Biting bitch

So I have this friend who has a tri 9yr old female - very protective of her human caretaker. Unfortunately Maggie hates Gossy (she would attack or try to whenever she saw Gossy) and apparantly remembers that I am Gossy's caretaker. Maggie has bitten me three times now - the first time I think she was trying to get at Gossy and bit me by mistake but the other times I was visiting without Gossy and Maggie just walloped me when I came in the door.
Last night was the worst, she really cut skin. I didn't see her facial expression (dark foyer) when I entered so not sure if she displayed aggressive signs. But after I came in and sat and talked awhile (and bandaged up the wound) then Maggie came over to be petted, like she knew she did wrong and was apologizing (at least I like to think of it that way).

The odd part is that Maggie doesn't do this with all visitors, so it's not just basic resource guarding but there's some dislike in her behavior as well.

I know there are techniques for redirecting a dog's behavior to teach them to be calm when someone comes to the door etc. And I seem to remember something about directed aggression but can't readily find the discussions. Can someone post a few ideas that have worked for you that we could try?

Wizard do you think Maggie's biting behavior is related to establishing dominance in her territory so whenever a new person or animal enters she bites them or attempts to bite them to establish this?

As you said its not all people, so Maggie must have a sense of who she feels Dominant to and who she might not.

If this is the case, then from what I understand you have to find a way to establish a higher status in Maggies eyes. One way, if you can stand it is to personally run this dog through some obedience training where she has to earn pets, treats, and rewards from you. In that way you will be establishing a bond with Maggie as well as a hierarchy in the relationship you have with her. Of course your friend her caretaker will also have to be on board with this.

I found this article on the web and felt it might be useful:

http://dogs.about.com/cs/disableddogs/a/aggression_heal.htm

Jason

Wizard could last night have been because you say (dark foyer) the dog was just protecting its home?

Rita Jean

I'm guessing maybe she picked up Gossy's scent on you as soon as you walked in and that kicked in that threatening feeling. Then realized it was just you and no Gossy.

Where did they get this girl from? If its a breeder, have the owners discussed this with them? I would have the owners put the dog on a leash when your coming over.
When you walk by her on the leash drop a small bit of chicken..but ignore her.
If she come to you for attention, if you an have her sit, or have the owners have her sit, then give her another bit of treat.
But mostly ignore her, until she doesn't react to you at all.
IMO, most b's who bite need someone who knows the breed to watch them and see what is triggering the bite a long term breeder or rescue person can help, if they can't afford a professional trainer to come in.

Thanks for all the comments – I think we will contact the breeder and in the meantime try the leash and treats. Maybe Maggie doesn't see as well either (I noticed her eyes didn't seem as clear as my Gossy's) -- my friend can mention it the next time she takes her to the vet.

I forgot to mention that my friend did say she had obedience training when she was younger but it hasn't been reinforced much after the dog got older. As suggested maybe my friend will have to work on that again too.

I think suggesting getting the eyes checked at the next vet visit is a very smart move. From my reading, reinforcement of the obedience training should help find the solution although it is suggested that once Maggie learns where her place is, that training should be continued where the dog has to work for everything, attention, treats, and so forth, to help the dog remember their status.

Jason

Also, if this bitch has taken a dislike to your bitch…. and/or the other way around, she would pick up Gossy's scent on you... they remember a long, long time... I have seen it happen before....

Houston

They say that scent is the strongest of all senses, so Maggie smelling Gossy on you could definietly be it, and if she also has issues seeing that would probably only increase her notion for control..or nervousness.

Where did she bite you…were you talking to her, or reaching for her at the time?

It could be so many reasons that it probably isn't productive to try to speculate *why she does it (though it is for sure interesting to speculate). Her owner definitely needs to get control of this issue...it probably would be best to have a behaviorist who practices positive reinforcement training help with this situation, because it would be very easy to make this behavior worse accidentally.

Ivy doesn't like strangers in her home..at all...she doesn't even really like my mom very much. It doesn't matter if the person is familiar with basenjis or dogs or not..if you disrespect her personal space (in her mind) she will snap..but usually doesn't make contact. We haven't done much behavioral work trying to change this...mainly because we deal with it by putting her in her crate when people come over. It works for us....I have no doubt we could improve her feeling around strangers with some work.

goodness, has nobody mentioned thyroid yet? Hmmmm, 9 year old basenji. Certainly have that looked at, especially if this is a new behavior. Additionally, get her eyes checked.

I'd also look into a good postive trainer or behaviorist. This might be a good place to start:
http://www.karenpryoracademy.com/find-a-trainer

Also, suggest picking up a copy of Control Unleashed. This is a great program to help with impulse control. And start doing this:
http://www.dogscouts.org/Protocol_for_relaxation.html
This will help the dog learn that life goes on around her and she doesn't need to take action.

According to my friend, Maggie has never done this to any other visitor. That's why we thought it was that she could smell/sense Gossy on me. But certainly it could be something medical that could progress further. Anyway my friend is open to ideas (and concerned about the behavior) and I'll copy the sections in Control Unleashed (I have a copy) for her so we'll see how things progress.

This might be relevant…

My cat of Questionable Heritage is the most friendly animal anyone will ever meet. She has never met a stranger. There is a very rare visitor who does not wind up with a cat on his or her lap.
My step-mom is wonderful with animals, pet-sits for everyone and can approach the meanest junk-yard dogs anyone has ever seen. She can even "pet" bees. They won't sting her.
They met each other when Sumi was a kitten. Sumi took an instant dislike to my step-mom. To this day, when Mom comes to visit, Sumi hisses, whacks her on the leg and stalks out of the room. Sumi has never done this with anyone else in her life.

My point is, sometimes, animals take a disliking to someone for no apparent reason and there is no convincing the animal otherwise. It is not necessarily a reflection on either the person or the animal.

Perhaps this is the case here.

@AJs:

This might be relevant…

My cat of Questionable Heritage is the most friendly animal anyone will ever meet. She has never met a stranger. There is a very rare visitor who does not wind up with a cat on his or her lap.
My step-mom is wonderful with animals, pet-sits for everyone and can approach the meanest junk-yard dogs anyone has ever seen. She can even "pet" bees. They won't sting her.
They met each other when Sumi was a kitten. Sumi took an instant dislike to my step-mom. To this day, when Mom comes to visit, Sumi hisses, whacks her on the leg and stalks out of the room. Sumi has never done this with anyone else in her life.

My point is, sometimes, animals take a disliking to someone for no apparent reason and there is no convincing the animal otherwise. It is not necessarily a reflection on either the person or the animal.

Perhaps this is the case here.

Like Forest Gump says " A Basenji is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get".

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