Basenjis: Growling and Chasing

So, I have a basenji. My first one. She’s about 3 years old, I got her through a breeder around 4 months of age, so I’m quite familiar with her and her behavior. I also have 3 cats. She loves to chase them and I’ve been trying to work on that with her. I just moved recently and she’s back into the entire chase and pin motion with the cats. I was able to calm her antics before for a time with crating and treats, but that doesn’t seem to work currently. She’s not attacking, but she will pin them on their backs and nibble/deflea their stomachs. I understand that they enjoy hunting and plenty of people have disapproved of having her around cats, but it’s not optional. I’m not rehoming her or my cats.
So, any advice on how to stop her from chasing the cats would be appreciated.
Now, that being said, she’s also adapted this growling behavior as of recently. Back in January (of ‘19) I added a chihuahua to the family. And yes, she is the stereotypical mouthy lil dog with a serious case of Little Dog Syndrome. And boy, does this chihuahua love to fight. Her and my basenji will chase one another for an hour at a time and constantly bite and push at one another. My basenji loves to grab the chihuahua’s scruff and pin her down, but she’s never actually attacked the pup. Though recently within the past 3 days, my basenji started growling when she chases one of my cats–pinning her to the ground. I got the cat as a stray kitten around 3 months after my basenji, so they’ve practically grown up together. And they love each other. They sleep together, play together and follow each other around the house. They’re best friends. But this growling behavior is off putting to the cat (like it kind of scares her).
My basenji is not becoming overly aggressive, she just sounds it. But, I’m getting the feeling that this might have something to do with her interactions with my chihuahua. My chihuahua always growls (not in a mean way), even if the basenji is just simply walking past her. It leads me to believe that my basenji is taking on growling as a form of communication for when she’s attempting to play with the cat (as my chihuahua does with her).
Does anyone know of any instances of their basenji(s) growling when playing?
Any tips or advice on how to go about these scenarios would be much appreciated!

This may be harmless or it may be escalation. A growl can be a bite that hasn't happened yet. How is the Chihuahua with the cats? With so many animals in the mix there is a serious possibility of things going sideways. Nice when critters get along, but it works until it doesn't. Personally I would not leave the dogs and cats together unsupervised, but perhaps this is already your policy?

Stopping the chasing......how obedient is your Basenji? If you are unable to verbally get her to quit it, maybe you need to have a means to interrupt the chasing if need be, e.g. leave a leash dragging that you can grab. If you want her to stop this behaviour you need to have a means to shut it down quickly and enforce the "no chase" regimen.

@eeeefarm My basenji is good for me. She does have a slightly hard head with the rest of my family, but after anyone else gets firm, she cooperates (for the most part). My chihuahua is very sweet. She gets along well with the family, cats and dog.

@madisbasenji1 said in Basenjis: Growling and Chasing:

@eeeefarm My basenji is good for me. She does have a slightly hard head with the rest of my family, but after anyone else gets firm, she cooperates (for the most part). My chihuahua is very sweet. She gets along well with the family, cats and dog.

Then I would focus on making it clear to her that chasing is unacceptable. I consider the growling worrisome, although it could be nothing serious, but better safe than sorry. The presence of the Chihuahua may have played a part in her change in behaviour. Or perhaps the cats' behaviour has changed in some way. Cats often react to a change in accommodation. Have you noticed anything, perhaps very subtle? If the cats felt unsure of themselves in new surroundings that may have triggered the Basenji to resume the chasing behaviour. Hard to say, but so many possibilities.

The short answer to whether they growl when playing is an emphatic "Yes". Mine growl all the time, usually as a warning. Frequently that doesn't have any effect so things escalate to bared teeth and and an attack, which is usually what the game is about -- provoking a chase.

So growling per se may be worrisome or not. Depends on the situation. Growling and teeth may not be worrisome when provoked by pulling the blanket out from under the growler but might be in other circumstances. You just have to figure that out from watching the critters. They'll usually make clear what the deal is.

@eeeefarm the cats definitely have had a harder time adjusting, which would make sense. I’ll definitely focus on being more assertive and having everyone else involved on that adjustment. I appreciate the suggestions

@donc okay, I’ll be sure to look more into it when I notice them starting to interact to see if I can find any missed reaction out of the others. Thank you.

Up until a few months ago, I had 3 Basenji's (2 males/neutered, and 1 female/spayed) plus I had 4 cats, 1 of which never
went outside, 1 was outside with access to kitchen only, other 2 are in and out. My b's and cat's got along. A few months ago, my female crossed the bridge (she was almost 17) and my 2 older cats, 1 was 21 and other was 16 cross within 6 weeks of each other. The female b was the one who would chase and try to kill the cats. It took me quite awhile to get her to accept them, and she did........no more chasing. Now I have 2 male b's and 2 cats, 1 female and 1 male. Yes all my animals are fixed, so you don't need to worry. Mr.T who is going on 9 has taken recently to growling at the cats, especially my male cat, when he walks by. I think the cat may have made a swipe at Mr.T at one time or another, which is why he
now growls at him. Not sure the reason, but he does not chase, does not go beyond the growling.

As eeeefarm mentioned, I would NOT leave the dogs and cats alone together when you are not around. You will never
know what can happen. Chihuahua's .......yappers, and go getter's. They like to instantgate trouble. Sweet dogs for the
most part, but with that "big dog mentality" is also cause for concern. Put a leash on the b and let her drag it throughout
the house, if a chase is to start, you can step on the leash, to stop it, also saying a very firm NO! B's are stubborn and bull
headed and they need to know who the boss of the house is. Don't let it be the basenji or the chihuahua!!! T 0_1567207952956_Mr.T, Peeve, Zak.jpg 0_1567207970825_Mr.T and Girl cat.jpg The first photo Peeve (21 year old cat) is washing Mr.T's face. Second photo is of Mr.T and GurlCat. Can't seem to find the one of Mr.T and Groucho (who is the cat Mr.T will growl cat). But as you can see, they do get long.

last edited by basenjimom2

I have a six-year-old Basenji male, a 7 pound toy fox terrier male, and a big male cat. My Basenji also enjoys chasing and pinning the cat. My cat hates it so I have put a stop to it. I use baby gates and I kennel my Basenji when they are in the same room. I refuse to have our cat terrorized because of the Basenji‘s cat and mouse game. Our cat is not nearly as stressed since I have kept on top of this I also keep a can of rocks that I shake when the Basenji begins his stare down. They are not left alone together . I love the Basenji but unfortunately I cannot trust him. It is part of the breed. He goes in the kennel when I have to leave the house.

@basenjimom2 okay, I’ll get a 20’ lead and attach that! Thank you!

@salemsockmonkey I know that look you’re talking about–mine gets it! I will look into getting something to shake up for her attention when needed!

@madisbasenji1 said in Basenjis: Growling and Chasing:

... this chihuahua ... and my basenji will chase one another for an hour at a time and constantly bite and push at one another. My basenji loves to grab the chihuahua’s scruff and pin her down, but she’s never actually attacked the pup.

This is just playtime -- my "doodle" and the other dogs (her size) do this at the dog park and just have a blast. They aren't actually biting. There is no blood, and each one gives as much as gets. It's like they are playing a game of "tag". There are times when I put a stop to it, calling doodle's name and then a command, either "stop" (if everyone is getting too rough) or "gentle" (if she's playing with a smaller, or more submissive dog). She is really good about it.

I think your basenji may be trying to get your cat(s) to play the same game, but we all know cats don't play like that. Almost sweet that she starts grooming them when she catches them. Almost. I would probably be apprehensive, but you've watched them for three years -- so my concerns may not be warranted at all.

My chihuahua always growls (not in a mean way), even if the basenji is just simply walking past her. It leads me to believe that my basenji is taking on growling as a form of communication for when she’s attempting to play with the cat (as my chihuahua does with her).

I agree, your basenji has learned this behavioir. But if you want to succeed in teaching the Basenji not to growl, you also need to teach the Chihuahua not to growl. Fair is fair and it's not fair to fuss at one dog for doing it and let the other dog get away with it. You don't need a leash. Just your voice. When you see or hear the undesirable behavior you call their name then give them a command. If it's the growling, perhaps "name, hush!", and then "good dog" for listening. You need to use a firm voice, not a whisper, not screeming, but a firm, no nonsense, "hey! stop!".

Does anyone know of any instances of their basenji(s) growling when playing?

Yes, doodle was playing with a big boxer mix (last night) and the boxer was growling during their game of tag. doodle was zipping in and out around the park obstacles and this boxer was never going to catch her, so he would growl if he got close. doodle wasn't growling, the boxer was, but same concept. The boxer wasn't being agressive or warning of and attack, they were just having fun. When they stopped running to catch their breath -- zero animosity between these two.

Which is much like what I'm thinking is happening at your home, when the game ends, they all get along... because it's just a game.

I agree with elbrant....If you want growling behavior to cease, you must correct it in BOTH dogs. Basenji are very good at learning from their humans AND from other dogs. I had a purebred Basenji that taught herself to make a reasonable imitation of a bark-she learned from the other dogs at the dog park!!!! I would make a really concerted effort with the chihua-once she starts to curtail HER growling, I have a feeling you will see less from your Basenji, too.

Listen to your gut feeling. Stop any behaviour that you're not happy with, eeefarm makes a good suggestion to enforce the stop command by having a lead attached that you can step on when necessary. Your B may just be copying by growling but remember she may not! Yes, Basenjis will growl as they play but the meaning is usually fairly obvious when you watch or listen carefully. It appears that you have quite a complicated series of events - try to deal with one thing at a time but always be on the alert. As others have advised, please don't leave them alone together when you're not there. As you indicate that she has a hard head with the rest of the family this would still apply when you're away. Eventually, with determination you'll obtain equilibrium.

One thing that may have occurred but perhaps gone unnoticed is that the cat or cats, feeling insecure in new surroundings, may have reacted and taken actions, either aggressive or submissive, that changed the dynamic with the Basenji. In any case, caution is always advised even with animals that have coexisted peacefully for some time. If a cat shows disrespect to a dog, it can trigger an unfortunate reaction. My friend's Jack Russell killed a cat it had previously been friendly with, possibly because the cat took a swipe at the dog. Basenjis are not typically as volatile as Russells, but many do not tolerate what they perceive as disrespect.

@eeeefarm

I agree entirely. Moving house upsets most animals and the dynamic can alter so very easily.

@zande said in Basenjis: Growling and Chasing:

Moving house upsets most animals

While I agree with this, I'm confused... I didn't see anything in the OP that indicated the household had moved. (?)

@elbrant said in Basenjis: Growling and Chasing:

@zande said in Basenjis: Growling and Chasing:

Moving house upsets most animals

While I agree with this, I'm confused... I didn't see anything in the OP that indicated the household had moved. (?)

How about this? " I just moved recently and she’s back into the entire chase and pin motion with the cats."

@eeeefarm LOL, I was looking too hard.

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.