dog friendly. What you described, just being next to each other is what sets Oakley off. He wants the interaction but as soon as he gets side face to side face with another dog, he feels threatened and insecure and will get into a fight. I cant say whether its your dog or his dogs…but in my experience with my one dog...Basenji's are aloof with other dogs, new dogs...and as said above-- do need space and polite behavior. They have (again in my opinion) a lower tolerance level which doesn't bode well for parks.
    What you take from it? Be very conscience in your exposure to other dogs so your dog can rebuild positive experiences because I agree, a bad experience can have lingering effects. I have had to call animal control many times for people having their dogs off leash in yards and I end up putting myself in danger to protect THEIR dogs from my dog eating them! It ruins all my hard work with our behaviorist to de-escalate his threshold level and sets us back so much.
    Always weigh the risks. Your dog getting into a fight (even one that isn't deemed his fault) can lead to medical bills, being sued and possibly his life if he is considered dangerous by the city. Things can get blown out of proportion and lead to this. I may seem dramatic but having a dog like I do, it is my job to protect other people and other dogs from being put in a situation that could jeopardize his life. Sometimes dog parks aren't worth the risks.
    The fight is over with, no use in over analyzing it, move forward and be conscious.

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  • @tanza:

    Agilebasenji…. what a great way to describe "space" for a Basenji "larger space bubble"... makes perfect sense and totally a fact!

    Yes, well, Jet the trying taught me that. He had a huge space bubble, even for a basenji. It was so easy for me to accidentally push him around the far side of a jump in agility, ugh!. I had to teach him to be okay with me running beside him. So, the space bubble doesn't just apply to other dogs, it applies to owners too!

    And back to the OP, some helpful info would be as to the sex and spay/neuter info on all the dogs. I know when my boys were intact, they were always edgy this time of year. Fall is when our lovely girls come into season and the testosterone for male basenjis literally spikes this time of year.

    Having said all that, some basenjis can get on quite well with some strange dogs. My Zest! (almost 7year old spayed female) is selective in her doggy friends. Great with all humans, certified/active therapy dog and does a wonderful job. But pushy, overbearing/overly friendly dogs will be snarked at. However, just this weekend she was surrounded by 16-18 strange silken windhounds in a smallish yard and she was excellent. (one small snark at a "fresh" silken male, but that was it.) But I was careful with her introductions and we slowly waded into the pack. And I know silkens are very polite dogs and are willing to give other dogs plenty of space. ("Her" puppy, Devon, is a year old silken, so we were at a get together for silkens and she does like this breed.)

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    I agree with Buddys Pal: it is often impossible to register all that happens between dogs - the communication may start at a distance and is very subtle. Difficult to say who starts what, how and when. What you can do AFTER the fight, is get together with the other owner with all dogs on leash (at a safe distance) and REALLY get quiet and centered. This tells the dog that you two are OK, and that will help the dogs to be OK with each other in the future. It may take a while, but it really pays off - if you leave the scene as soon as possible after the fight, your dog will remember the incident for ever and will get into a fight easier next time, with the same dogs, or same breed.

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    I feel like sometimes other dogs have a bit more trouble figuring out our Basenjis moods due to the tail. The tail angle and movement are pretty good indicators and it seems like the Basenji tail being different confuses some dogs for a minute. I wonder if dogs with docked or naturally short tails have similar issues or if I am just crazy?

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    In my experience it is less about the ears, but more about the habit of basenji's of touching another dog's butt with their mouths slightly opened as an invitation to run/play. Many dogs and their owners don't get this, and react accordingly. I always monitor up close when especially Lela starts interacting with a dog we don't know. Binti is more reserved, so less of an issue with her. See also books by Turid Rugaas: http://en.turid-rugaas.no/

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