• @scagnetti said in biting..again:

    possibly small amounts of social isolation.

    I think this is an important point. And it doesn't have to mean crate time. Being instantly available to your dog has some downsides to it. IMO, your attention should be rationed, as should food rewards and praise. Anything in great supply loses its value. Professional trainers know this, and many deliberately limit the dog's access to their attention, thereby making it more valuable and worth working to attain. If pleasing you gains your attention and affection, for many dogs it becomes an important goal. (and then there are the ones who just want you to leave them alone, so they are fine with it!)


  • @eeeefarm said in biting..again:

    @scagnetti said in biting..again:

    possibly small amounts of social isolation.

    I think this is an important point. And it doesn't have to mean crate time. Being instantly available to your dog has some downsides to it. IMO, your attention should be rationed, as should food rewards and praise. Anything in great supply loses its value. Professional trainers know this, and many deliberately limit the dog's access to their attention, thereby making it more valuable and worth working to attain. If pleasing you gains your attention and affection, for many dogs it becomes an important goal. (and then there are the ones who just want you to leave them alone, so they are fine with it!)

    Well stated.

    It must be said, that it's easy to over-do for a certain kind of person and easy to under-do for another. Finding the rate is difficult for a lot of pet dog owners, even some who already have a rate of social isolation time built into their dog's day (i.e. 9-5 job).

    Ideally for me, my dog would sleep when he's alone, be up (and active) when he's with me, and go to sleep when I do. Teaching this (and so much else) is done with crate training, social isolation, attention rationing, and so many other tools.

    A lot of pet dog owners don't have access to these tools on their own or can't understand it on their own or don't care to understand it period. Having a well-adjusted dog is underrated apparently. In the end, we all want dogs for different reasons, and there are many tools at our disposable that we can use to help shape our dog into what we want (and can live with).


  • There is a great deal of focus on common commands, like "sit", "down", etc. And there is no doubt that you want your dog to obey without having to nag. However you teach your dog to behave, put the emphasis on:

    1. safety (for the dog, your family, etc.), and
    2. your lifestyle.

    If this is the family dog, train the dog to be comfortable around the family (and visa versa). Do you need a dog that plays well with the children? Do you need your dog to understand how to behave in the woods so you can go hiking together? Every situation will need specific training and generalized training as well.

    Consider what kind of behavior you expect from your dog, what kind of activities you need to prepare your dog for, and what type of training building blocks you should teach to achieve those goals.

    A strong, reliable, "come" response is paramount for your dogs safety. Start there. Combine the command word, perhaps a hand gesture, and (my favorite) a natural -not store bought- whistle. Do all three together and your dog will learn to respond to any of the three individually. That's going to be your first building block

    @scagnetti said in biting..again:

    we can use to help shape our dog into what we want

    This is such a valuable concept!


  • @scagnetti
    "all crazy" means those times when he starts biting everyone and everything and is not responding to anyting.
    I was observing him this weekend and the biting starts from the moment he wakes up in the morning (or anytime during the day) and we put a hand inside the crate. Then he goes potty and the biting intensifies.
    He settles and starts behaving nicely only around meals (so I guess he now understands what a "good" behaviour is) and as soon as he eats, he starts biting again.
    The biting gets most ferocious, if we want him to do something he doesn't want to. For example, I knew he was tired after a walk today, because at the end he did a lot of breaks and didn't want to walk anymore. But when we got home, he didn't want to come inside and I pulled him in and then he bit me pretty hard quite a few times.

    We go on walks 3 times per day and they last for around 1h. And usually we make him look for things (ball, food, us), try some recall or some trick so that the walks are interactive and there is a lot of running.
    We also got a sniffing mat and he got frustrated because he couldn't find the food right away and he bit off part of the mat.
    At least the handling drills seem to be going ok (I hope).

    Just one more question, if we put him in the crate to calm down without toys and he starts screaming, what should we do?

    Thanks again!


  • @jengosmonkey
    Thanks, hope we'll get there someday!


  • @eeeefarm
    We are aware that he is getting too much attention and we're trying to limit that but it's going very slow, small victories like JENGOSMonkey said.


  • @scagnetti said in biting..again:

    A lot of pet dog owners don't have access to these tools on their own or can't understand it on their own or don't care to understand it period. Having a well-adjusted dog is underrated apparently. In the end, we all want dogs for different reasons, and there are many tools at our disposable that we can use to help shape our dog into what we want (and can live with).

    I really want a well adjusted dog, that's why I'm annoying all of you with millions of questions.
    I want to at least try doing the right things before it's too late.


  • @yodabasenji said in biting..again:

    Just one more question, if we put him in the crate to calm down without toys and he starts screaming, what should we do?

    Don't let him out while he is screaming. Do let him out immediately he stops.

    At his age an hour active walk seems a bit long, especially three times a day.

    Have you talked to his breeder about your problems? He seems unusually difficult and I wonder if this is also an issue with other pups in the litter? The fact that you got him at such a young age makes me wonder about the breeder. From what you are describing it sounds like this pup is hyperactive, and really focused on biting, and I wonder why....


  • @elbrant
    Yes, we really need a focus what we want of him and set some specific goals.
    But at least we did right by starting teaching him recall very soon, probably the only really consistent thing we are doing.


  • @eeeefarm
    I was worried that he's getting too much exercise. We did start with shorter walks of course, but since this excessive biting started, we thought he needed more. Maybe his behaviour is now worse because he's too tired and doesn't know how to calm down and things just escalate.
    We'll go back to 30 minutes and see how it goes.

    We are constantly contacting the breeder but she says that biting is normal and that we should spray him with water when he's biting and put chilli on things we don't want him to bite. We were quite reserved with these suggestions, but yesterday we had no other option and tried with the water, although I'm not sure it's a good idea.
    I don't have any information how things are going with other pups, but she did send us a video of a dog from her previous litter 2 years ago doing all kinds of tricks, just to show us that it's possible to train her dogs I guess.


  • @yodabasenji said in biting..again:

    @scagnetti
    "all crazy" means those times when he starts biting everyone and everything and is not responding to anyting.
    I was observing him this weekend and the biting starts from the moment he wakes up in the morning (or anytime during the day) and we put a hand inside the crate. Then he goes potty and the biting intensifies.
    He settles and starts behaving nicely only around meals (so I guess he now understands what a "good" behaviour is) and as soon as he eats, he starts biting again.
    The biting gets most ferocious, if we want him to do something he doesn't want to. For example, I knew he was tired after a walk today, because at the end he did a lot of breaks and didn't want to walk anymore. But when we got home, he didn't want to come inside and I pulled him in and then he bit me pretty hard quite a few times.

    We go on walks 3 times per day and they last for around 1h. And usually we make him look for things (ball, food, us), try some recall or some trick so that the walks are interactive and there is a lot of running.
    We also got a sniffing mat and he got frustrated because he couldn't find the food right away and he bit off part of the mat.
    At least the handling drills seem to be going ok (I hope).

    Just one more question, if we put him in the crate to calm down without toys and he starts screaming, what should we do?

    Thanks again!

    Thank you for the clarification; I can now give you a more specific answer.

    To begin, I wouldn't put a hand in the crate (right now). He obviously has a problem with space, (this isn't unusual for Basenjis) so it's best to avoid provoking him to react, and we do this by respecting his space.

    Eventually he should learn that he has no choice in the matter, sometimes he's going to get touched when he doesn't want to, but teaching that to a sensitive dog this young isn't really fair and it's probably not going to work because sensitive puppies tend to be incredibly stubborn and sometimes fearful. So work on the concept of obligation later, after he learns to be okay with being handled in general.

    Also, eventually he's going to be more naturally comfortable with you touching him, because you'll have had a history of touching him. Keep doing handling drills and the behavior will start getting better with time.

    As for the example you gave, this is the kind of fight that I want to avoid ever happening. I try not to put myself in those kinds of situations. What I would've done is lure the puppy in the house with food. If I had no food on me, I would've picked the puppy up. This is the kind of scenario where you can begin to see it start if you're watching him. If you start to notice his signs and body language you can avoid this kind of thing, but this comes with experience of raising puppies.

    When it comes to walks, I use it as enrichment for the dog, i.e. novel experiences (new smells, noises, sights, textures, etc.). I try to keep walking separate from training because I don't want to confuse him. Walks are just walks.

    I insist that he not pull me but other than that, there aren't really any rules with this activity, he's free to go where he wants (as long as it's safe) and smell whatever. This is an activity that's distinct from training, play, food work, and anything where there's any kind of obligation or attention on me. I just let him explore and I go where he wants (as long as he doesn't pull).

    It's also worth it to note here that I don't use walking as physical exercise, I use play for physical exercise. Walks (with tons of sniffing) are good for mental exercise though, and that's another benefit of keeping walks as just walks.

    Right now, he's too young to use play as exercise, and he doesn't know how to play yet, you'll have to teach him. In the meantime, I would physically exercise him by taking a long lead and going to an empty field and play some chase with food, working on engagement, attention, eye contact, and relationship building. And I would use walks as enrichment and mental exercise (as long as he isn't pulling).

    As for the snuffle mat, I would hold back on that for a few months, until you curb the biting and after you work on impulse control.

    For the crate query: I wouldn't use the crate in that manner. I would only put him in the crate when he's calm, like after a long walk, or exercise session. Some people use their crate for timeout, some people have success with that, that's why I initially proffered that as an option, but I personally wouldn't do it because it doesn't work into my specific training program. If you do, then you have to distinguish between timeout (an aversive) and social isolation and sleep, and that can be difficult for some. Also, you have to worry about things like screaming, spinning, etc. If he screams after being put in, I would ignore it. This is a pain though, and personally, if I were in your situation, I wouldn't use the crate as timeout. It's more effective, in my opinion, to exhaust the dog, and then put him in the crate so that he doesn't have the energy to scream and be anxious.

    All the best.


  • @yodabasenji said in biting..again:

    @eeeefarm
    I was worried that he's getting too much exercise. We did start with shorter walks of course, but since this excessive biting started, we thought he needed more. Maybe his behaviour is now worse because he's too tired and doesn't know how to calm down and things just escalate.
    We'll go back to 30 minutes and see how it goes.

    We are constantly contacting the breeder but she says that biting is normal and that we should spray him with water when he's biting and put chilli on things we don't want him to bite. We were quite reserved with these suggestions, but yesterday we had no other option and tried with the water, although I'm not sure it's a good idea.
    I don't have any information how things are going with other pups, but she did send us a video of a dog from her previous litter 2 years ago doing all kinds of tricks, just to show us that it's possible to train her dogs I guess.

    The problem with spraying water as an aversive is that you might become reliant on it, i.e. he will only stop when you spray water, so you always have to have a water sprayer handy. Another problem is that he might become desensitized to it after a while and it will no longer work. These same problems are also present when using things like shake cans, etc.

    You said you interact with him and train tricks on these walks, so how much physical exercise is he really getting on these walks? The only question that needs to be asked when trying to determine the amount of time a walk should be is, what are the puppy's energetic needs? If you have a high drive puppy, 3 hour exercise isn't unheard of. The same is true with reactive dogs. Typically they have very high energetic needs and these needs should be met if you're trying to change behavior. If you don't have a high drive puppy or a reactive puppy, then 3 hours a day may be surplus to requirements. It all depends on the individual puppy.


  • @scagnetti said in biting..again:

    The problem with spraying water as an aversive is that you might become reliant on it, i.e. he will only stop when you spray water, so you always have to have a water sprayer handy.

    True, but it does work well for some dogs. I got an adult from a breeder who trains her pups this way, and he had the best house manners of any Basenji I have owned. Would not even tear up tissues from the garbage. Her other dogs are similar, very reliable in the house. Anecdotal but interesting. And his plush toys were never destroyed.


  • @eeeefarm said in biting..again:

    True, but it does work well for some dogs. Anecdotal but interesting.

    No question.

    My precept for training is "whatever works and is fair for the dog I'm interacting with".

    I will say, that a water sprayer is a tool and should be used properly because there are dangers when using improperly, like everything. And like most training tools, most pet dog owners don't know how to properly use them.

    In general, I'm not against their proper use, I don't really discriminate with tools. But certain tools should only be used by people who know what they're doing, especially those with sensitive dogs.


  • I agree. A lot of tools get a bad rep because they are used by inexperienced people. Aversives generally are open to abuse, but when used correctly can be remarkably effective. I've worked with both dogs and horses for many years, and found my equine experience increasingly informed my methods with canines. Horses, especially Arabians, are very sensitive and easily tipped into fear reactions. You learn to use the lightest touch that gives you the result you are looking for. An upset and fearful animal doesn't learn anything, except perhaps not to trust you anymore. OTOH, a correctly timed aversive can be extremely useful, e.g. electric fence. Because the correction is immediate and severe, the animal prefers not to repeat the experience, which saves a lot of repair work on page wire fence!


  • @scagnetti
    Thank you for the suggestions, I tried luring and picking him up today, when he just decided to sit a few times in the middle of the road and didn't want to move and it went much better.
    We were doing the walks much like you've described, we take him somewhere where he can experience grass, fresh ground, woods, but we were overdoing things and didn't realize that being in such rich environment is enough for now. Usually he runs at least half of the walk, if not more.

    Unfortunately pulling is much of a problem, today he litterally did a flip because he pulled so hard and sudden 😕 I do try to stand still when he's pulling and go forward only when he releases, but since he pulls so much, we can do this all day and get nowhere. It's a bit easier on the long leash, since we try to run along (at least for now), but still there is a lot of pulling and I'm really afraid he'll injure himself.

    We had first day of puppy school today and it was a disappointment, group trainings are really not for him at this moment, too many distractions.


  • @scagnetti
    I think it's probably best for us to avoid spraying, since we have problems with positive reinforcement, we can just do more damage with aversive.

    Today we went on shorter walks and it was better although I think it's the excitement he gets with runs that are bad for him, because the more he runs, the more he bites.


  • @eeeefarm
    One of my coworkers suggested using a shock collar, because it worked for her dog, but I really think that is where I draw the line here.
    Someone even suggested to bite him back, supposedly it works 😃


  • @yodabasenji said in biting..again:

    @eeeefarm
    One of my coworkers suggested using a shock collar, because it worked for her dog, but I really think that is where I draw the line here.
    Someone even suggested to bite him back, supposedly it works 😃

    Ooooh. Boy, I don't wanna start an argument, but I'm not a fan of either of those for a Basenji. I'd be heartbroken to hear that any of our puppies were being shocked or bitten by owners for biting.

    Basenjis can be extremely sensitive. I'd be afraid that I might cause other behavior issues to surface. I know biting isn't fun, but it's a phase that takes time to break. I prefer Bitter Apple spray for both biting and unwanted chewing. A water spray bottle in moderation.

    I much prefer restraint, putting them away in a pen or crate for a few minutes, stopping play, etc. I draw the line at escalating via physical retribution. I don't want my dogs to be afraid of me or any human. I will tell them "NO BITE" loudly. I've also put my thumb in their mouth below their tongue with forefinger under their lower jaw to stop the biting while telling them "NO BITE!" while looking them straight in the eye. They don't like having their jaw held open, but it only lasts a few seconds.

    I feel bad that you're going through this, but it will pass.


  • @yodabasenji
    Please don’t use a SHOCK COLLAR! I agree completely w/ @JENGOSMonkey ! I had a friend who used a shock collar to try to control the barking of her dog (not a basenji)- she had left the dog alone for a few hours and the collar somehow “shorted-out” and when she returned the dog was whimpering and almost passed out and her neck was burnt. The shock collar did a continuous SHOCK on the dog. Luckily the dog recovered. Please do NOT use this on a dog - it is inhumane!

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