Help with socialization

My beautiful girl Ginger is great with people, but dogs are another story. Big or small she growls at them all! She is about 6 years old, so she isn't a pup anymore. Does anyone have advice on steps I can take to make her more comfortable. I am also looking for a puppy socialization/training course in Seattle… 😕

Typically basenjis are dog agressive - it has to do with their need to determine pack order. I have seen some people who have done nice things to desensitise this but sometimes there are some breeds that they just hate. I had one dog that hated Collies and anything that presented the collie outline. Not smooth collies, not bearded collies, but Belgium shepdogs etc were included. I had another one that hated Scotties.

If you've had her for a long time and this is new, you need to work with a good behaviorist and a non- dominate dog first. If this is a dog you acquired later in life - I doubt that she will change.

Whew - sorry I'm so pessimistic but I think that unless they have accepted lots of other dogs from an early age - they won't.

@Ginger_and_Christine:

My beautiful girl Ginger is great with people, but dogs are another story. Big or small she growls at them all! She is about 6 years old, so she isn't a pup anymore. Does anyone have advice on steps I can take to make her more comfortable. I am also looking for a puppy socialization/training course in Seattle… 😕

There are other threads on the forum with some great recommendations for books on this topic and training suggestions.

Ginger & Christine… completely understand where you are coming from. OUr Rocky is dog agressive... but completely passive with our Papillion and my mother-in-laws two dogs (a papillion and a mini daschund). He's always had a phobia of large dogs due to multiple attacks by the larger shepard in his previous home, but he still has difficulties. We've managed to help him overcome his fears enough so he isn't lunging at other large dogs anymore, but he still raise his hackles and growls deeply. But progress! He has decided that my future brother-in-laws Great Pyraneese/Catahoula mix is okay... at least tolerable in the same room!

dmcarty is right... some dogs just never get over their "prejudices". It's up to us as their humans to manage the situations; always offer a safe oportunity for them to overcome their issues, but don't punish them for being who they are.

Good luck!

It's funny how they like some breeds and other have no respect for. I also find the reverse, where Bishons seem to disslike them.

Mine also does not get along with long haired breeds. He just wants to pull all their fur out.

I find our dogs do best with hounds & Labs. Basenji's are like people, some dogs they like and other's they can't stand.

I know this though, the ones that usually end up being trouble are dogs who approach them without manners. Jumping, running right up to them. I guees after being attacked several times, he does not know the dogs intentions.

For our dog to meet another strange dog successfully, the other dog must slowly come side by side. He keeps an errect alert posture. They present each other to be sniffed, then once he finds out it's girls and she behaves everything is fine.

He can't tollerate any males. The gloves come off!

For basenji's it always about who is dominant when they meet a dog. Being on a leash also makes things more difficult.

Oh, here is a suggestion that will make you more comfortable maybe.

Petsmart sells soft muzzles which fit well (kinda hannible lector looking) and allow the dog to lick their lips but not open the mouth.

If you are worried about an incident, this would be a great way to have her around people where she cant do any harm, just growl.

I have found the basenjis wear a size 4.

I use it for behavior that is out of control. They try to get it off, then settle down and realize they must give up struggling with it. It has really worked wonders for me with excessive biting or crazy play that is really nutz.

My adult basenjis can wear them without any fuss.

Now, if I show it, they typically settle down right away.

Just a thought

My adult basenjis can wear them without any fuss.

Our dogs won't tolerate a muzzle anymore (used the soft muzzle). The vet used them to trim their nails (which they always have despised having done), It worked great in the beginning but as time went on (several years) they became aware of what the muzzle meant. Now they even see a muzzle or even bring one close to them they bare their teeth and are ready to go at it and if you can hurry up and slip on one they go crazy and somehow get out of it using their paws to pull it off their heads.

We did it all wrong. We should have trained them early to wear a muzzle and just put it on give them treats to make it positive. The problem was, when they were young they were fine with having everything done to them, but as they grew older they decided they were not going to have any part of their nails being trimmed. We never foresaw having to use a muzzle and now we are paying for it. We can do anything we want with them except the nail trimming- they drew a line in the sand on nails.

Basenji's are really smart and very impressionable, what might be fine one day can fly out the window the next or much further down the road as we have learned. They don't get fooled again.

These are very smart dogs and are much like the Chinese- they have long term goals to try to get what they want and work very slowly, towards their goals.

Leash walking is another one of their long-term goals. At first no sniffing was allowed. So when they had to go potty they sniffed around and did their business. Ah! So they learned if I pretend I have to go, I can sniff around till I go, which they do, but now after enough time to read the morning paper!

It did not start like that, oh no. They worked little by little, inch by inch over years to get their way.

Also they learned not to go potty right away on walk or we might just bring them in right away (winter). Now they wait till either they can't hold it, or just before we get home to do number 2.

These are very crafty animals, be warned. Like the Chinese they don't care how long it takes to achieve their little domination plots.

What I have learned you can never back off anything or else they will take advantage of you so fast. I can't even talk on the phone without them pestering me!

That's what crates are for!

Why would anyone want to train their dogs to wear muzzles? That is way beyond me?… and totally not necessary... and I think it is a very, very poor idea to put muzzles on them and let them go around growling at people? And I have had many a puppy and never had to resort to a muzzle? Nail trimming started as puppies should never be that much of a problem.. while they might not think it is the greatest thing in the world... they let you trim them?

we got a super alpha puppy and he even drew blood as a puppy from his breeder trimming his nails. He just has it in his head he's not letting anyone trim his nails.

But of coarse your right, it is our fault, being first time dog owners, we did not trim his nails everyday as a small puppy, which every owner should do. Our breeder preached that to us as well. A dog can't be blamed for an owners mistakes. We just did not want to go through the struggle /confrontation of dealing with him as a puppy. The funny part was, when he was young he had no problem letting strangers trim his nails (groomers). Now he's a powerful adult dog. Believe me we learned our lesson!

The dog learned early that he could intimidate my wife by going savage (he also knows there are strict consequences for that). My wife was rightlfully afraid after the way he ripped open our breeders finger. He has drawn a line in the sand on this.

If I could start over I would. I have no idea how to get him past this now. I have the vet trim his nails now and they take him in back & do it.

taking blood, shots, ear cleaning, baths, teeth- no problems, until the nail trimmer comes out, then for him the gloves come off.

Anyone have any suggestions?

There are ways to help even an adult dog learn to tolerate nail trimming and not have to wear a muzzle.

One way is to make them an emery board, a piece of wood with sand paper attached, and then click and treat for touching the board with their feet and eventually for digging at the board so they are basically trimming their own nails.

If they have problems with people handling their feet in general, you can start hand feeding them their meals and touch a foot while doing it. After a while they will associate having their foot held with being fed which is associated with good feelings.

Thanks a great idea, that's why this board is so great. Where else are you going to get help with basenji issues?

Petsmart training? I dont think so.

I'll try it. I can touch his paws no problem and even give him little foot massages when he is settled.

Our female dog has the same issue but is not aggressive. She struggles and you have to wrestle with her. She broke my wife's nose in two places once trying to trim her nails. The dog hit her with her head jerking around. One time she was so scared trimming her nails at a groomer, she lost her bowels on the grooming table. Just shot right out of her she was so terrified. She will not let us touch her paws, she just takes off.

We've conditioned our dogs to muzzles for different reasons..one being the vet (they're not happy campers at the vets) and two for our dog class as part of an exercise during class (no more than a few minutes). In the summer we've used basket muzzles. This was good since we plan to lure course at some point & they'll have to use the muzzles at first until they can be trusted without.

Anyhow my dogs are adults & we had to teach them to like the muzzles both soft & baskets…I would use a SUPER HIGH value treat place it in the muzzle whole so that they have to stick their nose IN the muzzle to get it. This was a slow & easy progression & never once did I clip it on until they were eating out of the muzzle for a few minutes & decided the muzzle was a good thing.

I also used a muzzle that was big enough for me to squeez food in their mouths after it was clipped on...again very slow & easy progression.

You may have to start out even slower...cook a nice piece of chicken or turkey sprinkled with some parmesan cheese...feed him this ONLY when the muzzle is in sight. Then put the muzzle away & the chicken. Take the muzzle out & feed the chicken...repeat repeat repeat. Dog's thoughts.."every time I see that darn muzzle I get this amazing chicken w/cheese" 😃

Hope this helps 🙂

I agree…I think it is worth it for a lot of people to condition their dogs to a muzzle, particularly if they tend towards the fear aggressive side of life. Better to have them comfortable with having a muzzle put on, than being in a situation where they must wear a muzzle (vet) and being FREAKED out by it, making the situation even worse. A couple of the vets at our practice are more nervous about the noises a grumpy basenji makes than others, and for their comfort I will muzzle Ivy when we need to do a blood draw. And just once I have been asked to muzzle Querk at the vet.

However, I the idea of using a muzzle to manage behavior around the house makes me uncomfortable. I just have a gut feeling that if you mask the behavior (literally!) by using a a muzzle, the dogs WILL still have the emotions that make them need to sort things out...and eventually the emotion will bubble over, and may be worse if than if they had been able to sort it out naturally. Also, I think it is dangerous to muzzle one dog, and not the others because it puts the muzzled one at a serious disadvantage, and both he and the other dogs know it....it could completely alter how the dogs would normally interact. I am rambling...disregard if desired 😉

I bought a soft muzzle years ago when Caesar would eat every harness seat belt. It was a great way to stop him from chewing when I couldnt turn around and stop him. Eventually he understood that he shouldnt chew on things in the car if he didnt want the muzzle on. Very soft, but tight enough to not allow for biting.

I suggest this for walking if you are fearing your basenji might bite others. Although training is the best way to communicate what you want, sometimes protection may be a necessity for you, other or your basenji.

I learned this at lure coarsing. Caesar was great at it and I wanted to get Beta involved eventually. I could see with the dogs that ran together that there was a potential for nipping. I would definately use a muzzle if she had lure coursed to not have her nip the other dog. She was a chaser and play nip at the end, but I would hate for that to be misinterpreted.

I use the soft muzzle when kennel time and mom alone wont get the point across. It is far better than any physical discipline to a dog that is spastic. A growling dog is a concern for others. You may train well, but if you are worried about guests, it is a good way to have them together.

Just a suggestion.

The muzzle should never replace any intent to work with your dog to imporve your communication.

I use it for biting that is excessive towards people or other dogs. I would use it for protection of others or animals if I felt I had a dog that was capable of being aggressive towards others or would nip.

Regarding the nail clippings… I have learned with the dogs (just as with the human kids), sometimes it is all about the expectations. Our Papillion absolutely hates having his nails clipped (he got quicked really bad once). But to condition him to accept it, we'd clip one nail, and then give him a treat and be done for a while. A couple hours later, we'd go back and trim another nail, give him a treat, and be done. It went on like this for a couple days, triming one nail at a time. He got it into his head that 1) triming nails wasn't a big tadoo; 2) there was nothing to fear; and 3) triming nails ends up being a very yummy experience!

Yes, it takes a lot of time, but it is so very worth it in the end.

John Lyons (natural horsemanship clinician) once said there are two rules when training a horse (I believe it also applies to dogs): 1) make sure neither you nor the animal are in a position to get hurt; and 2) always ask a "yes" answered question. If you dog only allows enough time to trim one nail, so be it and walk away after praise and a treat. If progress is simply showing the nail clippers without an agressive response, so be it. Progress comes, albeit slowly. But it can happen.

Good luck!

Hi there. I think that it is a great idea that you want to go to a dog training specialist to try to correct this problem. If you get a good one they will be able to help.

I've had to retrain a pug and a chihuahua not to bite me when clipping their nails. The pugs' nails were left to grow and ended up growing into the pads of the foot. The vet wanted to put the dog to sleep to trim the nails. She now lets me trim the nails-with a dremel-without trying to bite.

The Chihuahua was put under to trim it's nails before I had it. It took me six weeks to just touch it's feet, but after that we were able to move very quickly and cut it's nails within a few weeks. It does take a lot of time-but it's worth it.

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