Leash aggression/pulling with other dogs

  • Hi there all!

    So we adopted our girl at 9yrs old, have had her since April. She is the 5th basenji I've owned so I know the breed and their quirks very well, the only problem is since she had 9yrs of being acclimated to not having other dogs around, now that we have her in a city where she takes at least 2-3 walks a day I am having a hard time breaking the habits she's built for years under different circumstances.
    Whenever we're able to have a controlled meet&greet with a friend's dog after a few minutes of commands and sniffing she shakes off the aggression and tries to play (once she's crossed the barrier of 'scary enemy' to 'friend' it does stick!)
    But it has been very slow progress still getting her to calm down when seeing unknown dogs while out on walks. She will totally spaz out, hair raised, panting, pulling any way she can to keep her eyes and body pointed at the other dogs.
    We try to distract by saying "let's go!" in a different direction and then praise when she looks forward and stops worrying - it's been making her reactions much shorter and slightly less of a spectacle, but it's been slow results,
    any tips?

    (I know typically the obvious solution would be to socialize the dog from the very beginning, but I unfortunately didn't have the chance, adopting her at 9yrs old, she is the most wonderful and calm and sweet other than this!)

    (PS. She even gets along with our reptiles and lets the lizard climb on her with never any fuss or aversion, which is normally unusual, but shows how calm she is generally, can't seem to stick it with the doggos though. Also, she has never been attacked or severely injured from the records I have so that shouldn't be it)

  • I've had dog aggressive Basenjis and it's a hard habit to break. Since you say she will settle down and accept a new dog after the initial aggression, that's a good sign. Perhaps more experience meeting new dogs in a controlled setting would help. With my last boy, there was nothing for it but to avoid "close encounters" by changing direction or having him sit at a distance as they passed, but he had had some bad experiences and definitely wanted to get his licks in first! Some Basenjis just don't like other dogs, or sometimes just same sex, and it's hard to get them to change their minds.

    From your other post it looks like giving treats to divert the behaviour isn't an option, but asking for an incompatible behaviour, like sitting, might be.....

  • Like eeeefarm suggested, lots more meet & greets should help. If you can find a place with few dogs and get different owners to just walk by, starting out at a distance far enough to not be a danger, then slowly getting closer. The more times in a day you can do it, the better. Hopefully she will get tired of the theatrics. Happy up tone when praising her, use kibble for treats for now. Start out sitting somewhere and have her still and sitting. Then standing. Next walking in the opposite direction.

    Keep in mind she has only been with you less than 4 months, so she's really just settling in and building trust in you. Be patient. If that's the only times she is distressed, then if you have to walk really early and late to avoid most "dog traffic", until she has a few more months to settle. If she is distressed over other things, talk with your vet about a short term trial of prozac. It sounds like other dogs are the only issue. The goal is to decrease her reactiveness... it isn't to make her a social butterfly. And bless you for adopting her.

  • Maybe walk with some extra delicious treats in your pocket. I had a really nasty dog in the yard behind me one time, and if any of us went outside, he would start barking and charging the wood fence. My dogs would get agitated and run over to try to attack back, but I started giving them treats every time it happened, so they started coming straight to me when that dog hit the fence.

  • It's a slow process, be patient and consistent with her. We adopted Bolt 6 years ago, he's 12 y/o and 3/4 Africain. We don't know his history, but at some point he got into a dog fight. He has the scars to prove it. When we walk, there are certain dogs that will trigger a violent reaction from him. Over the years I've gotten very good at reading other people, and how they walk their dogs, plus reading their dog's body language. A high straight up tail tightly wagging will send him off the rails. I've worked extensively with him to the point that he is manageable when he sees other dogs. I usually make him sit, or give as wide a distance as I can allow. BUT, he is a biter, so I'm extremely cautious when I'm around other people. All bets are off if that other dog is not leashed!! It does get better, and yes you can teach an older dog new behaviors, I certainly did.

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