Basenji protective and growling
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    Hi, really looking for some advise...we just got a 1-year old basenji female. And she suddenly started growling in the evening when my son stood up from the couch while she was on the opposite couch sleeping with my 8-year old. Then my husband tried to take my daughter to sleep and she started growling again and bit him. We are very sad and not sure how should we go about this! Please help! Then I came along and in a very strict voice said "no", and took my daughter by hand and walked her to her bedroom. Shelby (the basenji) followed her and positioned herself right next to her, on her bed.

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    My 1 year old female is the same. Basenji's unfortunately don't like to be disturbed while resting or sleeping. They will growl and snap a little, at least mine does this. She doesn't bite, just kinda mouthy with you. We have learned to approach her better by petting gently and rubbing her belly before we move. It's a little more calming than frightening her when we move away from her.

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  • This could also be "resource guarding". If she likes your daughter she could be asserting her "right" to exclusive "ownership". Otherwise it is probably just what Lily girl mentioned: it is not unusual for a Basenji to resent intrusion on his or her space when resting. Biting, however, is not acceptable. I would leave a leash attached to her collar for awhile so that you can remove her from a situation if warranted. I would be cautious when disturbing her, but she must learn that she isn't the one calling the shots. Perhaps a short course of "nothing in life is free" might be useful. ( http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/training_nothing_in_life_is_free.html ) How long have you had her? Do you use a crate? Has she shown any other aggressive behaviour? And most important, if you got her from a breeder or rescue you should contact them for advice.

    last edited by eeeefarm
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  • @shelby2016 Where did you get her? From rescue (as in a Basenji rescue group, not a shelter)? From a Breeder?... If rescue, typically they are "vetted" totally before placement. If a Breeder, have you talked to the breeder? How long have you had her?

    last edited by tanza
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  • @eeeefarm I agree with eeeefarm, sounds like a form of resource guarding... could be the child, could be the couch... and agree with "nothing is free".... you might want to get a behaviorist into the home to watch the behavior and give advise. Unless people know the home, family, situation, any given advise might lead to more problems

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    Thank you for all your feedback! Yes, it seems like she is very fond of her and was claiming her right... We'll try having a lead on her. We don't have a crate for her as we just got her a day ago. we adopted her from a breeder but from what I know she lived outside and was not a house dog at all.
    I agree she might need some training...

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  • @shelby2016 sounds like she was not from a responsible breeder, nor was she properly socialized. I would employ a behaviorist. Is this so called breeder in GA?

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  • @shelby2016 said in Basenji protective and growling:

    We don't have a crate for her as we just got her a day ago. we adopted her from a breeder but from what I know she lived outside and was not a house dog at all.
    I agree she might need some training...

    If you just got her, this is very early days. You need to keep her under control and establish that it is your house, your rules, before she gets the idea that she can get what she wants through intimidation. You don't have to be harsh, but you do need to let her know she is not the boss. Leaving a leash on her will help you, as you should be able to take control when needed. Lots of praise when she responds correctly, ignore or remove from the situation when she does not. Get a crate, for times that you cannot supervise (not safe to let her trail a leash when nobody is around), and get some advice from a trainer or behaviourist. Was this an "impulse buy"? I ask because you seem very ill prepared to handle a new, young, untrained dog.....

    To put a positive spin on things, my last boy bit me the day he arrived (he was 3 years old), but he turned out to be one of the sweetest Basenjis I have known. It took some time for mutual respect and trust to develop, but we got there!

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    @eeeefarm We already got a crate and in the processes of booking a behaviourist. No, it was not impulsive but I never dealt with basenjis before, we had a lab prior to her. We read quite a bit about the basenjis and we knew that we wanted to adopt that specific breed. I had numerous communications with the breeder and she told me that she was the most sweetest girl ever and very well behaved. I tries to find out as much as possible about her before we got her. I just did not realise she was not a house dog at all... only when she was a pup. But now we know, breeder also suggested to get a crate and was very surprised of her behaviour. We took the advice and maintaining very firm voice when she is like that and it seems to be working. She just went crazy in the house - jumping on tables and kitchen benches, so we are slowly and patiently putting her down with a no, or if it does not work outside for some time. I can see that she learning the rules. It's just hard for her - all these changes that just happened. She bit my husband today but he managed to take her and get her outside with a strong "no". Thank you for sharing that your 3-year old boy bit her on your first day! It's reassuring that we are going to get there too one day:) I am sure we will. It also turned out that she was house trained when she was a pup and then lived outside, so we get minor accidents from time to time... Thanks for all your help, guys!

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  • @shelby2016 said in Basenji protective and growling:

    @eeeefarm No, it was not impulsive but I never dealt with basenjis before, we had a lab prior to her. We read quite a bit about the basenjis and we knew that we wanted to adopt that specific breed.

    Basenjis certainly are different from most breeds. I have had five over the space of over forty years, and I love them but they are not for everyone! Think cat in a dog's body. Independent and want to do things their way. And they prefer to please themselves, not you! Definitely they can learn and cooperate and for the most part adhere to the house rules, but it takes time, patience, and most important, consistency, to obtain cooperation. Basenjis can be very sweet and loving, but they can also be difficult and defiant. They are smart, but will put their intelligence to use for their own ends, not to please you. So the trick is to make them want to do it your way, and make them think it is their decision! Good luck. I'm sure you will end up with a wonderful companion and it will be worth the trouble.

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    In my experience, basenjis do not like to be man-handled. I think they quickly learn to ignore the word "no". I have found it best to divert their attention when they are doing something wrong or trick them into doing what you want. So, if you want the dog off the couch, instead of picking the dog up and risk getting bit, call the dog and have a tempting treat and put the dog in a sit. You are rewarding the sit and not any bad behavior and the dog is learning basic commands. It sounds like your pup is very overwhelmed with a new family and new home so the growling and biting may be a reaction to her stress. So finding ways to "trick" her into good behavior while avoiding conflicts might lower the stress for everyone.

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    @margiem I think you are right, over the few days I've noticed that it was only directed towards men and not just in the couch 'situation'... My son's friend came over and she growled and snapped at him while all the kids were playing together and he just wanted to pet her. Then just sitting here, working on my computer, Shelby lying next to me and handy man comes to the door. When I open the door she is there with me and alert as if she is ready to protect me but yes I agree and that's what I do is I reinforce her good behaviour and I f'course she is stressed. New family, new rules, new everything. She is really testing her boundaries and finding her place in our clan :) Also another thing is those house accidents and jumping on tables and kitchen benches makes it more difficult. But definitely something to do with men. Looks like she is a quick learner at lease for now she gets "no", she learned "sit"...slowly getting there.

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  • M

    I would also recommend putting her in the crate when your children's friends are over. The basenji is a hunter and will chase anything that runs, even children. My first basenji didn't like to be petted until he checked the person out. If anyone reached toward him, he would snap at them. I would tell visitors to ignore my dog until he approached them. That worked like a charm.
    Small children will also stare at a dog which could be considered as aggressive by your pup. Or tether the dog to you so you can keep an eye on the dog and the kids.

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  • @margiem said in Basenji protective and growling:
    I think they quickly learn to ignore the word "no".

    Too true, and other words they choose to ignore, like "come". :-) In my experience it is best to avoid issuing commands you are not reasonably sure will be obeyed. All it teaches the dog is that she can ignore you. If you are not in a position to enforce or entice the dog into obeying, at least don't allow them to practice ignoring you by asking for something you can't get.

    I agree that diverting their attention is a good approach, but there will be times when you just need to take control of a situation, and if that means physically you have to do so, but as gently as you can. Reward lavishly for obedience and be consistent. Generally it isn't long before the dog decides it is far more pleasant to get a reward than it is to ignore you.

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  • Best thing you can do is to enroll her in an obedience class that stresses positive reinforcement (also called clicker training). Basenjis are not at all like labs or retrievers or other people-oriented breeds. She's young and at a ripe age for learning all kinds of things (good and bad) and since you have children around some rules are definitely in order. Rules not only for the dog but also for the kids (don't leave the back yard gate open) Basenjis are natural hunters and will (I stress will) take off after a squirrel or other creature and not pay attention to any cars in the street. Formal training will be your best friend.

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    First Basenji's

    clicker training and treats, positive reinforcement works best for B's. My three know , stop, very well, sit and also be kind, I trained them on these words early, yes "be kind" works. Mine have never growled at children, they love them,.

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    First Basenji's

    also, I dont crate animals, at least not lock the door, my Belle went in and sleep when she was ready and stayed untill the next a.m.
    Crates are not usful in my phiosp;y of training. gates are punishment to moi

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  • @CrazyBasenjiMom said in Basenji protective and growling:

    also, I dont crate animals, at least not lock the door, my Belle went in and sleep when she was ready and stayed untill the next a.m.
    Crates are not usful in my phiosp;y of training. gates are punishment to moi

    I don't like crates, but they have their usefulness. When you have to leave an untrained or unproven pup or dog alone confinement to either a crate or dog run or dog proof room can save you a lot of grief! Personally I believe it is abusive to leave a dog crated for more than 4 hours at a time so if you work full time it's essential to give the dog a break midday, either personally or hire someone to do it. I object to the use of crates when someone is home, however, and I prefer to dispense with crates as soon as it's practical. Some Basenjis will be more trustworthy than others, and some make the transition sooner, but all five that I have owned over the years "graduated" to being allowed free run of the house or at least partial free run (excluded from or confined to a couple of rooms), depending on the dog. If you have to be away from home for long periods of time a secure dog run with shelter is very useful, but in that case it is best if you have more than one dog. Basenjis do not do well when deprived of company!

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