Biting
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    Hi I have a 3 year old female basenji who has recently started to growl and bite when a stranger pets her. This is a new behavior for her and I am concerned and don't know what to do. Please help!

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  • Are the strangers waiting till she has a chance to "inspect" them first before trying to touch? Also you can carry treats and let the stranger offer a treat.
    Some as they get older just don't want strangers to pet them.

    Also, as a FYI, get her thyroid checked, full panel

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  • B

    Thank you for your reply. She is actually jumping up to say hello then when they pet her she growls and bites. the last incident happened when she was in the kitchen, but she was behind the gate I have and she jumped up to say hello, like she always does and then when the stranger went to pet her she growled and bit. I will try the treat idea, and talk to the vet about the thyroid panel. this is such new behavior for her, it seems like it happened overnite. also she is not spayed, do you thing that has anything to do with it?

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  • I would say yes about the spay, especially this time of year….. Is there a reason she is not spayed? Also, regarding "seems like it happened overnite".... usually that is not really the case... there are usually little hints that they give out, but we as humans many times miss those ques.

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    she was not spayed because the breeder had wanted to breed her but it did not work out. I am thinking maybe we should do that now. I also just realized she never went into heat in September like she usually does and I am now wondering if this is all related somehow? I am taking her to the vet Monday.

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  • Always good to make sure no health issues.

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  • B

    yes, thanks for the helpful information. will keep you posted.

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  • Nothing to add because Pat covered it all.. please let us know how the thyroid comes out. And do remember that behind a gate my signal to her that she is trapped, raising anxiety. Having someone seated, let her out and let them toss her treats etc so she starts seeing strangers as okay again.

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  • Agree with the above, but more details would be useful. Did anything happen that might have changed her attitude to strangers? Is it possible someone inadvertently hurt her? Is it all strangers now, and is she O.K. with people she has met previously, or is it an issue with any visitor? You mention her "jumping up to say hello". Apart from anything else, it is bad doggy manners to jump on people, and you might want to teach her to greet with four feet on the ground. A stranger reaching for a dog is IMO always a bad idea. It can be perceived as aggression. Better to let the dog do her sniffing and investigation, then offer the back of a hand not to pet but for the dog to sniff and accept, before any attempt to touch. Does she growl in warning and give the stranger a chance to react and back off, or is the bite immediately delivered as she growls?

    Oh, and one other thought: does she have any sore areas on her body? Any chance that the act of jumping up hurts her and she associates that with the visitor? (does she jump on you with no adverse reaction?) If the thyroid turns out not to be an issue, then one wonders what has changed. Not coming into heat could be a sign of something going on…...I had a situation with a mare who had cramps when she ovulated, and was "off" to the point of looking like colic, so "female troubles" can show up in unusual ways. It took us a while to diagnose her difficulties.

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  • K

    Lots of good advice all around.
    A few things from our experience with our Lela:

    • we ask strangers to totally ignore her initially (no touch, talk or eye contact) and let her sniff it out;
    • we will ask the strangers later to offer her a treat;
    • when she starts barking (yes!) when someone enters, it is usually a person with a strong energy field; we tell her to go in her basket and we spray some http://alaskanessences.com/collections/sprays/sacred-space-sprays in the room - that helps a lot;
    • we went to see a holistic vet about the issue and he prescribed tailor made blends of flower remedies - they helped a lot too
      All in all, Lela just does not want to be touched to her head and she is very particular as to how much space she needs to feel safe.
      When we pay attention to this, it works out well.
      Good luck.

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  • B

    As far as I know nothing bad has happened. She has always been friendly to everyone but I will make sure in the future to let her investigate first. She doesn't seem to be in pain when she jumps on me at all. She went to the vet today and he checked her thyroid, he thought she may have a problem and noticed the hair on her back was a little thin. So I am awaiting the results. He didn't know why she didn't go into heat so I don't know where to go with that.

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  • B

    Thanks for all the info, I appreciate everyone's advice

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  • One other thought. Ask your guests not to look directly into her eyes, but avert their gaze. Some dogs interpret eye contact as aggression. You didn't say whether her behaviour extends to those she has met before or is limited to total strangers.

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  • @Benti:

    As far as I know nothing bad has happened. She has always been friendly to everyone but I will make sure in the future to let her investigate first. She doesn't seem to be in pain when she jumps on me at all. She went to the vet today and he checked her thyroid, he thought she may have a problem and noticed the hair on her back was a little thin. So I am awaiting the results. He didn't know why she didn't go into heat so I don't know where to go with that.

    Note that if the thyroid is low/normal, that is typically too low for a Basenjis

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  • B

    so typically if the result is low normal they need medication?

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    it seems to be with total strangers but I haven't had any people over recently that she would be familiar with. she did growl at me twice when I went to close her crate for the night. she was already in it and this was definitely not normal behavior for her.

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  • @Benti:

    so typically if the result is low normal they need medication?

    Yes, medication

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  • @Benti:

    it seems to be with total strangers but I haven't had any people over recently that she would be familiar with. she did growl at me twice when I went to close her crate for the night. she was already in it and this was definitely not normal behavior for her.

    I would say that is a red flag. I'll be surprised if the thyroid levels are normal. She seems a bit old to be going through a "I'm mature now" change in behaviour. Sounds like she is not prepared to tolerate things that irritate her in any way.

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  • And I would still look at having her spayed

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  • B

    so her thyroid came back 1.7, and normal is 1-4. the vet is saying this is normal, in your experience is this considered low normal? I am a nurse practitioner but have no idea what to do with the furry patients?

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  • B

    her thyroid came back normal the vet said, 1.7, normal is between 1-4 they are telling me.

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