Pepper bit my girlfriend

I am sure that members of the forum have dealt with this problem in the past. Tonight, Pepper was asleep on the lounge, curled up next to me when my girlfriend went to sit down beside her. Pepper's tail was uncurled covering the area of the lounge where my girlfriend wanted to sit. So (naturally) my girlfriend touched Pepper's tail to move it aside. Snap. Pepper lunged. Fortunately, my girlfriend has good reflexes and Pepper didn't break the skin. Later, when my girlfriend was getting into bed, Pepper had already mapped out a place for her. My girlfriend tried to push Pepper gently with her foot to move her away, when Pepper had another snap at my girlfriend's foot. Got any ideas?

Yikes. Do you have a crate? Perhaps crating Pepper rather than allowing her to sleep in your bed would be a good idea. Some of the experts here can come up with ideas as to why she's snapping and how to curtail it. My ideas aren't very popular.

Maybe Pepper considers your girlfriend as an invader or enemy and is jealous of her. I wouldn't use a crate, because I would be afraid I intensify her jealousy this way. I would ignore Pepper's behaviour and wouldn't punish her for that. Pepper needs to know your girlfriend is her friend and she is her leader too. Your girlfriend should be the person who gives food to Pepper, who plays with her, walks for a walk with her etc…..but you should do that gradually.

As soon as Pepper snapped at my girlfriend, I would move Pepper to the floor - no reward of continued use of bed or chair/sofa for Pepper for that behavior.

When I first got Ruby, she growled once at me for trying to move her on the bed. Instantly she was moved to the floor and spent the next week there at night. Once the week was over, she was only allowed on the bed when I invited her. After that loss of bed privileges, she has never done it again - the worst she does is sigh heavily if I move her, and she does that with big eyes watching me to see if she'll get the floor for that.

The other thing I would add, is that it is always wise to make sure a dog is awake before trying to move a dog - so call or talk to her as you come up to her while sleeping, just so you don't startle her.

I agree with RenaultF1. I would also have her feed the dog by hand and have the dog do something for the food. And before your girlfriend sits on the bed or the couch, have the dog get up and move to the floor first and then she can have her sit and then invite her up.

as an added note, do not strike the dog for biting. I realize it may be a reaction, but Basenji's do not take well to being hit. Staying ahead of the aggression is key and praise and attention for doing what she is supposed to will help.

Good Luck

Thanks for the advice. I would like to get as many ideas if possible. So keep the advice coming. AJs Human, any ideas short of putting some lead in her ear would be most gratefully accepted. I accept that Pepper was asleep at the time of the first incident, and my girlfriend should not have touched her tail. My girlfriend is not used to basenjis having only known Mister who is the most gentle of dogs I have ever seen. My girlfriend does feed her and play with her allot. On the other hand, it is quite obvious since we got her that Pepper is "my" dog. I am sure if I had been in the same situation, Pepper would not have batted an eyelid. I think you are right Irena when you say that Pepper might be jealous of my girlfriend. She has a habit of laying on the lounge next to me and when Mister tries to approach, she snaps at him. Has anyone got any ideas on how to make my girlfriend the alpha-female? I am sure that this is only teething problems with Pepper.

I'm with Renaultf1.. Growling = off the bed. I don't want Tillo to growl and snap at Lycia when they are both in bed (he hasn't tried to growl at me yet ;)) so when I hear a growl from one of them.. It's back on the floor to their bed.. And they both know that it works that way.. They are also not allowed to jump on the bed or couch without my or BF's permission.. (although I made a video of them being 'home alone' and Lycia was on the couch in 15 minutes :D) We never really allow them in bed or on the couch anyway, so if we do they are happy pups 😉

I also agree with letting Pepper know you're going to touch her.

I had similar problems with my previous beastie - only he would snap at me if I invaded his space. I pretty much did what Renaultf1 suggests - dog gets snarky, dog gets shoved to the floor and has to re-earn couch/bed privileges (I must admit that a couple of times, I got pushy back and growled back at him to let him know I was the boss). It took several times before he finally learned. My very first beastie would absolutely fly out of the chair (beam me up Scotty style) if he was touched while sleeping. I always make a point now of talking to a sleeping dog before I touch.

Much like Renaultf1 suggested. If she can't be nice on the bed/sofa/etc, she doesn't get to be there. I would ask your gf to wake Pepper verbally, then ask Pepper to move to the floor. When Pepper does, gf rewards Pepper with some kind words and a tasty morsel. Gf sits on sofa, then invites Pepper back on the sofa (or not, mix it up). If you need to, attach a drag line to Pepper's noncorrective collar or harness so that she can be safely moved. I would NOT have your gf bodily move Pepper onto the floor.

Ideally, having gf and Pepper attend a fun class is a great idea - around here we have relationship classes or trick classes or something of that ilk. Even a good positive obedience class can be fun and improve their relationship.

@renaultf1:

As soon as Pepper snapped at my girlfriend, I would move Pepper to the floor - no reward of continued use of bed or chair/sofa for Pepper for that behavior.

When I first got Ruby, she growled once at me for trying to move her on the bed. Instantly she was moved to the floor and spent the next week there at night. Once the week was over, she was only allowed on the bed when I invited her. After that loss of bed privileges, she has never done it again - the worst she does is sigh heavily if I move her, and she does that with big eyes watching me to see if she'll get the floor for that.

The other thing I would add, is that it is always wise to make sure a dog is awake before trying to move a dog - so call or talk to her as you come up to her while sleeping, just so you don't startle her.

Totally right on!!! Growl or snap, you are off the couch/bed period.

Some good advice here, especialy the advice about waking the sleeping Basenji gently, they sure do hate to be woken with any hands on. Losing furniture privaleges are good as is a drag line and rewarding good behaviour.
I will be trying all these techniques when i get our Pup. My last Basenji growled and snapped if i tried to move him from where he wanted to be, especialy when i tried lifting him down etc. We had to keep telling him over and over before he would cooperate.
Great advice also about not hitting a Basenji as this can make them over react, and the behaviour can escalate.
When i had Benji i was not Basenji savvy and i think we are all lucky on this forum that we can learn from one another.

Thanks everyone. All good advice.

@pari1art:

AJs Human, any ideas short of putting some lead in her ear would be most gratefully accepted.

My advice would be no furniture at all for a while. She has to understand her place in the household is the dog. You and your girlfriend are the pack leaders and that has to be made clear to Pepper. In your case, ignore Pepper altogether, feed Mister first while Pepper has to wait for her food, then feed her and if possible, place your girlfriend in a position of power over Pepper. Do this with feeding, as suggested above, walks, affection….everything. Pepper has to earn everything for a while. When out for a walk, make Pepper walk behind your girlfriend. Anything to place her properly in the family unit.

As I said above, my methods are a little more severe than is usually accepted.

I agree with alote of people here. If my dog were to react that way he would not be allowed on the couch or bed for a while days/a week perhaps. Its a privilage not a right after all. It might help if your girlfriend trains pepper some new commands that way she can see her as a leader in your house.

Yup, definitely agree-you growl/snap at me, off you get and stay off until you have earned the right. It's really respect for the placement in the household. Pepper figures she is above your girlfriend. So, off she gets and definitely if she continues I would move further along to out of the bedroom completely. That is YOUR place, not Pepper's.

You must keep in mind that a dog does not miss a bite or fail to break skin by accident. She didn't break skin because she didn't want to break skin. It is a lower level bite, but a bite nonetheless. First place yourself as head of the household, then place your girlfriend as number two. Pepper will be resistant to this at first, but once she sees she does not rate as high as your girlfriend, she should settle in.

One way your girlfriend can help make this happen is to "take possession" of something Pepper has. A spot on the floor, a toy, whatever. She does this by calmly and without saying a word, just step in slowly on the place/item until Pepper gets the idea and moves or gives it up. Edge in and wait. Do not look Pepper straight in the face: that's a direct challenge. Just move in and take whatever it is you want. Once Pepper realizes she has to move for the girlfriend, she will start to get the idea.

I wouldn't start this exercise with space around you just yet. If your girlfriend wants to sit down, I would suggest you move Pepper rather than make your girlfriend do it. Start with places and things that your girlfriend can "claim" without using her hands. Eventually, Pepper will see her as a leader rather than a rival bitch. (No offense meant at all to your girlfriend.)

One thing that I was told very early on by several long time basenji breeders and owners is never get into a battle of will with a basenji. Even if you win the battle, you will have lost a part of the relationship you can't get back.

I would recommend going the relationship building route. Have your girlfriend feed Pepper and be responsible for "life rewards" like her walks and going out. You want Pepper to feel like good things come when your girlfriend is around. When Pepper is sitting on the couch or bed, have you girlfriend call her off the furniture and reward her for doing so. Then you girlfriend also gets the opportunity to invite her back on the furniture after she has found her spot. These strategies make the basenji feel like it is getting what it wants and makes your girlfriend being aroudn a good thing and something look forward to.

I keep jars of treats in various rooms of my house so I can easily reward the dogs for behaviors I want to see more of.

@lvoss:

One thing that I was told very early on by several long time basenji breeders and owners is never get into a battle of will with a basenji. Even if you win the battle, you will have lost a part of the relationship you can't get back.

I would recommend going the relationship building route. Have your girlfriend feed Pepper and be responsible for "life rewards" like her walks and going out. You want Pepper to feel like good things come when your girlfriend is around. When Pepper is sitting on the couch or bed, have you girlfriend call her off the furniture and reward her for doing so. Then you girlfriend also gets the opportunity to invite her back on the furniture after she has found her spot. These strategies make the basenji feel like it is getting what it wants and makes your girlfriend being aroudn a good thing and something look forward to.

I keep jars of treats in various rooms of my house so I can easily reward the dogs for behaviors I want to see more of.

I agree here with lvoss for sure… in a battle of "wills" humans can win but lose respect however, in a battle that is physical... humans will lose 99.9% of the time. It is never good to challange in a physical battle. This is one of the reasons that the old "roll and pin" is not recommended by behaviorist any longer and has not for years.

Thanks everyone. Some very good suggestions. No offense taken AJs Human. LOL

Did someone suggest roll and pin?

What I am suggesting is not a battle of wills but rather a taking back of territory. There's a difference. When you step into a dog's "space" and refuse to move, it is taking territory. Not a battle of wills. It usually only takes a minute for the dog to get uncomfortable and move. By doing this, you say, "This is mine." rather than, "You are my slave." When the dog gives it up, she is giving rank also. It accomplishes pack order without losing the confidence of your dog. This is how dogs talk to each other as well, yet they do not concede personality or affection.

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