Dominance between 2 Basenjis

I've had Tayda for about 2 years (she is 4 now) and Lenny joined us about 10 months ago (he is 1 year old now). Tayda is spayed, Lenny is not neutered. Tayda has a pretty alpha personality, and it's seeming that Lenny also has an alpha personality. I'm noticing now that their "playing" is getting a lot more agressive and vocal. Mostly on Tayda's part, and it seems Lenny doesn't know when to give up. They chase each other around relentlessly and Tayda always seems to get Lenny on his back, even though she is a lot smaller than he is. They both seem to play agressively with each other, neither has ever gotten hurt.

My question is: at what point do I have to start worrying about their agression toward each other? They both know I am the boss of them, but I'm hoping they figure out who is going to be the alpha dog between the two of them.

Well, it is hard to tell without seeing the situation. Young basenjis play pretty roughly, and sometimes with loud vocalizations…but it doesn't mean that it is necessarily going to escalate to a fight. Usually in a girl/boy combo, the girl looks like she is charge most of the time...the bitches are usually more demonstrative with their "knock it off" displays. That doesn't mean that she truly is dominant...but just looks it.

Anyhow, I would let them sort out their issues between themselves, but keep a level of control where you can say 'knock it off' and they do. It helps to place yourself in between them when things get heated, rather than yelling from across the room. BUT, if they are just playing I would let them sort it out...play is how dogs determine status without having to resort to fighting.

It is also hard to say when you have to start worrying. USUALLY (not always) a pairing of male/female is pretty good, often some snarking and bitching but no real damage....but then as a lot of folks say, everything was fine, until one day, it wasn't.

My guess, just from your description, is that they are just settling out the details; and Tayda is trying to get the message across to Lenny when enough is enough....he will learn, EVENTUALLY 😉

I would agree with Andrea and add only that I look for the hackles standing up as a sign for me to step in.;) I have a male/female pair that have what some might view as confrontational vocalizations all the time…....mostly her. They're just talking and when the hairs stand up it's time for me to pay closer attention. I will say this Male/Female pair although very vocal with each other, have never had a serious fight.

<_>

Really good point, BBoy! The hackles indicate arousal…a readiness for action...definitely a good cue to intervene before the dogs go to that place in their brain where they can't hear you anymore 😉

Those of us that live with many (too many? ;)) basenjis are so aware all the time of what is going on between them, it is sometimes hard to describe to somebody else what it looks like right before a *real fight ;)_

The hackles indicate arousal…a readiness for action...definitely a good cue to intervene before the dogs go to that place in their brain where they can't hear you anymore 😉

😃 😃 😃 Now that's funny! But so true!

Those of us that live with many (too many? ;)) basenjis are so aware all the time of what is going on between them, it is sometimes hard to describe to somebody else what it looks like right before a *real fight

Cleo starts licking her lips.:D I see that and I'm on her.:D

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Yep, that's a calming signal that dogs give to each other to say 'I am starting to prepare to react if you don't change something that you are doing'. The lip licking for us starts before the hackles. I usually just say 'girls...what are you doing?' and the diffuses the situation. If hackles are up, I get up and place myself inbetween them, or call them over. I found that if I try to push or move them, or (G-d forbid!) grab their collars, things escalate. Such fun 😉

What great info from some VERY experienced people 🙂 🙂 Its funny I was wondering the same thing recently….Topaz is pretty vocal during play too but I would just watch & see & let them figure it out & they do. During sleepy time C3 hates to be crowded & Topaz LOVES to cuddle & he gives such loud & mean snarls...but no hackles & no lip licking 😃 however if I come up to him & tell him to "be nice" he stops!

Special Dogs, Special people.;)

@jys1011:

however if I come up to him & tell him to "be nice" he stops!

He must know you are in charge…...that's great.

I use that same phrase......."be nice"!:)

If there's any question, I just squirt 'em. It keeps them on their toes.:D

@Vegas:

If there's any question, I just squirt 'em. It keeps them on their toes.:D

😃 😃 😃 😃 😃 That is always an option…....squirt bottle's are very handy that way.:D 😃 😃 😃

What is the difference between lip licking when preparing for battle and lip licking in the middle of the night and seeming to be a bit antsy?

@JoeyQ:

What is the difference between lip licking when preparing for battle and lip licking in the middle of the night and seeming to be a bit antsy?

Hmmm…it would all depend on context. What is happening in the middle of the night...does it happen out of the blue, like maybe dry mouth? Or does it happen when someone bumps into Joey while he is sleeping?

No one bumps into him. He is in a bed on the floor. I will sometimes waked up to hear him smacking his lips. He has water all the time, so if his lips are dry, can he just not be bothered to get up and get a drink? 😉

<_>

Ours do this too…it's like they need to make a big drama production about needing a sip of water...they are probably hoping we will bring the bowl to them, like good slaves ;)_

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I get it now! Thanks for the insight!

@Quercus:

Ours do this too…it's like they need to make a big drama production about needing a sip of water...they are probably hoping we will bring the bowl to them, like good slaves 😉

Good Slaves…...too funny......but so true.:D 😃 😃

my boy always picked on my girl. ight on her neck….preening her like a monkey and then going in for the chomps until she submitted through a yelp....in runs mom ...but when it came down to it, she could always throw him into a submission position with her choke hold...never anything viscious, just the "I am telling you I can kick your butt if I wanted too and it doesnt matter that I am smaller".

I always joked that you could take the girl out of the ghetto (puppymill rescue) but cant take the ghetto out of the girl, LOL

my rule of thumb for snarfy behavior is that once I can hear them growl talking during play they either have to go outside where they can start running or both have to lie down and hear that I am the alpha dog....

Most of the time they arent playing as rough as you think.....

The girls are always the alpha....LOL

In the wild canines will vy for dominance at an early age. They will play dominance games with lip licking, circling and hackles raised waiting for someone to end it. I won't. I let them fight until one screams. This usually ends the fight. If it doesn't, I will grab the victor by the nape, pin and place a firm grib over their throat. This gives them feeling of powerlessness they displyed over the other. That usually establishes dominance. Most importantly it tells the pack you are in charge and will have order. Fights from then on typically end when the first one cries.

My first Basenji was stubborn and thought she was dominate over me. The first 2 or 3 times I did this didn't work. Finally I squeezed her throat just hard enough and long enough to see the fear in her eyes. After that fights were few and far between. When they brawled after that and she always pinned the subordinates, they yelped and she would run to me for approval. Wanting to reinforce this behaviour, I praised her and gave her whatever started the fight. She would prance about and showboat to the other 2. Eventually she got bored, would drop the prize next to me and go sun herself in the backyard.

Basenjis, more so than other breeds, are extremely primal. They need to know you are in charge. The responsibility of being in charge is to respect the pack heiarchy.

A really good book on canine behaviour is the "Mind of the Dog" by Bruce Fogel. He is a British vet and Canadian schooled. I belive he graduated from vet school in Gelph, Canada. This first part of the book deals with the canine brain and is pretty boring unless you like nuerophysics. The rest is full of gems on how canines think.

If you want multiple Basenjis, you really need to understand how canines think and how pack mentality works.

There are many ways to show your dog that you are the top of the pack that are far less likely to result in escalation.

I recommend anyone who adds a new dog or puppy to their household sign up for a positive reinforcement training class. Puppy kindergarten is a great place for puppies to get socialization with humans, start learning foundation skills, and to socialize with other puppies. For adult dogs a basic manners class is a very good way to build a vocabulary between you and your dog and build your relationship with your dog.

I would also recommend either reading Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas or watching the video The Language of Dogs. Understanding what the body language of your dog is saying can really help to head off problems before they begin.

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