Recent aggressive behavior

Hi! I am having a really hard time lately with my basenji boy.

I have two basenjis. One is 17 years old, one is about 6 years old.

The older one is really on his last leg, to be honest. He is incontinent, he wanders around in circles a lot, and does a lot of sleeping. He stares into corners. He falls into his food and water bowls at every meal… I am ok with all this - he's 17 years old, after all! Let him do whatever he wants, know what I mean? My hope is that he lasts as long as he lasts, and has a good home until his last days.

The problem is that the younger one, who really is the dominant of the pair, is starting to get snippy and growly. When younger b is in his little bed, and the old foggy comes wandering by, he will just growl and go for him! Completely inprovoked. Sometimes there is some food aggression. Often he will steal the senior's treats if he doesn't eat fast enough...

We have tried to get younger b out of the habit, but it's not working. We make him come to us and sit, behave, stay. But this is not working, and it's not right. I don't know why this is all happening all of a sudden.

To add another level of concern, I am 8 months pregnant with out first. I am terrified of younger B becoming a danger to the baby. I'd hate to have to rehome him - honestly, he's my first baby, and it would break both of our hearts to be separated.

We are trying to give the younger one the same amount of attention as before, since he probably can sense I am pregnant. We try to keep the routine the same. But there are of course some changes...

We asked our vet at his last check up 3 weeks ago. She says he's a very alpha dog (he has snapped at her during a shot). I am not happy with the lack of explanation, but at least it's not some medical change, as far as she thinks...

Anyway, any advice about this recent behavior change would be helpful.

Did you have a full thyroid panel run at his check up? Not just the in house test but the full panel? Has his vision been checked recently, could he be startled that your older dog is "suddenly" there because he didn't see him coming? It sounds like these are new behaviors for the 6 year old, is that true or has he always been like this?

If they are new behaviors and they are not medical, it could be because there have been changes to his routine due to your pregnancy. Have you done positive training classes with him? When you call over to you and have him sit and wait for your older dog to eat, do you reward him with treats?

It could be something medically wrong with the older dog. I know of someone who had 2 nonbasenji dogs. Female suddenly started attacking the male; male was "off". Did exploratory surgery on the male only to find his entire body full of cancer. I could see where the oldster was too old to stay with the pack in the younger dog's instincts. Sad, but we do choose to live with very primitive dogs who are very close to nature in their mannerisms.

Did you have a FULL thyroid pannel done on the 7year old? Other medical reasons for behavior changes: Addisons, tick born diseases, or pain (like a slipped disc for example). There could be other medical reasons, I'm certainly not a vet, but those are the ones that spring to mind.

Dog aggression does not equate to aggression to people. However, if I were you, I'd find a good trainer (positive methods) and ask about a new baby class for the dog. I also believe there are some good books out there (dogwise dot com is a great resource for dog books) on bringing a new baby home. Do that NOW. even if you can't find a class, 1 or 2 privates or just a checklist of what to do and how to bring the new baby home will help. (And congrats on your upcoming human puppy!)

I'm currently make my way through an Aloff dvd on Dog Aggression and I'm very impressed with her. I know she has a book out and I'd love to have it, but it is a pricey book. No idea if you could find it at your library. would be worth looking up.

Otherwise management of these two shouldn't be too bad. Realistically the 17 year old won't be around much longer. Always feed/treat/give chewies when they are separated, never when they are together.

Also, you may want to try a DAP diffuser. may not help, but it might. i think it would be worth a try.

it's a little hard to give you more specific things to do over the internet without seeing what is going on, but hopefully some of the above will help.

No thyroid testing yet. I will check into that.

But I am really interested in what you said about the vision. He has Pannus, so maybe it's worse that I thought. He gets daily drops, but maybe it's progressing more. I won't say "Eureka! That's it!", but if that is part of the puzzle, it's good to know!

He gets lots of treats, but I think I need to start carrying them around in the pocket as more immediate rewards for good behavior.

We keep treat cannisters in various places around the house so they are easily at hand to reward good behavior.

It sounds like you have some good places to start to rule out medical issues. Please keep us updated on how things are going.

A subject rarely talked about is the simple fact that in wild dog groups, packs, etc., the old ones, sick, or injured, are at times considered a problem and attacked and pushed away. I think, at times, this is related to a formerly dominant dog loosing status and the younger one wanting to supplant him or her. It also seems to be a natural response to secure the food chain.

I have only been involved with Basenjis for about five years now but I have been involved with high caliber dogs of all breeds for going on fifteen. I rate basenjis as one of the highest caliber breeds I have encountered primarily due to some semi-wild instincts and traits they manifest quite readily. They are a "hard" dog and can easily manipulate households.

Your problem is difficult to cure with human rationalization. I am not saying this is what anyone is doing here. What I am saying is that we as humans have a horrible habit of human emotion transference. Dogs do not view things like we do and there response to human correction is proportionate to how important they perceive the correction. Or, more importantly, where they view the human relative to pack structure. It is really that simple.

In home situations pack structure is really important and the dogs can never be on "top" in any way, shape, or form, they absolutely have to be second to every human to include babies.

Depending on how severe the young B is acting, you may not be able to solve the problem completely and you simply have to watch the two dogs whenever they are together. If the behavior is correctible, then strict obedience training will probably help. The young one needs to understand that his behavior is generating a correction. This is a problem because most correction in the average dog household is purely reactionary and after the fact, or in this case, aggression has occurred. The key to good correction is catching the body language of aggression and correction before an overt act is committed. I apply this principle to all of the police dog training I do and it is the same for house dogs.

For what it is worth, food, praise, and clicker training will probably not solve this problem.

Jeff

@GeorgiaK9:

A subject rarely talked about is the simple fact that in wild dog groups, packs, etc., the old ones, sick, or injured, are at times considered a problem and attacked and pushed away. I think, at times, this is related to a formerly dominant dog loosing status and the younger one wanting to supplant him or her. It also seems to be a natural response to secure the food chain.

I have only been involved with Basenjis for about five years now but I have been involved with high caliber dogs of all breeds for going on fifteen. I rate basenjis as one of the highest caliber breeds I have encountered primarily due to some semi-wild instincts and traits they manifest quite readily. They are a "hard" dog and can easily manipulate households.

Your problem is difficult to cure with human rationalization. I am not saying this is what anyone is doing here. What I am saying is that we as humans have a horrible habit of human emotion transference. Dogs do not view things like we do and there response to human correction is proportionate to how important they perceive the correction. Or, more importantly, where they view the human relative to pack structure. It is really that simple.

In home situations pack structure is really important and the dogs can never be on "top" in any way, shape, or form, they absolutely have to be second to every human to include babies.

Depending on how severe the young B is acting, you may not be able to solve the problem completely and you simply have to watch the two dogs whenever they are together. If the behavior is correctible, then strict obedience training will probably help. The young one needs to understand that his behavior is generating a correction. This is a problem because most correction in the average dog household is purely reactionary and after the fact, or in this case, aggression has occurred. The key to good correction is catching the body language of aggression and correction before an overt act is committed. I apply this principle to all of the police dog training I do and it is the same for house dogs.

For what it is worth, food, praise, and clicker training will probably not solve this problem.

Jeff

Hi Jeff…are you Jeff as in Axel and Ru? What do you mean by 'high caliber'?

Yes, this is that "jeff". 🙂

Axel, Ru and Phoenix are doing fine. Axel is learning how to deal with real forest in the south rather than the grasslands of Cali. He likes all the of the new critters, that is for sure.

Hi caliber is a dog that is mentally and physically very powerful. Prone to being tough to train at times. In my line of work it is valued as a very positive trait.

Jeff

@GeorgiaK9:

Yes, this is that "jeff". 🙂

Axel, Ru and Phoenix are doing fine. Axel is learning how to deal with real forest in the south rather than the grasslands of Cali. He likes all the of the new critters, that is for sure.

Hi caliber is a dog that is mentally and physically very powerful. Prone to being tough to train at times. In my line of work it is valued as a very positive trait.

Jeff

Great! Glad to see you here.

hi and good luck on your baby!!, try some apple spray it does help and my boy was very, very, very alpha with me too! . i used the apple spray for 2-3 weeks and haven't had a problem with him till the kitten came in and no there is no problem at all! i took alpha role over again!,

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.