Dog Behaviorist/Trainer needed

  • Has anyone in the Cincinnati or Dayton area of Ohio hired a successful dog trainer for your basenji? My B within the past year has become aggressive to other dogs and some people. I do not know what caused it and it needs to stop before someone is seriously hurt. I have already hired a dog trainer that had hundreds of 5 star reviews and he made no difference on my dog. I am scared of wasting my money again. If you know of anyone please let me know! I really need help with him.

  • I can't help you find a trainer, but it might be useful to describe in more detail what you are dealing with. Many on this forum have had similar issues and might have useful suggestions. How old is your dog? Dog aggressive Basenjis are not unusual. Some are same sex aggressive, some don't differentiate. Aggression to humans is less common and more worrisome. The circumstances in which your dog is aggressive might provide some clues as to what is causing the change in behaviour and lead to possible solutions. Trainers unfamiliar with Basenjis may well do more harm than good.

  • IMHO, a "Dog Trainer's job" is not to teach the dog how to behave, but to teach the dog's owner how to get the dog to behave in the manner they want it to. Almost everything I learned (over the years) relates to the energy that the dog perceives from it's owner. In other words, if you are relaxed, the dog is as well. If you are tense, the dog senses that tension.

    If your dog is misbehaving when another dog passes by on a walk, then stop before they cross paths, put your foot down on the leash (so your dog cannot do much more than sit or lay down). Give your dog a command, "stay", "wait", "easy" (whatever you prefer). Praise your dog. As the other dog approaches, repeat the command in a calm voice, alternating with praise. Since your dog is on a short leash and your weight holds the leash more securely than your hand and arm, your dog shouldn't be able to lunge at the approaching dog. If Boone is growling, repeat the command or just say "no". Perhaps, "no, easy"... "good dog". Your dog may be stressed the first couple of times. If you feel like you need to, crouch down and pet your dog. Do not hold your dog back! Just pet and praise. Let them know you are both "ok".

    It will get easier. Some of the primary things to focus on is your own anxiety about the situation and your confidence that you can be in control of your dog. It's okay to tell the other dog owner that your dog is a little territorial, you are working on it, and that you are not comfortable introducing the dogs to eachother just yet. (i.e.; Please keep walking)

    I feel like this is a good place to start. Training classes may be worthwhile, but remember, they are meant to train you how to interact with your dog, not to turn your dog into the perfect pet.

  • Finding the right trainer with the right philosophy is important (regardless of the breed). With a situation as yours, you need a trainer who is schooled in BAT (behavior adjustment training) not just an obedience trainer; and of course someone who follows positive reinforcement training. Ask for references from their students if necessary.
    I once had a trainer who billed herself as a behaviorist but really she was just an obedience person and believed in yanking on prong collars (I quit after half the class).

    There is also an excellent online program for reactive dogs at:
    Look under Classes, then discipline and behavior. I took the "Dealing with the Bogeyman" class. Even though its all online, it made a BIG difference with my reactive male. I highly recommend it.

  • Did you get the pup from a friend of a kennel ? If so, ask them if anything happen when they had him. It might help you find out why is like that and help those whom you seek out for help.
    [removed email address]

  • I would really need help on this as well. Our Basenji, female, almost ten years old, has an increasing tension around kids, some adults, and other dogs - especially female. I am aware my own tension rubs off, but it is pretty hard not to feel tense after seeing her attack other dogs and growl as well as showing her teeth to our kids' friends as soon as they look at her. She used to be able to play with dogs, and she used to be ok with kids playing in her presence. If she were disturbed, she used to go into antoher room. Now it is almost as she seeks the conflict, walking up to kids and adults with her back ridge raised, waiting for a sign (or my tension) to strike.

  • My Kembe was great around all dogs - she went to doggie school and did extremely well w/ interacting w/ other dogs. It was not until she was attacked by a dog that was off lease that she is now on DEFENSE MODE around other dogs. There are dogs that she does like, there are dogs that she tolerates, and there are dogs that she absolutely wants to KILL. I can sympathize and understand your concern.

  • @elbrant said in Dog Behaviorist/Trainer needed:

    IMHO, a "Dog Trainer's job" is not to teach the dog how to behave, but to teach the dog's owner

    You are absolutely right ! The job of the trainer is to teach the owner !!!! The owner, if properly taught and if he/she takes heed of the teaching, will be capable of handling the dog.

  • @boonesmom How old is the dog? Male or female? Were there any signs of aggression prior to this? How long have you had the dog? Has anything changed recently? Have you had the dogs health tested? Five stars means nothing for a dog trainer / behaviorist, especially with a rare and unusual dog like a basenji.

  • @sofie-elvestedt If she did not have problems prior to getting older, I would suspect health issues first before behavior. It is possible she is not feeling well, has fading eyesight or hearing, or has a thyroid problem. Start with a visit to the vet, explain the problem and have a full blood panel with thyroid before anything.

  • @elbrant I didn’t mean to imply that I want a dog trainer to make my dog behave. I am just trying to say that I need help. I need someone to guide me.

  • @wizard thank you! I will look into it.

  • @dagodingo said in Dog Behaviorist/Trainer needed:

    Start with a visit to the vet, explain the problem and have a full blood panel with thyroid before anything.

    Dagodingo has the right of it.

    Go to the Vet - first port of call. Make absolutely sure there is nothing wrong which is causing your Basenji to turn crabby. Once you have eliminated any/all possibilities of 'discomfort' - loss of hearing, sight, something affecting general well being - then ask yourself if there have been any changes to lifestyle. Someone new in the household, someone lacking in the household.

    It can be quite a small thing, but it could upset the equilibrium especially in an elderly Basenji.

    But then reply to some of the questions -

    @dagodingo said in Dog Behaviorist/Trainer needed:

    How old is the dog? Male or female? Were there any signs of aggression prior to this? How long have you had the dog?

    so this forum can start to suggest things other than trainers - at the moment these seem to me to be inappropriate

  • @dagodingo he’s a 2 year old male. He was not aggressive at all the first year. In the beginning of this year we moved and then shorty after his best dog friend that we would see almost every day died. A few months later we got a new puppy. There is not one single moment I can recall he became aggressive. It has been a progressing problem throughout this year. It started with growling at people and then he decided that he hates the neighbors dog and growls at him every time he sees him but will eventually warm up and play with him. Most recently he has started snapping at people. Never me and actually I’m almost never around when he escalates.He has had his health tested a couple of months ago and everything was normal. I was hoping to find someone with Basenji experience to help me.

  • A new puppy is frequently a trigger for aggressive behavior. The reason might depend on whom the aggression is directed towards. The puppy? Threats to the puppy? Acute general unhappiness?

    To some extent the reason doesn't matter. You don't want an overly aggressive dog. He can of course be trained, assuming there isn't a biological issue. It's all about reinforcement. If he gives you behaviors you want he gets rewarded. If he doesn't he doesn't.

    While this is how it works, the trick is how to implement this. A good trainer should be able to show you how to implement this. I'm not a trainer but this will involve rewarding/treating when he's not aggressive and withholding when he is. Here's a funny video of how a bad dog trainer would go about getting a behavior you don't want -- lots of yelling and pulling leading to exactly the behavior you don't want. The point here is that I've seen a lot of owners do some variation of this. Not as extreme but along these lines.

  • @boonesmom said in Dog Behaviorist/Trainer needed:

    @dagodingo he’s a 2 year old male. He was not aggressive at all the first year. In the beginning of this year we moved and then shorty after his best dog friend that we would see almost every day died. A few months later we got a new puppy.

    He has had a lot of changes in his life at a time when he is maturing. 18 months to 2 years is typically the age when dogs start to show intolerance or aggression to other dogs if they are going to, and the major changes in his life may have exacerbated this. Snapping at people is more worrisome than growling at other dogs. You say you usually are not around when this happens. Do you know the circumstances, or is it random? Resource guarding is a frequent reason for dogs becoming aggressive to humans. Regardless, this needs to be addressed before it escalates to biting. There is likely a trigger for the behaviour and you need to discover what it is.

  • Poor boy. Dogs pine over the loss of a buddy, Basenjis are no different - my Hoover is a very lonely little girl since she lost her half-brother and soulmate back in July. Additionally the new puppy will have caused more upheaval and change.

    His aggression is not good, but it is very understandable and you have to figure out what triggers it in particular. And then try to avoid situation which don't help and reinforce good behaviour.

    Above all, never let him become jealous of the new puppy.

  • @boonesmom said in Dog Behaviorist/Trainer needed:

    I am just trying to say that I need help

    Perhaps you should return to the trainer you had the first time. Explain that you are not seeing any improvement and that you would like some advice (or a refresher class). You have already paid them once... if you aren't seeing any results then (I would think) advice should be free and a refresher class should either be free (or come at a steep discount).

    Essentially, your goal is to have the trainer observe how you handle the dog and how the dog reacts when other dogs approach, ideally, in a public place -- not in the trainer's work area and not at your home or in a place where your dog is used to. You want to recreate the circumstances when the unwanted behavior occurs in an unstaged, natural encounter. The trainer should be able to assist you in correcting how you engage and communicate with your dog during future encounters. After that, it's practice and repitition.

  • @boonesmom Two years is a time when they are reaching full maturity, so it is not unusual to have problems with them challenging at that age. When you say you are not around when it happens, that is a good sign. Many do not have the correct authority and understanding of dog body language / posture. It suggests the dog respects your authority.

    Some dogs can be difficult, others can become more difficult as they mature past two. Usually by 7-8 they become more easy going, although not always. Dogs have a pack mentality, changes make a difference to their structure. The more you keep to a routine and structure, the better they usually respond.

    The other possibility is that the dog doesn’t have enough exercise / mental stimulation. Basenjis are one of the geniuses of the dog world. Without enough mental stimulation and walks they can become bored, which can lead to aggression / frustration.

    If there is someone else with basenjis in your area, they might be able to help. I doubt most trainers / behaviorist would help to be honest. Also, walking the dog for at least 3-5 miles a day over three or four walks and keeping a good structure to the day might solve the problems.

  • Assuming you have eliminated a health issue ...

    Teach him the "Look At Me" trick. If you have a training center nearby (maybe one that is hosting an agility trial or obedience trial or one that will let you watch a class) go and just sit with him, away from the other participants, and watch the other dog students. The second he looks at another dog, toss a treat in front of his face. If he is very aggressive you will need to start with him in a crate. Keep him in the crate and toss the treat in whenever another dog comes near or when he notices another dog. Do this several times; pretty soon he will start glancing at the other dog and then looking at you for more treats on his own. This is what you want; reward it. Soon you will stop rewarding for looking at the other dog and only reward when he looks back at you. He will catch on that it's okay to look at another dog but he must focus on you if he wants a treat and you must treat him generously for this.

    I have a male that was attacked several times and became very "my space" protective/aggressive. It took awhile (and the Fenzi classes I mentioned previously) but he is now fairly calm after working through this.

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