My go to remark when I find a dog doing something to an item that isn't "legal" : "Is that yours?" They know exactly what I mean!
Fear period aggression
Since a tiny puppy my 11 month old has always been very nervous but very interested in saying hello to strangers. We have socialised her on a daily basis in a variety of settings with multiple people and she has really enjoyed saying hello, as long as people allow her to approach them. If she doesn't want to say hello she recoils and makes it obvious.
Recently she seems to be going through a fear period, as she is jumping at loud noises, joggers running past and doesn't want to go down an alleyway that she has been walking through for months.
Last week we walked past someone's house who she doesn't know but has said hello to a couple of times before and put her front paws up on the wall to say hello. He offered his hand out, which she nervously approached (typical for her) but then growled really aggressively at him. She has never done this before to a person (only occasionally to specific dogs).
A couple of days later we went past someone else's house and she looked like she nervously wanted say hello again. I asked him not to put his hand out due to what happened last week, but he did anyway and she did the same thing (approached it nervously and then aggressively growled).
Has anyone else been through this at this age and did it pass or was this a permanent change? What did you find helpful. I want to keep going out so she doesn't become desocialised but don't want to be responsible for a bite. Do I just ask people she doesn't know not to touch while she's going through this fear period?
Zande last edited by Zande
as long as people allow her to approach
That is absolutely typical Basenji. You have (people visiting you have) to let the dog come to you. And the same goes with folks you meet out. Mine have all and always been leery of strangers who approach them. Although they are free in the woods, they will run away if someone bends down to pet them.
But if they are just ignored, they will even stand on hind legs and beg for food or treats from strangers. And once they have sniffed a hand, will allow themselves to be stroked.
I make a point of thanking and congratulating parents of children who ask may I stroke your dog ? because this shows the kid has been properly taught. Sometimes they will accept a child, sometimes not. They will just move away. But I have also known Basenjis, ever so gently, to remove a biscuit or sandwich from the paw of an infant in a pushchair !! The expression on the face of the kid is always hilarious.
Growling is certainly NEVER permitted !
Just say my dog is a bit leery of strangers. Please let her come to you and it will be fine. If they don't understand - just walk away.
Puppies of all breeds go through a fear period. Here's an article from the AKC which may help you understand and work through it. Also, note that a growl is a very useful vocalization letting you know that the pup is afraid or otherwise uncomfortable. Definitely remove the pup from the situation, but never punish the growl. Punishing the growl will likely lead to biting without warning.
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JKent last edited by JKent
Thanks both. I have always asked people to let her come to them with their hand out to sniff, which had previously worked well. These last two times she has done that and then growled aggressively whilst sniffing their hand, so I'm now worried about letting her say hello to any strangers at all in case she bites
I'm pretty sure she's going through a fear period, as she is showing other signs like not wanting to go down the alleyway and jumping when a jogger goes past. Her hackles have always been up when saying hello to strangers but she has still approached in her own time and enjoyed a stroke.
It's just working out how to manage it without avoiding interaction and therefore risking desocialising her, whilst making sure she doesn't bite. It's a bit easier when someone comes to the house as I can ask them to totally ignore her until she makes it really obvious she's comfortable, but there isn't time for that to happen when out and about on walks, which is where she meets the most people.
EDIT I should add that there is a possibility that she's about to come into season again (1st cycle was at Christmas) so I understand that can contribute to mood changes.
Just one comment. When she does this, don't make a big deal of it or try to reassure her, as that may make her more anxious. I would be inclined to not pursue socializing with strangers at the moment, just be matter of fact, casual, and walk past. Putting too much stress on her right now would be a mistake, and she will feel your concern that she might bite, which she could misinterpret, making her more likely to defend herself and you.
Just went out for a walk and the man that she growled at last week came out of his house with some dog biscuits for her. He put a couple on his front wall, which she ate and then came out and squatted down and she took some more from his hand. I thought that was nice of him to proactively try and help.
@eeeefarm good idea. It's hard when she's cute and stops and stares at people with an inviting look, so will have to make sure we're standing out of their way!
@JKent, I had a further thought. Dogs can take eye contact as aggression. Basenjis, more than some breeds, will look you in the eye, but with a stranger it could be perceived by the dog as threatening. Ask people she is approaching to look away, and not reach towards her. I think she is unlikely to bite in those circumstances, and once she has a good chance to sniff she may relax, as long as nobody makes a sudden move. ( I will not be opting to pay legal fees if my advice is not good! )
elbrant last edited by elbrant
These last two times she has done that and then growled aggressively whilst sniffing their hand,
Maybe they need to wash their hands? Dogs smell things we don't so.... maybe these particular people are using a soap that has a stinky smell, or your dog is picking up on fear/anxiety pheromones, or... as you suggested, you are dealing with doggy PMS... I am certain that doodle gets mating season PMS, so... possible.
Kudos to the guy with the doggy biscuits!
@eeeefarm "I will not be opting to pay legal fees..."
Update - have seen blood this afternoon so looks like she's in season and hopefully explains the increased fear/anxiety.
@JKent, so just being a "bitchy" bitch. Explains a lot.
Zande last edited by Zande
@jkent It is great when someone is aware of any problems and actively helps you. It gives you and your dog a degree of reassurance.
In the woods at the moment there are many families, struggling with 'pandemic puppies.' Probably never even imagined having a dog before they started working from home or were furloughed.
I always make a point of talking to them and to the dog, letting it get close to my two boys (who show a great deal of understanding and patience) and generally trying to encouage them.
Often the next time we meet, their pup is either running free or getting close.
I found a really excellent method which fixed this quickly. I just give house guests (esp males) a few pieces of chicken and have them freely give it to the pups when they meet them. They LOVE house guests now.