Dominant Male against humans

I am concerned. We have two basenjis. The female, Stella, was a pet store dog who just turned 1 in late November. The male, Buster, we rescued through BRAT back in October. Buster has always had some separation issues, wherein he would try to grab our leg or arm (what ever was closest) to either keep us from leaving or from leaving him behind. We understood why, and have been working with him on that and he has made some improvement. Recently, he was sleeping in our bed (which is normal) and I went to push him over to make room (which has never been a problem), and he growled and bit me (pretty hard I might say). Luckily enough I had a sweatshirt on and he did not break the skin, but he left a large bruise on my arm. I don't want to return him to BRAT, he is usually such a sweetheart! Any suggestions with what to do about this?

I read somewhere that the first thing to do when dealing w/ dominance issues is to make the dog sleep on the floor - not on the bed. When I first got Tayda she was having some territorial issues and made her sleep on the ground. It took a few days becuase everytime I'd push her off she'd jump right back on, but after about the 5000th time, she gave up and slept on the floor….

where in ct are you? I just moved to Wethersfield about 6 months ago!

Thank you. We've tried the pushing off the bed too. And you're right, he just keeps coming back up. For a while, he would wait till we were asleep, and then come up (we would find him on the bed in the morning ).

We're in Branford.

Well, I would start by not pushing him right now. He has shown you that he WILL bite to protect his space. I agree with the above post, he needs to sleep somewhere other than the bed, until he can earn bed privledges back. But you will need to do some ground work training so that you can ask him to get off the bed/couch/ whatever and reward him when he cooperates. And set it up so he can just go get on the bed whenever he wishes.

Finding a good behaviorist, or positive reinforcement trainer who has worked with independant minded dogs would be a great idea.

I think he might benefit from "Nothing In Life Is Free". Start making him work for his priviledges. Does he know basic commands like sit and down? If so, ask him to sit before getting things like his dinner, going out the door, or even being given permission to get on the couch or bed. If he doesn't know basic commands, look into a good positive reinforcement obedience class.

http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/leader.html
http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm

Yep, a little time learning that the bed is a priviledge might help. Also you may want to have a full thyroid panel done just to help rule out medical reasons for bad behavior.

There are some dogs that just don't do well when woken up quickly too. Make sure you talk to him before you go to move him to let him know you're planning on doing something. And you could use it as a positive training opportunity. Ask him to move and give him a cookie when he does. If he thinks he might get a cookie, there's more incentive to having to move over.

In addition to the above (especially the part about bringing in a trainer/behaviorist!) you may want to attach a 4 foot leash to a noncorrective collar while he is in the house. This way if you need to move him, you can do so without getting bit.

Thank you so much for your help! I was talking to my husband about Buster. He and I are working on some of the things that you all have suggested (i.e. not letting him on the bed, making him sit before doing anything). What is nice is that prior to this event, I always talked to Buster before doing anything, so we aren't changing everything in his routine.

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