• I have been struggling with this since I got my Basenji mix almost two months ago. We are FINALLY in a routine, attending puppy classes, and getting to the dog park everyday at the same time.

    A little bit about Sully:

    He is about 10 months old we think.

    Definitely has Basenji in him, but is probably mixed with many other breeds

    When we got him, he had HORRIBLE play-biting tendencies. We solved this by playing tug everyday as a training reward (as suggested by our trainer)

    He is very dominant at the dog park…will mount randomly, but is getting much better with correction from both me and the dogs.

    He's an avid chewer. We always have bones/chew toys available for him, and he probably chews for an hour a day, easy.

    He is such a sweetheart when he wants to be!

    So, my issue is that he argues with me. I'll be sitting on the couch (either paying attention to him, or not) and he'll start barooing. It sounds like he is talking. He bites the couch and will start to go after me. Punishment for this only gets him more excited. We are starting to do time outs, and that seems to help, but....what the heck is this???

    I have tried everything to either tell him "no, that's not okay," or to satisfy this need that he suddenly has. I thought maybe he wanted to play, so I would tell him to get a toy, but he'd get bored of that within a few minutes and continue arguing/nipping. Then I thought maybe he had to go potty, but he has a bell for that and uses it with no problem. It's like he's telling me he wants something, and when he can't have it, he starts nipping.

    ALSO, almost forgot to mention that he does this when we actually have something that he can't have, i.e food. If I'm eating anywhere but the table he might do this, but not every time. And he does this to dogs at the park if he wants them to play. He makes the same sounds and gently nips them as well.

    I'm so confused! Any help is appreciated!!

  • Does he have a herding breed mixed in by any chance? That might explain the nipping, if so.

    Do you follow the "nothing in life is free" mantra? Meaning that in order for him to get 'anything'; pets, treats, getting up on the couch, food…..etc. Any kind of attention or reward really, he must do something for you first. It might help get the dynamic back in-line.......he sounds like a combination of high energy and dominant.

    And key phrase here: he's a sweetheart when he wants to be. It should be "he's a sweetheart when I want him to be". He shouldn't be 'arguing' with you. It needs to stop immediately. Example: You're on the couch watching tv...he comes over and starts being rude. You say no once. If he doesn't stop then force him into a crate, other room, and ignore him for a bit. Dog's are social creatures.....being ignored or denied access is extremely effective. There are other ways you can do this of course......

    Don't tolerate nipping when you're eating. Do whatever you can to get the message across to him.

    Probably not a good idea to allow him in the bed with you, or on the couch....unless he's behaving according to your terms.

    • Is he getting enough exercise? 1-2 hours a day of walking or running.

    And of course 'nothing in life is free'....before he is allowed to go into the park he must sit and wait, etc. Same thing for the bones....he has to do something for you.

    Puppy classes/obedience classes will help a little bit, and sounds like he's getting better.....but honestly, unless he's mixed with a large breed dog, he should be showing a lot more respect, than it sounds like he is, at his age.

    Good luck

  • This reminds me of two things: 1) how my Basenji plays, and 2) how she behaves when she's frustrated.

    When she's playing, she grabs blankets on the bed, the edge of the couch… anything soft she can get her mouth on... and tugs at it rather violently. She does it because she's trying to incite my husband, our other dog, or me to play. If she does it, I change my tone of voice from happy/play to unhappy very quickly. She gets the point, and we bring playtime antics down a notch. Understanding tone of voice is so important, and making it over-dramatic and obvious at first will help him get the point; happy voice = attention, unhappy voice = no attention.

    The frustration thing. Ahhh, a frustrated Basenji is a sight to behold. Our Basenji takes it out on our mini Aussie. She pounces on her, mouths her neck, thrashes a little bit, and then returns to the dinner table to grumble at us for food. To curb this behavior toward out Aussie, who's sad and submissive enough already LOL (and, of course, to stop the begging), we would get up from the table immediately when she'd start, give her a firm "quit", and scruff/carry her straight into the bathroom. Then we'd turn off the light and close the door. Don't leave a spiteful Basenji alone in the bathroom for long. It only takes a minute to get your intentions across. Needless to say, Penny did NOT like being in the dark bathroom by herself, and it got to the point that as soon as we stood up from the table to scold her, she would stop in the middle of what she was doing and retreat to the couch to watch from a distance. She still stares at us incessantly, but it's better than being poked by Basenji paws and having what sounds like a wet sock in a trumpet played to us at dinnertime. 😃

  • My B too will grab the closest thing and bite/shake it when he's excited and wants to play. He also has "slapped" me in the face or leg when I'm ignoring him. For him I grab a toy and redirect him to something he CAN attack and play with. It usually works!

  • I would definitely read this as him wanting attention and/or something you have that he wants. The frustration builds up and that gets him talking. (my boy is the same way if he is impatient with me about something he wants, usually food, but he only vocalizes, he doesn't nip.)

    When he does this, I would ask him for a specific behaviour (sit, down, something he knows how to do), and if he complies I would then pay attention to him, either play or patting or perhaps food if appropriate. If he tries nipping, (either you or the couch!) you need to remind him that that is not acceptable behaviour. Time outs are a good option, especially if corrections get him excited. But the bottom line is he wants more attention from you, and he gets his reward because his behaviour results in a response from you. I think I would try observing him closely and heading this off before it starts, probably by asking him to do something for me before he starts vocalizing and nipping. Keep him busy for awhile and he may decide he'd rather relax than bug you.

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