• First off, please try to stay non-judgmental. We would like nothing more than to keep him and free ourselves of worry. My partner and I are just uncertain about what will be best for this dog. We adopted our Basenji-Cross, named Thabo, from the SPCA a few months ago. At the time I did some breed research and found out that Basenji's were affectionate dogs but very energetic and easily distracted. Since then I've been told that Basenji puppies socialize more aggressively than other dogs and are prone to aggression with other breeds. Please correct me if this is a untrue.

    Thabo is probably crossed with a german shepard or collie. He is about 65lbs. From what I've researched I believe his aggressive behavior towards dogs is fear based. When we adopted Thabo we were told he was three years old when he is in fact less than a year. We were hoping to adopt an older dog because our other dog a male golden retriever-collie, named Lebowski, is only a year old as well. They play pretty rough and my partner is concerned that if we keep Thabo it will affect Lebowski's behaviour.

    We live in a basement apartment in a rural town. Right now my partner is on Summer Vacation so he is able to take the dogs into the yard to run around several times a day but soon he will be back at work. We are able to run and swim our dogs down by the river but Thabo must be kept on a long rope and once my partner is back at work we will only able to get them out for a walk before work, a pee-break at lunch, and a longer walk or run at night. We have been aiming to get Lebowski well trained enough to run off leash while we are bike riding on trails or jogging. I am concerned that because of Thabo's aggressive behavior towards other dogs and his insatiable desire to hunt birds it won't be safe to bring him along. Running in the yard or in a field isn't nearly enough to exhaust this little guy.

    This evening we are having a dog trainer come into our home for a visit, we are hoping she can shed some light on his behavior.

    Our landlord is anxious about us having Thabo and gave us an ultimatum that we need to muzzle him when we have him outside, or find a new place to live.

    I'm not sure we have all the resources to give Thabo the attention he needs. I know we're probably not the first people to make this mistake and I feel terrible. Has anyone one else had to make this type of decision? I know every dog is different but can aggressive Basenji's be retrained and trusted to be off leash and with other dogs?

  • Any dog can be aggressive… not particular to just the Basenji breed. When you have a mix breed, you never really know what you have... and makes, IMO training that much more difficult. Due to his size I would say that the mix is more Shepard then Basenji... and Shepards are herding dogs.. so chasing is not uncommon.
    In my considered experience, Basenjis are truly better with other breeds then Basenjis, so your idea that the aggression is based on the other breeds doesn't totally hold up.
    Because you have a mix, your challenge is different then a purebred (however it really holds true with proper breeding and litter socialization regardless) and Basenji hunt mostly by sight and do not fix just to birds...

  • I've seen lots of wonderful things with the Control Unleashed program. It's a book available from dogwise.com or cleanrun.com. I believe the exercises in the book, applied with an experienced person, can help your dog. (There's also a list which you can find by going to controlunleashed.net.) In my experience, basenjis can be same sex aggressive, BUT I've found that in many breeds. I have a Springer bike attachement that works really well with my basenjis (but I only take one at a time) and there are hands-free leashes so he can go jogging with you. Hopefully your behaviorist can give you some direction, but PLEASE! do not use punitive measures to "help" your pup regardless of the breed.

  • If the muzzle is the worst thing you have to do with your b-x than its not that awful.
    Many cities make some breeds be on muzzles whenever they are outside.
    But it might be more than that yes?
    Let us know what your behaviorist says.

  • First - big KUDOS to you for adopting Thabo, but you should have decided to give him the training he needs - which is what is advocated highly for Basenji and for that matter all animal behavior training as "positive reinforcement or reward training". You cannot "fear" your fur-child into submission. It takes time and from what I read - you've had Thabo for only - "a few months". Please for your kind expression to save this baby, take the time to learn basic obedience with him. It will help all involved training-wise. I have a B-mix Duke who in my experience with dogs/animals has been the ultimate challenge to me. After enrolling at Pet Smart's obedience training classes, I have learned an entire new cooperative life with my "best friend". Also and most importantly, I have received an incredible amount of support from many owners and trainers on this forum. I have never felt alone with my quest to save/salvage my dog. Duke was - sometimes still is - a challenge, but he and I trust each other - he is my boy. I will never abandon him. He would never allow it anyway - cause he knows he is too cute!!!

    I would never allow Duke to go unleashed, except at my father-in-laws 30 acres in the north of Michigan. He is not a dog that would ever - ever learn re-call. SO - if you want a Golden Retriever or Labrador type - you should decide to surrender you pup to a "Rescue group", either Basenji or Shepherd group. Please do the right thing for Thabo and be patient for time with training or time with a rescue group - please don't abandon him.

  • IMO, all of the issues you mention can be overcome, or dealt with fairly easily. Lots of dogs, not just Basenjis, are reactive/aggressive towards other dogs….there is no guarantee that the next dog you replace Thabo with wouldn't act the same way.

    If you *do decide to rehome him, I would guess there is a clause in the contract you signed with the SPCA (hopefully) that they have right of first refusal...or iow, if you can't keep the dog for whatever reason, they will take him back and rehome him.

    Hopefully your behaviorist will be able to help you find ways to manage and possibly change the behaviors that you don't like in Thabo, and help him settle into your family.

  • Hi everyone,

    I wanted to thank you all for your advice and give you an update on Thabo. It was rude of me not to follow up. It has been a challenging period on my life for both me and my partner these past few months and the additional stress of working with Thabo has kept us busy. We have not had a session with our trainer since the first one. She would like him muzzle trained first. We are doing so with a nylon muzzle right now.

    About a month ago we reached out to our community for help. Thabo was getting out of control with his barking and aggression. We have done obedience classes with Lebowski our other dog and we continually practice basic obedience commands with Thabo but these measures have not been enough.

    The first person we called was the SPCA where we adopted him. The women there plainly said if we returned Thabo to them based on the description of his behaviours they would put him down. The alternative no-kill adoption agency said they would not be able to help either. We are still unsure about whether or not we should be keeping him. I feel like most of the time we don't have the answers or the time to find them. He is getting good consistent care with us but we are really inexperienced in this matter and worried about making mistakes. We are also worried about how Thabo is affecting our lives. We are going away for a few weeks next March and regardless of how obedient Thabo is of us we don't know who we could ask to take him on during that time? We don't know anyone who we could trust to handle an aggressive dog.

    We have had Thabo for almost five months now. The barking inside the house has subsided slightly as he settles in. For excercise we are starting to let him run off leash with his muzzle on a walk through the woods that people rarely frequent. Prior to this Thabo only got to really run in the fenced dog yard out front of our home but I think this was a mistake. Whether or not we are in the yard with Thabo, when someone or some dog walks by he he will charge over to the fence and growl and bark. Telling him no, putting him on his lead for awhile, bringing him inside, nothing we've tried stops this behaviour.

    Again, thank you for all your input. I will definitely be posting again with more questions. I'm also going to put up some pictures of Thabo in the gallery. The trainer says he is probably a Basenji-Pit-Bull cross.

  • Happy to see u are trying diffent things for ur pup 🙂 IMO it sounds like HE DOESN'T know UR the pack leader .. I have3 dogs and a few mths back had an issue with the boys not even thinking about it cuz there 3 yrs old i settled back on them and didnt notice that THEY took over the pack leader spot so after the issue i worked VERY hard with them for about a Month to make sure they remember in there little heads of theirs that I am the leader . And all has been well since then. Like i said IMO it sounds like HE is taken the Pack leader role on Like u said in the case of him charging the fence Ect my boys would do that to a point they would bark scratch ect But since i worked hard with them for about a mth they now will go to the fence bark and when they see me turn the corner they will automaticly back off . I hope ur trainer can help with this if not there are ALOT of good books out there about "being the pack leader"
    Good Luck !

  • IMO you need to find a trainer who will train him NOW, not when he is muzzle trained. Charging the fence is a correctable problem that needs to be addressed. The longer his aggression goes on the harder, and longer, it will take to correct it. I would contact the first trainer again, see what she says, then if you get feedback that makes you uncomfortable, you need to find another one. I'm sorry, but I've had aggressive dogs and this needs to be addressed before something happens.

  • Sign up for obedience classes now!
    You will be much happier with this pup, your landlord will be more tolerant, the neighbors will be happy, and the local constabulary will not be knocking at your door.

  • I feel for you, and you'll do what's best for you and your pup…My ex bf had adopted a bullmastiff/shepherd mix from the animal protective league, we were told he was dominant, difficult to walk on a leash, not well behaved in the home..what fools we were for believing all this..he was great in the home, great with humans, and great on a leash..in the back fenced in yard, until he saw another dog...he wasn't dominant, he was viscious..one particular day Max bent the gate door, and he bolted..right for a shepherd walking with his owner..scared us all, the police were called and we were given a warning..we paid their vet bill, and worked with Max...You could tell his previous owners had him properly trained..he listened so well, so well..until he saw a dog...we had taken him to many ball parks where my son was playing, children would climb all over him, he loved it..but with another dog, we held the leash tight, and kept him close..One unfortunate night, at a ball park, Max broke the leash out of my ex's hand and tore for a toy poodle, took it in his mouth..it was horrific..he did not kill the poodle, cut his ear up though...I think there is a difference between viscious and aggressive...

    Anyhow, after speaking with several, and being advised this behavior would not change, he was older and his blood lust was deep, my ex chose for the safety of others, we could not keep him.

    In July of '07 after weeks of my children begging for another dog, I caved..my ex talked endlessly to my children about the responsibilites of a puppy...training a puppy, etc., etc., we chose to adopt through a local animal rescue..and found an adorable black shep/husky litter that we went to visit..and in the crate next to these two little girls was this little brown dog with white paws..and he was so damn cute..every time my daughter walked near the crate..he got up and ran figures 8s..that was it..we were talking this little brown brother home..we had done the basic, come, sit ..stay..etc., training, and he'd listen here and there..but not like a shep would.. We kept Sultan crated during the day unless someone was home, and then for short periods of time when someone wasn't home..and OMG...the destruction...It's been a year and a half now..and now I've learned I have a B-mix..and thank you all for being here, I've read more in the last few weeks and learned more..and I guess I'm fortunate, I have a fenced back yard that he plays in all day..and since he's mixed, he tolerates the cold (not the rain) I'm also not home much, I work two jobs to survive the no health insurance issue, so Sultan is home most days alone and at night with the kids here and there, but he's adjusted to the schedules, and when I'm home, we play...

    I had spent many nights crying over this pup...but he's mine, and I'm his...

    You'll do what's best for all of you...

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