I am so sorry for your loss. I still cry over my losing very difficult but extremely devoted Basenji, Ella.
Well it has been about a month since buster came into my home. He is all around a good dog but as of late he is showing a lot of aggression towards my three year old. Last night buster was sitting on my couch along with weezie and myself, riley my three year old was walking past us and buster jumped out and bit him in the face. I am not sure where to go from here. I have made several calls to brat requesting advise on how to deal with this. Thankfully he only left a welt but it really scared me. what happens if he does it again and we are not so lucky? It wasn't the first time that he has acted out toward him either. It was always a growl and I would correct him for doing it, such as making him get off of the couch or telling him no etc. I have no idea on how to handle this situation. I have started letting riley give him his food, toys and treats. We really don't want to give him up but how do you know if he is a dog that isn't good with young kids??? And how do I correct the problem? If anyone has any ideas please let me know. I am not ready to give up on him and I know that no dog is "hopeless" and I feel as though giving him up would be letting him down.
One of the problems for correcting a dog for growling is that they stop growling and escalate to the next level. When a dog growls it is giving you information that they are uncomfortable with a situation.
What situations cause Buster to growl? What is the common factor?
You will probably need to consult with a behaviorist to get advice for your specific situation.
Did you get your basenji from BRAT?
I did get my dog from brat, and I should say that they were a little concerned when they placed buster with me, however buster came from a home where he was with a child around the same age as my little one. I spoke with the person that handled the adoption today concerning the situation and she was very informative with buster and she shot it to me straight. She said that I needed to assert myself as the alpha and stop letting my little poochie rule the roost. And if I can't then he needs to be rehomed for everybody's sake.
When buster would growl it would be when my little boy would try to approach any couch or chair that he was sitting on. Needless to say I have stopped letting buster on the furniture, and I have stopped letting Riley feed him. I have been told and read to many horror stories about it and I didn't want to take any more chances.
I am going to give buster one more chance to get things straight. I think that I should say that I am going to give myself one more chance to get things straight. I started to think back on how I was treating him, I did the first thing that I was told not to do with him and that was to pitty him. I felt sorry for him because he is in a strange environment, second home, loss of his previous family etc, I thought of him in human terms and that was the first thing I have done wrong among many. I have always felt that it is never really an animals fault that they have bitten a child, but rather a lack of supervision of the adult. I take last night as a wake up call. From here on out, I must watch him like a hawk, last night happened in the blink of the eye and I never saw it coming and they were both under my supervision, I didn't know why he did it. I have to say that it really scared me, I almost gave him back. I think with some retraining on both his and my behalf (and some work with the three year old) would do us both some good. Again any suggestions would be great. I love the little guy, but if he attempts to bite again, I am afraid he is past my knowledge of how to help him. They best thing that I have been told today about the situation was that I am putting my dog in a situation where he has no structure and with the power he has, he can't handle it. That he needs me to step up and take charge. I am still on guard but at least I know what he is capable of doing. It doesn't make what he did right, however now I need to prevent it. Lets just keep our fingers crossed that he doesn't try it again.
Have you ever heard of the book how to child proof your dog? or something on those lines. I have googled it and I couldn't find it I thought that maybe I had the title wrong. I am not sure who the author is.
I don't know about child proofing your dog, but I would suggest you get your dog and yourself into a basic obedience class.
It will help you get back to where you should be…as the one who makes the rules.
When weezie was a puppy I looked into finding an obedience class to get into and I really didn't have much luck finding one that would take us. That was several years ago and I thought that it would be a good route to take with buster. I am hoping to find one that would take us. I am afraid that I should have looked sooner, I think it could have spared a lot of trouble for me and some hurt feelings for my son. This really knocked me down a few rungs though. I thought I had the basenji thing figured out. The real question is how did weezie and buster train me so well? I should take some lessons from them. lol They know how to get what they want when they want it. Thank you for all of your help.
Do you not have a Pet smart or Pet co around your area?
What about a local basenji breed club??
Most of those folks want to train their dogs to do showing.
Just a few thoughts to give you ideas as to where to look.
Oh, I know, contact the Brat person who you know and ask them.
Its a bit of work, but it will help you so very much.
I live in a small rural town about 45 min out side of pittsburgh. I always say that I live in the middle of nowhere and half way to some where. Pet smart and pet co are about 45 minutes from me. We do have a horses and hounds which is a local grooming and training facility that wouldn't take weezie when she was a puppy however if I plead my case they might be more inclined to take us. I will also send out some emails to the brat people in my area or close to my area. I know when I was looking for a puppy the closes breeder to me was out towards the middle of the state and I don't think that they would be much help. I will also call my vet on monday I wish I would have thought of that sooner. Maybe they could recommend somebody. I think that it would be loads of fun and buster is very eager to learn. I sometimes wonder if he is pure bred. He is a lot more vocal than weezie, he does this one bark thing that scares the daylights out of me when he does it. I have to laugh. But I know that with a little bit (I know ALOT) of work he has the potential of being a terrific dog. He is so much more responsive to training than weezie, anyway I will keep you posted on his progress, Thanks again, and if anybody has any ideas I am always open to them.
I have a purebred basenji that gives a bark once in a while.
Mostly when she is startled or wants to "rat" on the misdeeds of my basenji boy.
Yes, we all "jump" when she does it..even my bad boy stops what he is doing to look at her.
Here is a link to the book you mentioned. The author is Brian Kilcommons.
I had aggression issues with my Willie boy and I worked very successfully with a breeder. He wasn't allowed on the furniture for a long time and now only with an invitation. I forget the term she used, but he had to ask for everything, even a pat. In other words, he had to sit before he got a pat, a treat, any kind of attention. He had to submit first. He has to sit and stay for his supper and does not go to it until I say okay. We had to make ourselves a resource to him. My children were older when this started to happen so it was easier to work with them and him, but I noticed that as long as he could scare them, he would pick on them. When they learned not to back off, but to assert themselves quietly, he would back down. This is tough to do with a 3 year old, especially because you have to worry about the level of the child's face to the dog.
I guess what I'm saying is that it can definately be done, but I think a behaviorist would be of great help - not a trainer, but a behaviorist. It saved our boy.
By the way, my basenji girl lets out a short bark when she's very excited. It's a funny little sound!
I think the term you might be looking for is NILIF or 'nothing in life is free'
This is a very useful technique with smart little dogs like Basenjis.
One thing that you might try, is calling him off the couch when he is sleeping for a treat. Once he gets that when you call his name in that situation, try having your son do it. Buster will start to associate your son with good stuff coming, rather than associating him with disturbing his peace.
The only problem with not letting him on the couch as a solution, is that you aren't really addressing the problem of him guarding his space. There may be a time when he sneaks up on the couch, and your son walks by again…if you haven't changed the guarding behavior, he will most likely do it again because he will value the resource (couch) even more because he hardly ever gets to lie on it.
I agree that boundaries, consistancy, and not pittying him will help all of you have a better relationship. There are lots of GREAT books out there that you could use if you just can't find a behaviorist to help. Try browsing www.dogwise.com for a start
I contacted a trainer with experience with aggression in Pittsburgh she agreed to come to my home and help me out with buster. I have started not letting him on the couch at all until he learns to respect boundaries. I have also started to teach buster to follow me. I know it sounds kind of silly but with weezie the little she devil would go to the bathroom on my carpets as soon as I would leave the room, so I started making her follow me from room to room until she curbed the problem at hand. Buster didn't quite know what to make of me asserting myself to him. At first I think that it scared him. He is very receptive to training though. I started to make him sit before he gets any thing he is starting to catch on, then I went one step further and I took one of his toys that he loves and I carried it in my back pocket and would leave it in random places when he would find it I would take it and do the whole routine all over again. I am not sure if it is doing anything but I sat and I watched his interaction with weezie and when she would get a toy he would take it I tried to mimic that interaction by taking his toy. I know to much time on my hands. I just want to make sure that before we give him up we have tried every thing possible to make this work. If it is just that he doesn't like my son…well at least I know I have expended all available resources. It is just going to be a long road from here for awhile. But I agreed with the coordinator to give him two weeks to show any signs of improvement and go from there. So I will just have to take it day by day and see,
I just want to mention that I have had many conversations with my coordinator whom told me how to handle the situation that I am in. I just want to make one thing quite clear and that is that I have never gone through this whole thing with out the help of a brat volunteer. My coordinator has contacted me on several different occasions to help me through this tough time that we are having. I would also like to mention that buster's foster has been in contact with me on several different occasions to see how things are going. Word had gotten back to me that some of you have reported back to brat and copied and pasted (to inform brat) what I have written. Now here is the thing, so it is clear why I have posted what I did. I value what other "basenji" people have to offer. I want to expend all options before I decide to rehome buster. And if somebody would tell me to stand on my head and count backwards to make him work, I would do it. And I should inform you all that it isn't in my vocabulary to rehome him. I can admit that busters issues are more or less environment. I let him get away with his actions and this is what he turned out to be. I started to institute the nilf program and I have seen nothing but positive results. The thing that I want to make quite clear is the fact that I have never gone through this alone. Granted I should have recognised the problem before it got to this point, However I respected the fact that some people would know how to handle the situation more than I would know how to handle it. That is why I asked for help. You must think that I am a total jerk to not ask for help, these are my children that I am talking about. So i ask myself are these people that forewarded this to brat looking for drama or are they looking to help me. I would wager on the err of looking for drama otherwise they would have offered advise. For those that did….thank you. For those that were only looking for trouble screw off. I can tell you that brat is more involoved than any other rescue that I have ever met. I admitted that I was wrong what more will it take. If I could say something it would be get to know me before you passed a line of poo, it would be a great difference in you all to get to know me first. I don't give up and I wont with buster so do me a favour and let all the BRAT people know (since you are so good at it already) Things are taken care of. Sorry that I asked the advise of those that knew more than me. I don't think that I will post here again because of the issues that I am having with the other people here. Sorry I asked for help.....That mistake will never happen again. I only hope that anybody else that has adopted a brat dog will contact somebody including me privately We will be more than willing to help.
I would like to say that I really admire the lengths you are willing to go with Buster and I think it says a lot about you and your devotion to your dogs. I have children too, older than yours, but I got some really negative feedback when I chose to work with my dog and teach my children how to work with my dog rather than re-home him when we were having problems with aggression (and we had the same couch thing - I still have chairs on my couches). We've come a long way and we were just talking today about what a great dog Willie is - not perfect, but so, so much better and I'm not even considering having be anywhere but with us. Any snarkiness we see now is pretty minor and totally manageable, and I bet you'll find the same thing with Buster. I don't know what happened with reports back to BRAT, but I have found that these forums have been very supportive. I hope you don't feel like you have to check out - hopefully you can ignore the negative and stay on for the positive. I wish you nothing but good luck and I think with your attitude and determination, you'll be able to work things out with Buster.
I think everyone would agree that working with any problem dog is much better than rehoming the dog.
I admire folks who are committed to doing this work.
I do think it does pay off.
Thank you both for your kind words. The thing that gets me about the whole thing is that when I posted this brat had already been informed. For somebody to think that I wouldn't contact them with an issue as serious as this should have their head examined. In the last few days buster has made great strides, and I will be the first to admit I when I do something wrong. With buster that is the case. I lost control over him and now I am working to get it back and keep it. I have to say that brat has been with me every step of the way, with out the conversation with my coordinator I would have more than likely gone no where with him ending in his being rehomed. I think that if he wasn't so receptive to the training we would have also considered new placement. If it is one thing I can say, I am only trying to do what is best for my dogs and my children, if this doesn't work (I am giving it two weeks or one more serious bite) then I think that he would do better in another home. I guess when I made my initial post I should have made it clear that brat had already been contacted. However lesson learned. Take care and thanks for everything.
I noticed today that Buster is up for adoption on the BRAT site.
Some things are just not meant to work.
Maybe he will find his forever home next time.