My vet says my puppy is too aggressive

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My 18 week old does not show any sign of aggression at home. I have been taking him to training classes since 10 weeks old. The only problem I had prior to training was his biting. I have taken him to the groomers twice so far and both times I've asked how he behaves so that his trainer is aware of anything we need to work on. They have told me he does pull away, growl and try to bite but she says its nothing out of the ordinary when a puppy is in fear. I took him to the vet and the last two times she is telling me that I need to neuter him earlier than she usually advises at 5 months because she fears he will be too aggressive because of his breed. She stated that she had to muzzle him, he was growling and trying to bite her. She said I need to be more stern with him. This was shocking because my husband always puts his finger in his mouth to take anything out he shouldn't be swallowing and he doesn't behave like this. This made me want to switch the vet. I don't like the fact that just because he is a basenji she is already calling him too aggressive. I also feel that her energy could be the problem. Shes not even giving him a chance. He is still in training and I will continue his training for as long as I can. What do you guys think? This is my first basenji and would like to know what you experienced owners think. Am I overreacting?

last edited by giira2121

IMHO, I don't like that your Vet put a muzzle on a not-yet 5 month old puppy. I've never known a Veterinarian that was afraid of a puppy. Nor have I ever known one that didn't know how to handle a pup and/or calm down a frightened animal. My instincts say: "Get a new Vet!"

btw, cute little guy!

last edited by elbrant

I completely agree. I feel like if she can’t handle him now there is no way she will be able to handle him being bigger. My husband was also furious that he was muzzled and I completely agreed with him because if we can handle him she should be able to he’s only 18 weeks. I was also concerned with her pushing the neutering on me when I have never mentioned to her that I want him neutered. I am in search of a new vet already. Thank you for your response.

@giira2121 I brought my first basenji Jengo to a vet and I didn't like the vet's vibe, so I switched vets. I would suggest you do the same.

Another thing that I've learned with my second male is that some basenji's are just very vocal. Logan makes sounds all the time including growling. Now I've always thought that growling was a precursor to a snap or a bite. In his case that's not the case. For him growling is a protest not a warning. It concerned me when he first did it but the more I tested him the more it became clear it wasn't aggresion at all. Sparkle does the same thing, but to a lesser degree. They've grown up together.

Some of the breeders here who've been around for several decades might be able to shed some light on aggressiveness with the breed perhaps in the 60s or 70s, but from what I understand most of that aggression has been bred out of basenjis. I have to wonder if your current vet may have heard old stories or myths, and has just come to some conclusion that isnt based on reality.

I'm skeptical about making an accurate assessment about a pup's long-term personality at 18 weeks old. There are so many variables. Again I support getting another vet. I wouldn't share any information with the second vet pertaining to what the first vet has said. I'd be interested in hearing the second vet's independent opinion.

Edit... I forgot to mention... He's super cute! πŸ‘ŠπŸ˜πŸ‘

last edited by JENGOSMonkey

Maybe it's because of Covid that you were not with your pup at the vet's? The aggression sounds like a fear reaction. Personally I don't have a problem with the muzzle. It's preferable to someone being bitten. I have always been with my dogs at the vet's and have never had an issue, because they trust me, and the vet trusts that I will control my dog and prevent a bite.

Get a new Vet - Do NOT neuter your puppy at all, let alone at such an obscenely early age.

It will do nothing for his aggression which from the sound of things, the vet is herself provoking. If the Vet knew Basenjis, actually really KNEW Basenjis and had animal welfare at heart, she would know how to treat a puppy and realise it is showing fear of the unknown, lack of confidence in HER and general unhappiness at the way he is being treated.

Explain to a new vet why you are make the switch. Say that in conditions and circumstances when he is feeling unsure of himself, lacking confidence or uncertain what is happening, he will growl. As when muzzled and being treated like a pariah by an ignoramus. But that at home he is a normal, happy puppy. OK, he nips, but you can cure him of that easily enough.

Do not listen to that Vet - get rid of her, soon as possible. We should soon be allowed to be with our pets at the Vet's again. I hate having to give my two over, although I know the Vets know them well and treat them very kindly.

last edited by Zande

@JENGOSMonkey Yes I completely agree. She isn't familiar with the breed at all. When I first took him to the vet she was so surprised to see a basenji she even said that she thought they no longer existed. I think it is her energy and she is going to keep giving that energy. If it were a different breed she wouldn't be doing this. She said it herself. "Since this breed is known to be aggressive, I suggest we do the neutering sooner before his testosterone kicks in". My husband and I both agreed we wouldn't neuter him. I won't speak to the new vet about the experience and I will keep you posted. Thank you so much for the advice.

Thank you on the compliment. He's such a well behaved puppy along with all the cuteness.

@zande Yes, I have already found a new vet. Since his last visit I listened to my instinct and started my search. I completely agree with the neutering advice. My husband and I from the beginning did our research on the neutering and agreed we would not neuter him. We have been very consistent with training him daily at home and taking him to his weekly training classes. I actually was recommended by a friend to a vet that actually allows you to come in if you suggest that you prefer it that way to make it safe for the vet and the puppy so going forward I will be taking him there. I hate giving him off and not knowing how they are handling him especially because they judge his breed. Any suggestions with the nipping? He's gotten wayyyyy better with me at least, with my husband he knows it's full blown crazy time and he gets too excited and the nipping starts. lol With me he nips and I say "no bite" he automatically stops and I praise him so he doesn't continue with me.

Btw thank you for the advice.

@eeeefarm Yes, correct. Due to Covid I have never gone in with him to any of his visits which is frustrating. I have found a new vet that is willing to let me in to handle him so that everyone is safe. This way I can also learn how to handle him every vet appointment to make it easier for everyone. I am okay with the muzzle if I am present and can put it on him myself so he doesn't hurt anyone but I've never been present in a visit so it is a little discouraging not knowing exactly what's going on.

Thank you for your advice.

@giira2121, re: puppy getting excited and nipping with your husband. When the nipping starts the play stops, instantly. Husband needs to turn away, ignore the pup, resume play only when no nipping is happening. If the pup persists he should be prevented from nipping, by restraining if necessary. Nipping or biting humans is not acceptable. When you accompany him to the vet you need to be comfortable holding and/or restraining him, controlling his head and his mouth so that the vet is safe. Unfortunately dogs learn to connect vet visits with discomfort. Who likes getting an injection or blood drawn? Of course the dog dislikes or fears it. Keeping things as calm and matter of fact as possible is essential, so having your pup used to you holding and controlling him is important. Do you routinely handle him all over, do his toenails, check inside his mouth, etc.?

@eeeefarm yes, we do handle him all over. That was taught in our training class. We touch his mouth,ears, paws etc. We began with treats now we can touch him without having to reward. My husband puts his fingers in his mouth, he is now comfortable with us putting clothing on, leashes anything without reacting. He sits and waits for his food, he never jumps at it or runs to it until he hears his command. I have not cut his nails yet because we take him to the groomers I am not experienced with it and afraid to over-cut but i have showered him myself without an issue. I use the wipes for his paws sometimes I even wash his paws in the bathroom sink with no problem. When he nibbles at my husband I put him in his playpen until he relaxes. Then let him back out if it continues he goes back in.

@giira2121 Instinct is a great tool with Basenjis and it is very often absolutely right !

A Basenji will nip if he can get away with it or if he thinks it is play and that you (or in this case you husband) will respond. Your husband should just make it clear that biting means NO playtime and just walk away. The puppy will very soon learn. Biting is useless as an attention seeking ploy. It gets him nowhere. Husband should cease all play and leave the scene.

I don't go in with my vet although they have all said I could with the puppy. The carpark is full of patients and on-going carpark consultations so as I know the boys will be OK, I don't want to behave other than as everyone else.

Not to neuter is absolutely the right decision and the best one for the wee boy.

Sounds like the right thing to find a new Vet. Just wondering, how come to a groomer? We consider Basenjis as "wash and wear", groomers are not usually needed? You can learn to do their nails at home...if that is the reason.

@giira2121 said in My vet says my puppy is too aggressive:

When he nibbles at my husband I put him in his playpen until he relaxes.

Kinda think this is going to backfire on you. Like a kid sent to his bedroom and the parent suddenly realizes that the kid isn't being punished because their bedroom has all of their toys in it. In this case, you are teaching your pup that you are jealous of his playtime with Dad. Dad has to be the one that tells the pup not to bite him when the pup is nipping at him. You teach the pup not to bite when he is biting you. But get rid of the "time out" playpen concept.

Better to firmly say, "no!", without raising your voice, and gently guiding his mouth away from the nibbled area. He will understand it better. It will take less time to teach, and it will be more effective.

@tanza yes for the nails. The last time I had them shower him and cut the nails but I usually shower him at home.

@elbrant will try this going forward. My husband does tell him not to bite and also puts him in the playpen.

@giira2121 said in My vet says my puppy is too aggressive:

@tanza yes for the nails. The last time I had them shower him and cut the nails but I usually shower him at home.

Yeah, washing a Basenji is a snap if you don't count having to use both hands to keep it in the sink or bath tub. 🀣 Partly kidding. I've found having another person handy is the best solution, or using a martingale collar. I can usually use that and one hand to control the doggie and the other to scrub all the good smells they've worked oh so hard to find and rub in while on the trails. πŸ‘

I use to HATE doing nails. And I do mean HATED it. Not anymore. My wife bought a nail grinder similar to this one. My breeder taught me how she uses it, and I gotta tell ya... it's super simple! No hitting quicks, no screaming doggies, and no stress for me. Really encourage you to try it. πŸ˜‰

@giira2121 Hang on a moment - you usually shower him at home ???

Why on earth are you showering him at all ? A gentle brush with a hound glove or a soft-ish brush - he will love that but a shower !?!? You are washing out all the natural oils in his coat.

My pack didn't get 5 showers between them in 39 - 40 years ! and I had up to 8 Basenjis at a time for ages. Like a Conga-line each one would clean the dog in front in the kitchen when they got really dirty. Basenji groom themselves and make a far better job of it than we can.

@elbrant has the right of it. Whoever is infringed against does the punishing. If he bites you - you put him in his cage. If he bites your husband, he is the one to do it.

Cause and effect.I bite HIM, SHE punishes me ? Doesn't work for a Basenji.

last edited by Zande

@jengosmonkey thank you I will definitely try it. i was scared to cut the nails too short but I am going to order that ASAP. The last shower at the groomers made him extremely itchy which is another reason why I was going to stop taking him.

@giira2121 I'm lucky. My breeder knows everything about hair! She set us up with some really good shampoo and conditioner...

Chris Christensen Peace & Kindness Shampoo
And
Chris Christensen Day to Day Moisturizing Canine Conditioner

I've not seen any itchiness or flaking... πŸ‘

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