Bad behavior

Hi, I have an 11 year old male. Recently his behavior has gotten worse. There’s been a few life changes but even prior to that he was acting out. So he does ok with myself snd my teenagers and the boarder. About 6 months ago he bit my boyfriends arm when he went to reach for something the dog got out of the trash. He drew blood and it left a pretty bad mark. A few months ago we moved into a small place inside a building do have to walk him anytime he wants out snd there are several neighbors in the building. We had one incident where walking in he reached up and tried to bite a neighbors shorts. Another incident a short time ago when a male friend was sitting by him and I on the coach and he tried to nip him and then just today after going outside we were walking g in the building a teen boy was coming out snd he went after him and bit him in the leg. The boy said he was ok but I’m not sure how hard he tried to bite down. I think some of these things could be dominance or resource guarding but I’m not sure how to fix it. I’m home with the dog all day. I can’t be on edge every time we get close to someone. For the time I’ve put his dog bed on the floor do he can’t be up high. Any suggestions?

@tangokor said in Bad behavior:

I can’t be on edge every time we get close to someone. Any suggestions?

Hi tangkor, you’re going to have to be alert (on edge) every time he gets close to someone he doesn’t know. Don’t let your guard down. This could escalate into an expensive situation. And, one that might force decisions you don’t want to make.

I’d keep him on a very short lead while inside the building. I’d also not let him anywhere near people, especially children, while in hallways, doorways, stairs-wells , elevators, etc. I might even consider a muzzle.

Seems like he’s become very fearful. I’d have his eyes checked. He may also be in pain and that could be making him grumpy. I’d have a vet do a complete exam.

Stay tuned... others will step in soon who know more than I do. I get your frustration. Keep him safe and those around him till you get this figured out.

last edited by JENGOSMonkey

he could just be really fearful of his situation. My Izzy bites from fear, I have to introduce him carefully to people then he is Ok, Because of bad treatment from the original vet we had , I have to muzzle him when we go to the current vet because he is so scared, after we are there awhile the current vet takes the muzzle off and he is ok. Fear is a big part of why a lot of dogs bite. A muzzle may be a good thing to protect him and yourself from liabilities. They make nice simple muzzles now, and many different types.

Some good advice here. Older dogs often do poorly with change. My last boy Perry became aggressive with strangers after my husband became ill and we had nurses coming in to care for him. I'm sure in Perry's eyes they were a threat, and gradually he became untrustworthy around strangers. Particularly when they were leaving (perhaps he wanted to make sure they actually left?)

I agree that a muzzle might be the best insurance against having something really dire happening, especially as he has already bitten several times. A vet visit is also in order, as chronic pain can cause behavioural changes. The other factor could be related to the thyroid, so you want to check whether things are normal there, bearing in mind that Basenjis can have aggression issues with low thyroid level.

Thanks, talked to the boys mom And he’s ok, just got a little frightened. He also has a slight eye fog which affects his peripheral vision snd I wonder if he got spooked since both times it was someone on that side.

@tangokor said in Bad behavior:

He also has a slight eye fog which affects his peripheral vision....

It sounds like Cataracts. I just underwent Cataract Surgery and the "fog" can completely block your vision. So, if you know that your dogs vision is compromised, then it's up to you to protect him from any sudden movement on that side. I

Steer your dog around people and objects using his "good side". If the cataract is in his right eye, then walk down the hall with his right side along the wall and his left eye getting a better view of his surroundings. If the left eye is damaged, make sure that side of his body is parallel with the wall. If someone is approaching and trying to get around on that side of his body, ask them to wait a minute because he has lost his vision on that side.

Don't protect other people from your dog. Protect your dog by anticipating events that would trigger a fear reaction (due to his vision loss). It would take a particularly heartless human to not understand, or not be willing to give your pup a little leeway.

First of all I would take him to the vet and make sure there is no physical ailment that is bothering him and causing him to do this. I myself have had biters but they displayed this at an early age not as they got older. I know as they age they are tender in spots and don’t like to be picked up because things hurt them so that may be what he is going through. I agree keep him on a very short leash when you are walking him around any people or any other dogs for that matter. It could be his Eyesight and he is biting out of fear. Please take him to the vet and have them checked out completely.

@elbrant
Thank you, it’s not a cataract it’s some other eye defect they had checked out when he was a puppy. They said it might affect the peripheral vision but didn’t know for sure. The hard thing about this is when I’m entering my back door I can’t always tell If someone is there or coming out. I think my best option is going to be a muzzle. When I’m outside it’ll be easy to control but not through the narrow passage ways of my building.

@tangokor said in Bad behavior:

I think my best option is going to be a muzzle.

If you go that route, and I think it's wise, he likely will initially object to the muzzle. Get one that is comfortable for him but protects from biting, and introduce it as a good thing that gets him treats and is a signal you are going for a walk (assuming he likes walks). If you can manage to make it a signal of positive experiences it will help a great deal, but don't expect instant cooperation.....he will try to get it off! BTW, what do you use to walk him? I hope it is a collar, not a harness. IMO, a martingale collar gives you the best control over his head.

last edited by eeeefarm

First course should always be Vet visit and make sure to have blood work done including a full Thyroid panel not just the one that is done with regular blood work. And that includes a complete eye exam by a board certified eye specialist.

So much of his environment has changed. He has to be taken out to pee and defecate, so many strangers. I wouldn't advise a muzzle - you can't make him suffer any more than he would appear to be after these changes. Vigilance and care, lots of love and reassurance. He will not forgive a muzzle.

He is becoming an old man, his sight may be going. Nothing is normal any more. He has lost confidence.

You have to get him to the Vet for a thorough going over, bloods etc, and an eye specialist. Then you have to work at building his confidence in his new situation. Be patient with him and try to avoid any confrontational meetings.

Don't change your attitude or behaviour towards him. He needs stability.

@zande said in Bad behavior:

So much of his environment has changed. He has to be taken out to pee and defecate, so many strangers. I wouldn't advise a muzzle - you can't make him suffer any more than he would appear to be after these changes.

Normally I would agree, but he has already bitten and attempted to bite several times. My concern is that he will bite the wrong person and then there will be no options. If tangokor is sure of being able to control the dog and is vigilant, then yes, best not to muzzle if the dog can be prevented from biting, as the muzzle is likely to upset him. And definitely a visit to the vet to rule out physical causes....

@tangokor My first Basenji, Jengo, was never comfortable around many other dogs. He tolerated some at best. Following his stroke he lost eyesight in one eye and became aggressive around ALL other dogs. Our days at the dog park were over. When walking him in the neighborhood I'd cross the street, or pull completely off the path and wait if there were another dog walking towards us. Sometimes the other owner might say "Oh, don't worry. He's friendly." I'd respond "I'm sorry. Mine's not. He's blind in one eye and really fearful of other dogs. His first instinct will be to attack yours." They'd always give us room. He also became a bit aggressive towards the owner of another dog regardless if the dog was with her or not. The dog was black, the owner always wore black, maybe her clothes smelled like her dog... don't know. I kept Jengo completely away from her after the first time he went after her.

It was a lot of work to look after him and keep him safe after his stroke. So much had changed, but that was the deal I made when I agreed to take him. At least it was in my mind. I made a commitment. I owed it to him.

Another thought... A close friend recently sent me a Blog Article written by Jennifer Malawey, who is dog behaviorist and trainer. The post is titled Someone's Going To Get Bitten. I think it's a good idea for all of us to read this and think about how we might treat our pups. I tease my dogs from time to time. Hadn't really considered how that might affect them. After all, I'm just playing. Or, maybe not? You might think about what was happening and how people might have been treating your dog just before he bit... Might not have anything to do with it, but still... it's worth considering.

@jengosmonkey
Good article - I especially liked this paragraph -“ What I want instead is for my dog to trust me, to know that I respect their boundaries, and to know that I will advocate for and protect them. To have this type of relationship with an animal is a bazillion times more rewarding. And at least as much fun.”

@eeeefarm
It is a martingale, never have used a harness. I did get a muzzle but it’s not fitting so back to the store to try again. He wasn’t terrible when I was putting it on him. Just tried to eat it like everything else.

@jengosmonkey
Great advice! Now that you mention it, this neighbor has a dog that Tango can smell every time we go in the hallway. I’m sure the boy also smelled like the dog. Another thing that happened a couple months ago is the mother of a dog owner in the building was walking two dogs and couldn’t manage it, the small dog got away and came after him and he was not having it. I thought the worst was about to happen.

@tangokor Here's a Gentle Leader Training video. Go to 3:47. If your pup does display hesitancy towards the muzzle, this Gentle Leader training technique might help turn wearing the muzzle into a positive thing. Really hope you're successful and you're pup's stress is conquered.

last edited by JENGOSMonkey

@jengosmonkey So you ARE a convert to the Gentle Leader !!!!

Mine now stays at home - no more need of it with Mku. But it will come out again as a training device for the next puppy !

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