Greatly in need of advice/support re: new puppy is biting me

  • Hello -
    I am a first-time Basenji owner, and desperately seeking help with our new puppy. He is now 11 weeks old, and is a very
    sweet and loving dog in all ways but one. Despite the constant (and very consistent) amount of comforting, kisses, praise and cuddling we give him, he continues to bite me very hard, breaking my skin. Additionally, he attacks my hair, pulling it and refusing to let go - he's a strong little guy and it really hurts !!!
    I am not sure exactly what to do...he is just a puppy, and I don't want to yell at him. I do tell him firmly to "STOP", but to no avail. To make matters worse, he does not do this to my husband.

    Has anyone else ever experienced this situation ? If so, how did you deal with it/improve it ??

    Thanks in advance -


  • Very typical, how old was he when you got him? And you need to continue to be consistent, like house training. Remember that he has puppy teeth, they are very sharp. You need to "yelp" loudly when he bites to hard (remember mouthing/biting is how he would communicate with his littermates)... and stop/remove yourself/the puppy. AND YES you do want to "yell" at him. That is what his littemates would do.

  • Not unusual for a puppy, especially if he was removed from his litter mates and mother earlier than should have happened, because he may not have learned to inhibit his bite. I am going to differ with Tanza here, as I often find "yelping" to deter this behaviour may instead reinforce it. Think "squeaky toy". If you try that and it works, great. If not, then try something else. Personally I do not allow any dog to bite me with impunity. With a pup, I would restrain him until he quits it (as his mother would do, typically by holding him down with a paw and snarling in his face!). You don't need to be quite that dramatic, but if he bites, tell him "no" sternly, and gently but firmly hold him still until he stops trying to bite. He may struggle. Do not let him go while he is doing this. As soon as he quits and relaxes, release him and praise him. If he goes right back to biting, repeat. He needs to learn there are consequences to his actions that he won't like. And don't give him a chance to get at your hair! Head that off before it happens, with a "no" and physically prevent him from grabbing it.

    You need to pay attention with a pup. The best strategy is to stop an action before it really begins, so observe his behaviour and when you can see he is thinking about doing something you don't want, try to redirect his actions to something "legal", like one of his toys. Prevention is better than having to discipline. Good luck! (puppies usually do outgrow the mouthy stage, but you do not want nipping or biting to become a habit.)

  • wash your hands in a smelly soap.

  • Give him a substitute like a appropriate thing to chew be consistent and say no take away the “bad” object and give him something els in return I’ve also heard of people saying OUCH!!! Really load as if he really hurt you instead of no

  • OK. Not to be mean, but as others have said, it's what puppies do. I think of it as charming and it's what puppies do. Don't worry that you have a super aggressive dog.

    The problem with the bites is knowing how hard to bite is a learned behavior. Usually they figure that out with their littermate, though they may have been separated too soon. And no doubt their littermate have tougher hides than you or I. Some people have said you get good results by yelling when you get bitten and stopping the play. That's pretty much how it works in the litter. I've never tried that. I've usually gone the glove route (the smelly soap idea may have merit as well). .

    This may sound crazy but I'll say it anyway: He'll grow out of both the biting and the hair pulling and you may look back on these days fondly.

  • First: any time he bite you scream loud, bite for dogs at young age is normal, but as owners we need to help them to calibrate the power of their bites, cause they play like that with their pack, but when you make them understand that they are hurting you, they will start to do it less strong, and the same time you scream show them a toy in exchange, so they understand that is with toys that he can play with you. Basenjis needs a lot of toys, especially as puppies, and a I mean “a lot of toys” and put them in a special place for them, like a toy chest, so they know where to find thinks to play with you, instead of your arm. But remenber make a big deal when he bite you, and is not yelled at them, no, cause basenjis you can’t talk to them in a bad way, is just scream like he hurt you so much, he will get it and I bet you that in no time if he continue to do it, he will doi it more softly.

  • Each basenji is different, and what works for one may not work on another. When Tim was a puppy, and he would bite too hard, whatever we were doing STOPPED immediately, I would stand up, fold my arms in front of me, AND turn my back on him, and in a very low voice say, ‘ohhh nooo puppy...’ Tim hated being ignored by me, more than anything in his world.

  • If other recommendations fail, bop him on the nose. You’re not hurting him; it doesn’t have to be hard, just enough to surprise him and send the message that this isn’t acceptable behavior. Accompany with a firm “no” so that he gets what “no” actually means. his littermates, mom, and other dogs would give a warning snarl and snap in this situation - we don’t have that, so a quick bop on the nose is the next best thing

    whatever action you take needs to be motivational enough for him to stop the behavior. Yelping or ignoring him might be all it takes to do the trick and if so, that’s fantastic. But if he isn’t fazed by that (my basenji wasn’t when she was a puppy), you need to up the ante in order to send the message that this behavior isn’t appropriate.

  • I disagree with the "bop" on the nose... "screaming" does the job BUT you need to do this each and every time and then ignore him. Also if he is not doing this with your husband, he also when this happens MUST ignore the pup. And by the way have you spoken with his breeder?

  • I have one objection to the "yelp" advice. Yes, sometimes it will work, sometimes it will not. However, this approach sends the message that you are a "litter mate", you are not "mom". In other words, the message you are conveying to the pup is that he is your equal, and you are not his superior to whom he must pay attention. So I guess it depends on what status you wish to assume.

  • Hi eeeefarm, I have to disagree... Mom's will do the same thing or any other adults in the home along with their littermates. I have never had this issue with "yelping" at pups... adults do the same... at least in all the litters I have raised in 30+ years

  • Maybe it is breed specific, and I have raised no Basenji litters, so I will bow to your greater experience, but I have certainly observed bitches of other breeds disciplining their offspring if they get too rough. Litter mates may yelp, but if they are dominant they may also growl and put the offender in their place, particularly with older pups. From observation I would say that yelping on its own implies submission. My experience has been mostly with pups older than 8 weeks.....and pups from larger breeds. Very young pups seem to have more "immunity", certainly from adults, but as they get older the adults become less tolerant and more inclined to put the pup in its place when things get out of hand. (horses are similar, many foals have teethmarks in their rumps put there by their own dams.....usually geldings are more tolerant than mares!)

    With my own 7 year old bitch, she was tolerant of 7 week old Tamu when she arrived and mostly avoided her for the first week, but once she began to play with her, she would snarl and pin the pup down if play got too rough. I never heard her yelp at any time.

  • I just have the one Basenji, but yelping growling did not work with him. Shunning did...I would say "not bite" very firming and in a fairly loud voice and deliberately fold my arms and turn my back on him. Sometimes he would would try to get to my front and I would keep turning. I just did this for a few seconds until he got the point. Now he had learned to "shun" me if he doesn't like something I have done (chuckle). I also sprayed my clothing with bitter apple...that deterred and has helped greatly.He now only grabs my arms when he is trying to get me to go someplace or do something like my toy is under the sofa. He no longer breaks the skin but sometimes does leave a bruise mark. He is 6 months, so still learning.

  • @eeeefarm - Hi eeeefarm, when I said "yelp" it is as in "YELL" at the pups... and as you said, put them in their place.

  • @tanza said in Greatly in need of advice/support re: new puppy is biting me:

    @eeeefarm - Hi eeeefarm, when I said "yelp" it is as in "YELL" at the pups... and as you said, put them in their place.

    It's interesting and educational to see how much control some bitches have of their pups. I ran across this video that really demonstrates what I was trying to convey when I said you want to be "mom", not a sibling....put them "in their place" indeed!

  • My Rosa was an excellent mother, and disciplined the pups as needed-
    except for her last litter - a litter of 1.
    That little guy, my Captain, ruled his momma from about day 5! As an adult, after our usual training of 'you do not rule in this house' he is the nicest dog. Even after neutering, he gets along with all the girls as long as they smell him whenever he enters the room, and somehow signal to him that he's so very handsome. It's kind of a joke around here.

    ('you do not rule in this house' - there is no harsh treatment, but there are subtle, loving ways to teach them this)

  • Hi everyone!

    New Basenji owner here from Melbourne, Australia.

    I know this topic is a couple of months old but I thought I'd just add my experience for anyone else needing help with puppy biting.

    My wife and I had been having mouthing/biting trouble with our (now) 12-week old pup for the last week.

    The behavior has improved almost instantly by following the advice in this video.

    She's still pretty mouthy but it doesn't escalate the way it did before when we'd try and stop her from doing it/yelping/saying '"NO". I think everything we were doing was just turning it into the funnest game ever for her!

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