• Hi We just got 2 great basenjis a female (2yrs) & a male (3yrs). They're great socially with adults & the male is great with kids. We've had them about 4 days & yesterday a friend came with his 2 kids. The female growled when the kids came near her. I tried to relax her & sit her down to calm down which she did momentarily & after a few minutes started growling again. Once she stopped & felt more relax I set her down but as soon as I did she nipped at one of the kids.

    Any thoughts help with this behavior?


  • Give her some time. She is trying to adjust to a whole bunch of new things. If the kids were approaching her, she may have just been frightened and wanted them to stay away. This in not uncommon in basenjis that were not socialized around children as they matured. Some adult dogs never adjust to being around kids. Some can be trained to be tolerant, but never really enjoy them.

    You can start off by training her to "watch" you on command. That gives you control of any situation where the dog might get nervous. Then explain to the kids that the dog is afraid and they need to work with you to help her. That means they do exactly what you say 🙂 You can start off by having them toss treats to her one at a time (if she is even calm enough to eat). Note that I don't say "hand" treats to her..that is probably way too close for her comfort. As she gets more comfortable they can get a little closer. It may take a long time before they could ever touch her…or maybe then never will be able to. This is one of the times where the dog gets to say how much progress will be made.

    Good luck, and let us know how she settles in

  • Having your two for only 4 days ins't very long… I would say that they need more time to become settled into your home before introducing more 'strangers' to your household.
    If these basenjis were raised with children, then they may have had issues with kids in the past.
    When I have dogs arrive in my home that have NOT been raised around kids..
    I do not thrust them in the midst of my chaotic household.
    I give them time to adjust to the surroundings...
    then ease them into the scene.
    The dogs (generally RRs) that are sent to me for 'kid-proofing' are put into the mix from the get-go... and they adapt rather quickly.. but they are only here for training... so we know that they will be going home in a week or two.. so we don't push anything on them.

  • Kathy-how long is enough time for them to adjust to their surroundings. I'd like to introduce my 2 B's (ages 2 and 3) to some kids but I'm afraid it may be too soon. I've only had them for about 7 weeks.

  • I'm not an expert on this, but we got Joey at 10 months and it took him about a month or so to adjust to our home. He was not raised with kids, but he got on dandy with all five of ours from the start. Perhaps he was too scared to move "left or right" not sure of what would happen. I bet each dog is an individual and time will tell as to how long each will take to adjust.

  • Our basenji mix, Kandy, seemed to be happy with all the kids, but has recently begun to growl at our toddler (18 months old) At first, I thought maybe he was pulling her ears or biting her (he tries to imitate the two dogs - puts a 'tug of war' thing in his mouth, or if he sees them playing by biting at each other, he tries to jump into the frey and bite them, too, which we quickly stop but he is very persistant that he will play with them just as they are playing with each other!) But yesterday I caught her growling at him as he toddled to the couch. He wasn't even close enough to touch her, and it wasn't just a grumpy noise - it was a real growl.

    I grabbed Kandy into my lap (she loves to lay in my lap) and then grabbed my little boy and sat him on top of her. I talked to her firmly, telling her this was MY pup and she wasn't going to bite him EVER - not that she understood a word I said, but I hoped the tone would tell her she did wrong. I took his hand and (making sure she could see me do it) rubbed his hand on her head, ears, around her eyes. I made sure my hand was the one closest to her mouth, in case she got ugly about it (but she didn't)

    I never want her to think that growling at any of the kids is allowed, and I hoped my putting the little guy 'on top' was enough of a show of dominance for her to understand. Today, she has not made one noise at him at all. I'm sure we will have to repeat this little scenario more than once!

    I'm glad we got that over with yesterday - today I'm on crutches having had to chase the little wench across the neighborhood later that night (she tried to challenge a tied out chow chow, the little fool) and in my zeal to keep sight of her I stepped into a hole….sigh.

    I just know she'll learn to 'come' someday... in the meantime, the Italian in me is contemplating making concrete shoes for her....slow her down a bit...maybe.


  • I've seen people actually teach their dogs a down position whenever a baby/child is in the room. The thought behind is it that you're teaching the dog to be calm submissive whenever a child is in the room.

    You may also want to teach your toddler that there is NO playing with the dogs when they're excited. It could be a dangerous for them & the dogs. You can teach the baby to wait (shows them patience too! 🙂 ha!) until the doggy is down & then you can go & pet.

    Hope it helps!

  • We usually try to grab him up and keep him out of their way when the dogs are playing, but our house is incredibly small and it isn't easy to do - there aren't too many 'out of the way' places for any of us to go when they want a good romp! (we are making an offer this weekend on a much larger house with a big yard!)

    The two dogs, when they get excited in play are so rambunctious and obviously having such a good time, and the little guy just can't understand why we'd want to deprive him of all that fun. But he could be trampled so easily, we have to keep him up out of the way. Funny to see him put the tug-of-war toy in his mouth, though, and crawl over to one of the dogs to see if they will take it!

    The one advantage of having a tiny house is that there aren't too many circumtances where he's ever alone with the dogs, so we can train him as well as the two nutsies. The disadvantage is there is nowhere for the dogs to hide from him when they just want to sleep. Hopefully, our offer on the new house will be accepted!


  • @MamaofMany:

    (we are making an offer this weekend on a much larger house with a big yard!)

    Good Luck!!!!!


    as well as the two nutsies.

    "nutsies" - I love it! lol….

  • <_>

    Be aware that if she is growling because she is nervous about the toddler, having him sit on her could make it worse. I think you could accomplish the same goal, by having her sit and having him pet her. If she truly is afraid, forcing her to tolerate him may make her much more likely to bite him when you aren't looking.

    Dogs growl for a reason, and if you force them to supress the growl, they may just bite next time with no warning.

    And I would NEVER EVER want to teach my son that the answer to deal with a growling dog was to sit on it…... jmo....._

  • I don't know that she is 'afraid' of him - she only just began doing this behavior, and I'm not aware of anything he did to her to make her fear him. Could be biting (as the example of him trying to play the same way they do) but none of us can recall a time when he hurt her in such a way that she'd be afraid of him. He certainly wasn't doing anything threatening to her at the time. It seemed more to me (at the time) that she was trying to show that she was boss.

    What I had hoped it would do was to give her solid evidence through Alpha-Mama that she is not higher on the pecking order than he is. And she hasn't growled at him since - and we're all on high alert for signs of aggression. We are also watching him carefully (which makes having 7 other kids a real blessing!). Kandy seems to be acting toward him as she did prior to this incident, and I don't know that he's able to make any connection yet (about her action and mine)

    But I do thank you for your advice - its always good to have other view points to consider!


  • <_>

    It is really, really common for dogs to be wary of toddlers…they move funny, they are unpredictable, and their face is usually right at dog level, so they make eye contact in a way that adult humans don't. Most people who have issues between their child and their dog find that it is more likely to occur when the baby becomes a toddler, instead of prior to the walking stage.

    Your son wouldn't have had to actually do anything to make the dog uncomfortable...just his way of being would do it for now 😉 In my experience once the dog learns that the toddler doesn't mean any harm, the nervousness passes, and the dog is then habituated to toddlers (Yay!) So, it is better to make the toddler fun, fun, fun for the dog, instead of something even more scary...(i.e. dog thinks: I was just sitting here, then the scary thing came towards me, I growled to tell him I was nervous, then Mom called me over to sit on her lap, and then she forced the scary thing to sit on me)...yeah, I would definitely growl again if I had the chance as a dog...or just plain not want to be around kids.

    I doubt she was trying to show him she was boss, more likely she was trying to tell him to leave her alone....

    We have a three year old son. Four of our five dogs had not been heavily habituated to kids before he was born, and they were really nervous when he started to toddle. I made sure I gave out plenty of treats when ever Ethan was up and about. I encouraged the dogs to sleep in an area that he couldn't easily reach; and if any dog actually growled at him, I calmly told them not acceptable and they went to their crate.

    They are all pretty relaxed with him now...it just took some time and patience_

  • I agree with Andrea on all counts.
    Having been raised with Basenjis,
    they are DOGS…
    the can assume threat from "little people"
    in the case of the 2 and 3 y.o. basenjis...this is directed at jys1011:
    do you know their past? why were they returned?
    where did you get them? what 'issues' do they have

    This is a big thing when getting adults or rescues..
    I firmly believe that people turning dogs over to rescue OR
    back to a breeder do NOT tell the complete truth.
    They want to appear that they are doing good for the dog,
    but don't want to look bad either...
    they rarely mention that they have chained their dog for most of its
    or that they have crated the dog more than normal..
    or that the dog has bitten...
    it just isn't in their nature...
    people LIE...

    I just got a dog back that will be 7y.o. on Xmas...
    'supposedly' they travel more than they used to..
    yet they want to know if I place him elsewhere...
    and if I can't find a home to send him back to them...
    I swear you'd think they were on crack to even say that to me!
    Lest they forget that I am the breeder and make the decisions on MY dog!!! What idiots.
    Off my soapbox..
    time to go play with puppies!

  • so how is your girl doing now?

    when I adopted Beta from her puppymill settings i was told that it takes about 6 months for a reascue to adjust. at first she was completely submissive and ate out of the same bowl with caesar and slept with him and was wonderful. when six months came around she became food aggressive and started to pee in Caesars bed or any room that i wasnt in with her. she was trying to assert her dominance with the cats and dog. never with me. and for the record, she was the alpha.

    i would suggest that if your girl says she doesnt like kids, then it would be smart for you to work with her as if she hates kid. i find it is better to work this way because you will work harder to fix the problem vs. an accident happen.

    When I had Caesar in Basic Training we had an American Bulldog in our class. THe mother had 3 kids and the younges was 2yrs old. The dog, although was a puppy weighed near 60lbs….it was huge and going through regular puppy training like Caesar. The owner let that dog sleep in bed with them and the dog would nip at the kids when they would try to get into bed with their parents. the trainer explained that what the owner had done was create a pack with her dogs by having them in the bed. the effect was that the short kids were peers in the dog's eyes and they were putting them in the pack pecking order. the easy solution was to keep the dogs out of the bed so the kids were established as family members not peers to the dog.

    i had never thought about kids and their interaction with dogs that way, but it makes sense. this is one of the reasons you dont allow children into a dog park without adult supervision.

    so there are two theorys i am reading and they sound right to me? have the kids train the dog to acclimate to them through treats and at the same time it will teach your dog that they are in control by having the treats.

    remember that basenjis are pack dogs and seem to always want to be the alpha. hope this helps a bit. sounds like you are on top of it anyway!:)

  • <<remember that="" basenjis="" are="" pack="" dogs="" and="" seem="" to="" always="" want="" be="" the="" alpha="">>

    Mantis, I disagree with this….and I think it is a dangerous thing to tell pet owners all they have to do is be alpha, and their dog will respect them. Too many people think that means manhandling the dog into submission.

    IMO (and actually, not just MO) Basenjis are resourceful little dogs that will use whatever means they can to get what they want. They don't sit around trying to figure out how to stage a coup. If a person is not setting boundaries for appropriate behavior, a dog like a Basenji, is going to take advantage of that...has nothing to do with alpha..IMO :)</remember>

  • Hello! Sorry to have dropped out of view for a while. Its been very hectic here between the holidays, home schooling, house hunting, getting my oldest into college and having the whole 10 of us get the flu! (Seems the only thing the kids happily share are germs…)

    Things are actually going very well with Kandy and Sammy. Sammy (the JackRussel/spaniel pup) went into heat a month before they were scheduled to be spayed, which created a whole new world of fighting and other behavior problems, which we knew were temporary. The week before Christmas they were both spayed, recovered well, and things have quieted down quite a lot!

    Kandy, being the quirky dog she is, became the 'best friend' of the baby (who she growled at) following him about and sitting along side where ever he went, and then began to growl at the 4 year old! After carefully studying when this happened, I think she was convinced the part of the couch on which she usually sat was 'hers' and her growl was more territorial (she didn't growl at him or the baby any other time). So I made her get off the couch, had him sit next to her and pet her. Then I sat in 'her' spot with him in my lap, and after a time, invited her up to sit with us. We repeated this twice more. She hasn't growled at him since. I think now she understands the couch is not 'hers' exclusively so its not an issue anymore.

    She seems to get along just fine with everyone now, and we've not had any more of that behavior at all.

    In the mean time, we've trained her to sit and come on command (but I doubt she'll do so outside if she escapes again!) She's very smart. She's even quicker than Sammy.

    One little story, when we were taking the two dogs to the vet to be spayed, I had two of my teens with me to assure that both dogs would be properly controlled while I was filling out the paperwork. As we walked into the vet's, my two teens called out nearly simultaneously, "Look, Ma - a REAL basenji!" Someone was bringing a young male in that same morning. The kids were excited to see what a fullblooded basenji looked like.


  • I think it is a dangerous thing to tell pet owners all they have to do is be alpha, and their dog will respect them. Too many people think that means manhandling the dog into submission.

    Not what I was implying, but I suppose lots could be lost in translation when we share our experiences and opinions.

    Please dont beat or spank your dogs to assert yourself as alpha in any inhumane manner. And, for the record, I have never met a basenji that didnt want to be alpha…in my opinion...

    Sounds like you are doing great with your basenji now!! Have fun.

  • I have an older basenji that I am having problems with. Ayesha was a rescue and is 9 years old. When my granddaughters come over( they are 4 and 3) she is ok, for a while. Then she starts growling and bareing teeth. I had the girls give her treats yesterday. She is not food agressive with me, but the oldest tried to hand her some food she had dropped, she growled and nipped at her. Ayesha has a special place in my heart, but I won't put up with this. Please help!!

  • growling at the kids is their way of controlling them.

    I would teach the kids a few tricks that your basenji knows and let the kids give her a treat once she does what they ask.

  • you will either have to communicate to your basenji that the kids are in your pack and not hers, or they( kids) will need to communicate it.

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