Snapping puppy
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  • I had a shock tonight. MY little zoey I have had a week (she is 12 wks old) and has been so good growled and snapped at my 8 yr old daughter when she went to pick her up. I grabbed her muzzle gave a little squeeze and told her no. When I went to pick her up she growled and snapped at me. I grabbed her muzzle again and told her no firmly then tried to pick her up again it took 2 more times before she settled and stop snapping at me, but my daughter still cant pick her up. Wondering if its because zoe knows that she is a little afraid her now. This came out of no where. My daughter has been very gentle with zoe i dont know where this is coming from but want to stop it early. Any suggestions on how I should handle this.

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  • You may want to contact her breeder and ask how she handles challenges like this. I would immediately stop squeezing her muzzle as a punishment. I would try to slowly make her realize that being picked up is a good thing, by treating her every time someone approaches. Gradually get more physical with her, all the while giving treats while you pet her all over, etc. You want her to think 'I love it when people approach me, and pick me up' If you force her to do what you want right now, you will only make her defensive reaction worse.

    Was she sleeping when she was getting picked up? Try waking her up gently by calling her name, and even giving her a little treat when she rises and comes to you.

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  • I second Quercus, punishing a Basenji in a negative physical manner like squeezing her muzzle could make her even more aggressive and a real danger to your child. As Quercus asked.. what was the events leading up to the dog snapping at your daughter? Did you watch the whole thing? Was she sleeping, was she next to a toy or food she was trying to guard? Was she really tired and trying to tell your daughter she didn't want to play? Basenjis respond best with positive reinforcement training, lots of practice and treats every time someone picks her up would be a wise investment now.

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  • Well, i dont know if this will help as its not quite the same, but thought i'd add it as a suggestion.

    My Maya (who is 11 weeks) is really not a biter or anything, but she has on a couple of occassions grabbed onto my hand if she's been play fighting with one of the pugs. She obviously thought that i should be joining in!! What i did with her is make my hand into a fist (harder for her to bite) and say a very firm "no" - really loudly! She immediately stopped what she was doing and looked rather stunned!!

    I did that the two times she had a little chew of me, and the last time she did it was about 10 days ago and she has not done it since, even when playing with the pugs and her toys. They are such intelligent dogs as a breed, and Maya certainly hates being told off so i think that was enough for her. In a pack the parents of the pups would bark/yelp loudly to tell the pups off so i guess shouting "no" had the same effect.

    It might be worth trying if the other suggestions dont work as it has certainly helped with Maya. But as i said, she never has been much or a biter or chewer anyway.. I imagine squeezing the muzzle would have the opposite affect to what you want and would just encourage her to snap at you again.

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  • I squeeze her muzzle because thats what the breeder told me to do to stop unacceptable behavior. Its not a hard squeeze just to get her attention. Zoe was trying to get on the couch so my daughter reached down to help her up grabbing her under the belly. That is why I was so surprised she has never growled before except when introducing her to another dog. This morning she growled at her again but this time instead of letting go and backing away my daughter kept holding her and told her no. I had her pick her up again and she didnt growl we praised her and gave her treats but I will keeps an eye on things. Thanks for all the advice. I was worried last night. This is my daughters first dog. She grew up with our cat who is 16 so a little timid around this pup. So I am working on her behavior as well. I grew up with basenjis so that is why I picked this breed. I just want my daughter to have the great relationship I had thanks again

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  • I agree with the others who have already posted. The puppy needs to learn that your daughter's presence and touch means good things. Have your daughter feed the puppy treats while she is touching her. Give treats before she picks the puppy up as well as after. The puppy may be growling and snapping at your daughter when she picks her up because it is uncomfortable or hurts. Children can unintentionally pinch the puppy when they pick them up or hold them in a way that is uncomfortable for the puppy, the puppy then starts to associate the child with that discomfort or pain. Using treats can help change the puppy's association.

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    Have your daughter take this put to some basic classes.
    That will help them learn to work together.

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  • @lvoss:

    I agree with the others who have already posted. The puppy needs to learn that your daughter's presence and touch means good things. Have your daughter feed the puppy treats while she is touching her. Give treats before she picks the puppy up as well as after. The puppy may be growling and snapping at your daughter when she picks her up because it is uncomfortable or hurts. Children can unintentionally pinch the puppy when they pick them up or hold them in a way that is uncomfortable for the puppy, the puppy then starts to associate the child with that discomfort or pain. Using treats can help change the puppy's association.

    Agreed! And even if the puppy is growling at the daughter just because she is trying to tell her she doesn't WANT her to pick her up, using treats to change the association should fix the behavior.

    It is kind of a hard situation to assess over the internet. With adults in this situation (if this is merely a puppy trying to express her irritation with being picked up) I would encourage you to pick her up, and just ignore the growling, and not put her down until she is calm. But you can't really take that chance with kids, IMO. You risk damaging the bond that is growing with them for both of them. If the dog is supposed to be your daughter's dog, you really want to make sure that they have positive experiences with each other.

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  • How old is your daughter? It could be the puppy doesn't feel secure when your daughter picks her up and is afraid of being dropped. I'd say follow the above, but in addition perhaps your daughter should not pick up the puppy for right now.

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  • @agilebasenji:

    How old is your daughter? It could be the puppy doesn't feel secure when your daughter picks her up and is afraid of being dropped. I'd say follow the above, but in addition perhaps your daughter should not pick up the puppy for right now.

    I would totally agree with this….

    And I am quite surprised that her breeder would give that advise (squeeze the muzzle)

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  • I'm also very surprised your breeder would suggest squeezing the muzzle.. I think if she is already having some fear issues I would highly recommend stopping the muzzle corrections. I'm sure it's not violent, but in the dog's mind it's still an aggressive action against a fearful dog which only leads to problems down the road. Treats treats and more treats, and being quiet and still while holding her until she stops growling, I think would be the more efficient way around this problem.

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  • My daughter is 8 yrs but dont be picturing some petite little girl lol, she is only 4 inches short of 5 feet. We have been taking all the advice given and working with it. The treats seem to work somewhat because she is such a chow hound all thoughts go out of her head except the food. The growls were less intense and fewer and she hasnt snapped again. I have told my daughter not to pick her up for now and will continue with the treats.
    It already seems a little better. I have explained to her that zoe is just telling her she is doing something she doesn't like, our cat will also grab with his teeth to let us know when he has had enough attention. She was raised to respect the animals rights and to leave him alone then. But the trust isnt there with zoe yet, our cat never has bitten he just gently grabs with his teeth. Zoey also didnt bite her just snapped but hearing the growl made it more aggressive.

    I dont want you to think I'm abusing her. I grab her muzzle and hold it when I give a firm no. I did use the word squeeze but that wasnt the best word. The breeder said to do this to get her attention on you when you tell them no. Its not a punishment. I'm trying my best to do everything right. Its been such a long time since I have had a dog. But like raising children I guess we all make mistakes along the way.
    '

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  • I don't think that grabbing her muzzle is abusive, I am just concerned that it is ineffectual, and often will make an irritated, or frightened dog more upset, and make the problem worse. A muzzle grab as a correction (or consequence, or punishment, whatever you want to call it, it's all the same thing) is an established means of telling the dog "I don't like that behavior, stop it"…which is fine in some circumstances. But with some dogs, it merely makes them more angry/defensive; and it certainly isn't appropriate or safe for a child to be performing with the dog (I know you said you are the one doing the correction, not your daughter :) just thought I would put that out there for others reading.)

    Many of us here avoid physical corrections, because in our experience, it has made behavior problems worse, not better. Basenjis are "different", as we all know...and what works for a lot of dogs as far as corrections, may not work for Basenjis.

    Don't worry about making mistakes..we all have in the past, and will in the future :) Dog training has changed TREMENDOUSLY (I can't emphasize that enough) over the past 15 years. Techniques that used to be 'the only way' are now unacceptable to most dog trainers. We all learn as we go :)

    Keep asking questions, and sharing your experiences, and we will help you however we can :) Think of it as free behavioral advice, from all different points of view :)

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    When Stella was a pup, she would get quite mouthy and pushy, so we would restrain her movement (hold her to the floor) until she relaxed and calmed down. She would only get a little aggressive, but we both thought that it was just crazy puppy behavior. We have found that the restraint was enough to show her that she is not in charge, and she needs to do as we say.

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