• Dear fellow Basenji owners,

    I am in desperate need of your help. I have an 8 year old male brindle Basenji that is a huge part of my world. My dog means everything to me- as is probably the case for most of you. My dog, Niles, has formed a very close bond with both me and another family member. Aside from that, Niles is characteristically aloof and shy around strangers. I have never had issues with Niles health-wise and his last few routine vet visits have shown him to be in good overall shape. However, much to my shock and extreme worry, Niles has become very, very unstable around everyone that isn't me or the other family member that he is well-bonded with and very loyal. For example, he will sit near someone eating something and beg (something he really never used to do) and then get in close proximity to them. When he is shooed away or told "no" firmly, he will completely snap and begin to full-on attack and cause minor bleeding (3-4 times now). Several months passed without incident. However, That all changed today in the worst way possible. The most severe and recent incident occurred today during our family Thanksgiving and completely ruined it. A relative was scratching his belly and he snapped again and caused enough damage to require stitches. I am beyond upset, concerned, shocked and at a loss for what to do. I can no longer have him anywhere near other people for both his safety and theirs. This behavior is not at all normal and is truly coming out of nowhere. The is ZERO provocation. There are a growing number of people who now want Niles to be put down and I feel that I might be out of options very soon if this keeps up. If anyone has any ideas or experience with this type of thing PLEASE let me know. I am very concerned that it might be a brain tumor or something of that nature. Thank you for any help you might be able to give.

  • I think your first move should be to discuss this with your vet and have some tests run. Thyroid problems can cause behavioural issues. There are others on this board who have more experience in this area, but do a search on "thyroid" to see what has been noted in the past.

    If it isn't a physical problem then you might want to consult a behaviourist. Dogs do change sometimes as they age, but also in response to incidents in their life. My boy became untrustworthy with strangers after we had visiting nurses coming and going frequently to deal with my husband's illness. I managed the situation by keeping him away from people he didn't know, particularly as they were leaving, because that was the danger zone for his aggression.

    Until you find some answers I would restrict his access to anyone you think might trigger a reaction.

  • Sudden behavior change at this age is almost always medical. I am glad you are now keeping him separated, but honestly you should have the first incident. After the first bite, most courts or judges would rule you knew he was a danger and he could not only have been seized, but you sued for significant damages. You are lucky no one is filing.

    Thyroid is the primary cause that I am aware of for sudden change. Yes, brain tumors are possible, but more likely thyroid. Some forms of epilepsy also can cause a dog to attack, but typically this is truly out of nowhere-- not like what you describe when a dog is told no about something. Pain can also do it.. sadly cancer had been found in similar situations of sudden growing aggression. The ENCOURAGING part is you had several months without problems... so again, look at the most simple... thyroid. Make sure you get a full panel, not just an in-house partial.

    In the meantime, understand you didn't cause this, and it may be fixable. If thyroid, it's inexpensive medication. But you won't know until you get tests runs. Hopefully those wanting him put down will feel better knowing you are acting to find out if there is a medical issue.

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