Social aggression issues

All,

As the title states, my 4 yr old basenji has kind of always been aggressive to other dogs, but lately it has gotten worse. For instance, she will be laying on the couch next to us, and when my other dog walks even remotely close to her, she starts to growl. She has attacked my other dog a few times and my siblings dogs a handful of times. As far as we know, she’s healthy. She had a check up a few months ago and she was fine. Just recently, she attacked my brothers shih tzu and the poor dog got so freaked out from the attack, she vomited everywhere. She’s getting worse and we’re not sure what to do. We obviously love her and want to keep her, but she’s acting out more and more and I’m not trying to have to find a dog sitter for only her when we visit my relatives. Any advice is appreciated.

@cram22 Did you have a full thyroid panel done? Not just the typical done by normal blood work? Full Thyroid panels are sent out for testing ... and if that is OK then I would suggest you that hire a behaviorist to help. And also have you spoken to her breeder? (if you know)

last edited by tanza

We need more information, please:

  1. How old was your dog when they started doing this?
  2. What do you do when she starts growling at (any) other dog?
  3. What was your reaction when your dog attacked your brothers dog?
  4. Do these dogs all share the same home?
  5. Was your brother (and his dog) visiting?
    a) Do they visit often?
    b) Have the dogs played well together in the past?
  6. Where you (and your dog) visiting your brother/mother/etc?
    a) Has your dog been there before?
    b) Is your dog familiar with the family, or was this one of the first times he was there?
  7. Does your dog growl and attack other dogs in any other situation, or was this a first time incident?

The good news is if you find a decent dog trainer -- easier said than done BTW -- you should be able to sort this out.

Where I am we get a fair number of Chihuahua rescues from Mexico and those guys can be aggressive. First the breed is fairly aggressive and then they haven't had the most secure upbringing.

We've know two or three couples who have brought two of these guys into the house and had a lot of aggression problems, We're talking about much more and much more heightened aggression than what you're describing. In all cases they've been able to resolve the aggression issues by working with a trainer. Not sure all of the things they've done but I remember one was shaking a can of coins when the first sign of aggression appeared and another was figuring out the triggers.

In their cases it took quite a bit of work but their situations were a lot more serious than what you're describing. You should be able to take care of it with a little work and some good advice. A lot of these things are learned behaviors so the trick is to get them "unlearned".

As mentioned, consulting with a behaviorist is a good idea. Before allowing anyone to work with your dogs, watch them work with other dogs to see if their style is a good fit for your family.
I would also make sure all are checked thoroughly by a vet, bloodwork (including thyroid testing) included, to make sure that health issues aren't making one or both uncomfortable. I know of times when a basenji sensed a terminal condition before it even showed in bloodwork. Is everyone spayed or neutered? If not, going into season may be affecting anyone's behavior.
Set up a safe spot for her that can be just for her. If she likes a crate, that can be acceptable. She might prefer a pen with a dog bed or something similar. This may require two layers of fencing to make sure that she doesn't start a fight through the fence. Go back to basics with training - nothing for free. Leave a leash on her in the house. If she growls while on the furniture with you, escort her calmly to her safe spot - "if you want to growl, you can do it here..." Her safe spot is not a punishment, it's just a designated area where she doesn't have to worry about sharing the space with any other canines.
I've had over 200 basenji fosters and have kept newbies behind a layer or two of fencing while they learn how to behave here. Particularly when the more challenging ones arrive, nothing is for free, including access to human furniture. They get 'their spot' in the house (in their pen where they can still see the others) where they can feel safe and not worry about others bothering them. I build up communication and confidence by starting (or going back to) basic commands with every meal (with food sitting at their feet): sit, stay, leave it (a VERY important command), look at me, eat. When possible, we go for walks together, one human holding the newbie, keeping him or her separate, yet close enough to be aware of the others. The outside world can be a good distraction to keep them from focusing on hating the other. When I introduce (or reintroduce) them to other dogs in a securely fenced yard, I start at times that aren't so exciting - quiet times, nap times, etc., not around feeding time or when we have visitors. It is important to not make a big deal about anything. Have the right thought in your head, but be prepared for a less than perfect response. Expect small improvements each time, but make sure she is set up to improve. Go very slow. Don't rush it. That is when failures happen.
I hope you get her under control quickly.

@donc said in Social aggression issues:

The good news is if you find a decent dog trainer -- easier said than done BTW -- you should be able to sort this out.

There are trainers and there are trainers - and behaviourists among them but please, I beg you, find one with experience of Basenjis.

They are not as other dogs, as we all know - but many trainers don't

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