New (adult) basenji biting

Give it a little time. At 3 1/2 years old, moving to a new home is likely to be a difficult experience and it will take time for her to trust you, and to understand that this is a permanent change in her life. My boy Perry, who I adopted at 3 years old, bit me the day he arrived! And I had a couple of other incidents with him early on. I got the definite impression that he felt he was "just visiting", and it was the better part of a year before he seemed to be truly at home. Not that he went around biting people, but I was careful after that first incident that I did nothing that could feel threatening to him. He turned out to be a wonderful dog.

What is your dog's history? Has she been bounced around a lot, or just in one home up till now? If the latter, she may be quite confused at this turn of events.

Sorry to hear you're having this issue. I'll second or third the idea of giving the dog some time and space. And it would be helpful to know the history.

In the meantime, just stick with food and avoid trying to play. Play can be mis-interpreted as aggression. Also cut the dog some slack. If someone grabbed you out of your home and stuck you somewhere else you might have some issues as well. These guys are not cardboard cut-outs.

I would say that biting with strangers can be an issue for the breed though most of the time it's not. Keep in mind that being friendly with strangers in an African village is not going to be a survival skill. Ordinarily there isn't a problem but if people think a Basenji is going to act like a Golden Retriever, and behave as if they will, that's when problems can occur. That's the intersection of a clueless person and a nervous Basenji. As the dog figures out that you can be trusted it's unlikely you will have an issue. But be careful when introducing new people into the mix. (Which BTW is what is happening now).

@tanza She is from a breeder. She has a history of being shy and has snapped at a stranger once before, but is usually very loving towards her breeder.

@donc Thank you for your insight. I am giving her time and space, but I live in a big city and worry about what will happen when we go on walks (as you said, a Basenji is not like a Golden Retriever, but most people walking on the street don't know that).

@eeeefarm She was just in one home. She was in a few shows, but was too shy, which is why her breeder was seeking to rehome. It's encouraging to know that someone else's b went from biting to loving!

@jchung said in New (adult) basenji biting:

@eeeefarm She was just in one home. She was in a few shows, but was too shy, which is why her breeder was seeking to rehome. It's encouraging to know that someone else's b went from biting to loving!

Thanks for filling in the blanks. This girl is likely very confused, missing her breeder, and the familiarity of being in a setting she is used to. It's likely she's had multiple dogs around, and all of a sudden she has lost her friends, her humans, and finds herself with strangers. Of course she will be confused and upset about the situation! Give her time, don't force things, let her come to you, and be as "matter of fact" as you can. Fussing over her will not be helpful, let her approach you on her terms except for when you must take the initiative. And make sure others in your household respect her space. With a little time, this situation will resolve, but you can cause a problem if you push to have her accept you.

@eeeefarm Thank you. I'm trying my best to keep her comfortable and will just have to wait and see.

I pulled a 3 yr old basenji from Animal Control. He promptly bit my husband on the leg quite severely when husband reached down to pet the dog... because the dog was a rescue, we had no past history. We learned that the basenji must have been grabbed aggressively by the collar too many times because that was the trigger for a bite. I decided to keep him because I couldn't trust him enough to place him in another home and I didn't want to put him down. It turned out that he never bit anyone else once we figured out what triggered him to bite and we kept him safe until his demise at 14 yrs old. Give your girl time and learn what upsets her. Shy dogs are not easy.

I think you have to work hard at building her confidence. She is feeling displaced at the moment and missing all that has been familiar to her. In these sort of circumstances, a nervous or shy Basenji will often snap out. There is not necessarily any malice - and in this case I doubt there is any at all.

The lass is just totally unsure of herself and of you. She needs her confidence building. When she is sure she can be sure of you, she will cease to snap or bite and show you the affection these animals are capable of.

Good luck -

@jchung said in New (adult) basenji biting:

@donc Thank you for your insight. I am giving her time and space, but I live in a big city and worry about what will happen when we go on walks (as you said, a Basenji is not like a Golden Retriever, but most people walking on the street don't know that).

Well you can use this to your advantage. Once your dog settles in and is comfortable with you, ask a friend or neighbor, preferably someone comfortable with dogs, if they would be willing to give your girl some treats that she likes. Start inside and then move outside. In this way your dog starts seeing strangers as a good food source and not a threat. When she's comfortable doing this, try it with strangers when you go on a walk or to a new place -- say a farmer's market. Just be clear when asking to tell them what you're doing.

From what the breeder has said she's just a shy dog who is having trouble adjusting to such a new situation. I'm sure she'll turn into a lover. Shy dogs often do.

I am not gonna sugar coat this....
If you are that worried with him around new people or strangers use a soft muzzles, especially when near small children.
A cloth muzzle protects you both. It’s seems to settle them down and they are unable to bite. It’s not meant to be used often, the less the better. They can drink, they can open their mouth some, but they cannot bite. I am sure that over time your B will relax with you in your home and around visitors....always fore warn strangers visiting, it might be startling to them but it is better than them getting a bite. I am at the point I use it almost never.....If we go out with my B we use it, when visiting the vet, we use it, when very young children are around we use it"........if we are walking where there is a possibility he will get a startle...I use it.
I am sure there will be somebody on here that will disagree, but I do what I have to do to protect me, my dog and people around me

Take this as a positive thing so that both of you can be comfortable in all situations.

last edited by Sandy Hovis

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