Bassenji agression?
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    Hello guys.
    My basenji lucky is about 1.5 years old and for the past few months or so, we have been seeing very alarming behavior in her. She is quite a great loving gentle dog most of the time but she is quite misbehaved. She loves to steal stuff like food off the table, clothes, personal stuff. We punish her after we see her stealing and take it away. I must also mention that she listens mostly only to my dad because he was much stricter with her from the begging in punishment. So, past few months, whats been happening is after she steal something, I come up to her, in a serious loud tone say no, bad dog, and stuff like that. Than i sit down next to her and when a few months ago, i could just pull the object from her mouth, now she start growling. I know that you arnt supposed to show weakness and back off but if i start reaching for her mouth, she growls louder and starts snapping. She gets this very scary scowl and its obvious that if I come closer at that moment, she will bite me for real. This is the same for me, my sister, and mom but when my dad comes over, she goes onto her back, raises her paws up in submission and lets go. I am very scared about what this is turning into so please help me out with some advice!

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    Obviously Lucky thinks she is higher in rank than all of you, except your dad.
    You, your sister and mom should be working on the inner attitude of being higher in rank - it's got very little to do with punishing or being strict, it is about radiating the confidence that you as a human set the rules in the house.
    Body language is more important here than voice.
    You could try this exercise: take something (a toy e.g.) that she likes, get her attention and put the toy in front of you. As soon as she moves toward the toy, you step in and with your posture and a raised finger (and a 'no') make her stay where she is and focus on your eyes. When this goes well, you can put the toy closer to her, but still don't let her get it. Make her focus on you. You keep at it, until the toy is right in front of her, but her focus is still on you. You all should do it.
    We had to do this with our Binti who snapped at my hand when I wanted to talk away a bone. We did the exercise and in 20 minutes it was clear to her what the rules are. No shouting, punishing, or drama - just calmly projecting the right energy and taking it a step at a time.
    You can translate the essence of this into anything: getting in/out the car, in/out the house, getting food AFTER you let her know she can go the bowl.
    If there's one thing I learned from our B's it's this: punishment does not work, calm consistency (with as little words as possible) does.
    First step is to acknowledge all this as a learning opportunity instead of a problem.
    All the best!

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  • @kjdonkers:

    getting food AFTER you let her know she can go the bowl.

    I have done this with all of my Basenjis. It helps them understand that you control the food.

    That said, when things have gotten as far as they have you certainly do have to "explain" to her that all things are yours, not hers. The problem is likely becoming worse with her age and with her getting her way. Yes, she will likely bite if pushed. There are a number of ways to handle this, and I am sure others will chime in with advice. Personally with theft I have always just grabbed the dog, grabbed the item, and that's the end of it, because if my dog gets hold of something dangerous to eat I can't afford to fool around with strategy. Your confidence level definitely matters, and since she senses that you are afraid of her she has decided she can back you off and keep her treasure. She doesn't sense hesitation from your Dad and isn't about to push things with him. I think kjdonkers advice above is worth trying. Otherwise, you could try "nothing in life is free", and teach her that all good things come from you and that she has to earn them.

    http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/training_nothing_in_life_is_free.html

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    Thanks for the feedback and i will start applying it immediately. I think though that it will undoubtedly take time for her to get accustomed to regarding me in this light. So, in the meantime if she does steal something like lets say undergarments, and I see her chewing it up what i should do is just express as far as possible a field of confidence and just come up to her and take it even if she starts to aggressively grows and snap? What if she actually does bite me though… like breaking through skin... because that would be unacceptable and I wouldn't know what to do and probably back off...

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  • @puppylover1:

    Thanks for the feedback and i will start applying it immediately. I think though that it will undoubtedly take time for her to get accustomed to regarding me in this light. So, in the meantime if she does steal something like lets say undergarments, and I see her chewing it up what i should do is just express as far as possible a field of confidence and just come up to her and take it even if she starts to aggressively grows and snap? What if she actually does bite me though… like breaking through skin... because that would be unacceptable and I wouldn't know what to do and probably back off...

    Don't put yourself in the position of having to confront her, you obviously don't have the confidence and it will only make the situation worse. Try to control what she can get hold of, and perhaps let her drag a leash, which gives you options if she misbehaves. Distraction is another option, e.g. if you notice she has something she shouldn't have, perhaps pretend you didn't see and then fake her out by pretending someone is at the door, or whatever will get her attention off of the forbidden article. Work on getting more control with the methods suggested in the "nothing in life is free" link. This will be a process, but as she becomes more obedient you should be able to avoid confrontation. Some people recommend "trading" a treat for the item she stole, but I personally don't like this approach. A smart dog will figure it out and begin stealing things to obtain a "reward".

    In a real emergency…....i.e. she has gotten hold of something that will hurt her........either ignore the fact you may be bitten and take it away, or startle her into dropping the item. A smack with a pillow may do the trick without harming her. But you really need to work on teaching her that life is more pleasant when she pleases you.

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    This sounds like two separate issues. One stealing, two food/toy aggression.

    With stealing its about stopping the behavior before the are successful. Its hard for me to completely advise without seeing the behavior. But with our female when she starts making a move( watch for the signs) for our food or things she is placed in her kennel. This takes consitancy and time but she eventually associates that behavior with being excluded from the pack. But I will say it has not been easy, Basenjis can be sneaky and persistent.

    Food aggression is tough. Its sounds like you have passed the point where you can rely on confidence of taking the food/toy without it getting serious. I would suggest making it a positive experience to deescalate the situation. Offer food or a toy enchange for what she has. If she has successfully stolen the food she thinks the food is hers. She will learn you are not always trying to steal from her. She won't get so aggro about it over time and you can work on it without an exchange. I would also highly reccomend doing this when she has something that is hers, its about her realizing that you do not always take things from her in negative situations.

    Good luck.

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  • As we have always asked, have you contacted the breeder?

    And by the way, it is YOUR responsibility to pick up after yourselves… if you don't want a pup to "steal" things, DO NOT leave them where they can... if you do... IT IS YOUR FAULT

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    A Basenji needs to know who is the boss & it is in their nature to see what they can get away with you always need to be one step ahead of them. The stealing thing sounds like your B knows it's wrong it may have become a game to your B. I've found the best way to stop a B from doing the wrong thing is to stop them before it happens. I'm sure you know when your B is in a situation where this stealing thing is going to happen. Watch & make sure your B knows your are watching. It will take time it really is a test of wills. Basenjis are really a great dogs but if you don't teach them right from wrong it could be a trying time for both of you. I never hit my B I started training him with a water pistol that worked great, but my B soon realized when I didn't have the water pistol. A 'strong no' looking straight into his eyes works now. Good luck…

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  • Well TP3 I don't agree that aversion training is good or necessary most of the time. I'd like to suggest that you and anyone look into positive training. "leave it" can be taught without spray guns.

    http://www.clickerlessons.com/index.htm

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    It was a spray bottle filled with water & I'm sure you know how much a Basenji doesn't like water. I would use the spray bottle to help my B understand stealing 'people food' was wrong. All it would take was one spray & my B got it & in time all I had to do was look at the spray bottle & my B knew what was going to happen. Today I don't need the spray bottle anymore. Also I think this training is much better then something like those shock collar things. Positive training with a B is the best. Today I know my B wants to please me & do the right thing. Stealing 'people food' was one of the hardest things for my B to understand was wrong. The spray bottle was my way of thinking outside of the box to help train my B

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  • Spray bottles or squirt guns can work well to get your point across. Yes, it's an aversive, but very mild. The dog can make a choice here. The breeder I got my current boy from used a spray bottle to good effect, and as a result I have the best Basenji I have ever owned in terms of house manners. He doesn't destroy anything, and doesn't even get into tissue.

    There is no question that aversives work, and work well if timed correctly. Nature trains with aversives and so do bitches, for that matter. I see no harm in it. When positive training gets the results you want, it's the best way to go, but when you are struggling with a problem that isn't responding to what you are doing, it's time to consider something else. Stealing is potentially harmful to the dog and needs to be controlled.

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