Help - My Basenji hates my boyfriend!


  • @CRHenn2:

    Unfortunately, when he tries to bite Matthew probably doesn't handle it the best way. He gets mad and throws him in the garage or locks him in his crate.

    I guess Matthew is lucky that Griffin is the dog not me.
    I'd bit his a$$ so hard he'd wished he'd never touched me.

    WHY would you want Griffin to like someone that is acting like such a JERK to YOUR pet/family member?

    Sorry, but boyfriends come and go… you brought Griffin into your life... not to be thrown away because some guy comes along. NO man is deserving of tossing aside a dog to be with him.

    Wish I could give advice, but I don't think much of Matthew at this point, and letting Matthew have more interaction is apparently making the situation worse. I know you want to ignore comments about Matthew.. but he is making things worse with Griffin and it isn't fair to the dog.

    Best of luck to you.


  • @lvoss:

    My take is that Griffin is really uncomfortable with your boyfriend and that you really need to back up quite a few steps to get this moving in the right direction. Since right now Griffin is telling you that just being in the same room for him is uncomfortable you need to start you work there and not force any more interaction on him until he is comfortable with that level of interaction. The other thing you really need to talk with you boyfriend about is that every time he throws Griffin outside, in the garage, etc handling him angrily like that, he is only reinforcing what Griffin believes about him which is that he is scary and not trustworthy.

    I would start by anytime your boyfriend comes in the room tossing Griffin a treat and would start with something really high value like roast chicken, cheese, or whatever he goes nuts for. Once he starts to seem comfortable with your boyfriend walking into the room then start having your boyfriend toss the food to him. Your boyfriend should also work on body language with Griffin, he shouldn't approach him head on, he should turn his shoulder to him.

    I would also suggest looking for a Behaviorist instead of just a trainer and getting the DVD The Language of Dogs for both you and your boyfriend to view. It gives some great information about reading the signals your dog gives.

    I totally agree with all of the above. You want Griffin to think fabulous things happen for him everytime he sees your boyfriend.


  • @Andrew:

    I'm going to have to agree with Mark & Nicki… Griffin seems VERY uncomfortable. Granted, basenjis are, by nature, often aloof with strangers; however, if one of my girls growled at somebody coming into my house, I would think twice about who it was exactly I was inviting in. (And please don't take offense... I'm not saying you are a poor judge of character or even that your boyfriend is a bad person, but you know your dog. Has he had this problem in the past with any other friends or boyfriends?)
    Considering your boyfriend is a great person, and you do continue this relationship, you do really need to work on getting Griffin comfortable with him, on his own terms. I certainly would not take him over to your boyfriend's house until you work out these issues, because that amplifies the stress. If he's not even comfortable at his own home, where he should feel the most secure and safe, then putting him in a strange place where he's surrounded & inundated with smells of your boyfriend will put him even more on edge.
    Turn his crate into a safe place he can retreat to in a quiet room when he's feeling overwhelmed, or put a bed or some blankets in a quiet corner of a quiet room where you and your boyfriend do not hang out often to achieve the same thing (you can find lots of great info on crate training & safe places in other threads so I won't go into that). Once he knows he has a safe place where can take a break from the situation, like everybody else has said, high value treats and babysteps. And don't allow boyfriend to punish him.

    I just want to point out that I don't really trust my dogs' judgement of character 😉 Ivy doesn't like my Mom at all, never has….my Mom has excellent character! She has never been anything but sweet to Ivy, but she isn't a dog person, and dogs like Ivy make her very uncomfortable, and Ivy senses it. Not the same situation as Griffin's...but worth pointing out, that it isn't always a human issue..dogs make associations in their minds that we can't know, or understand. But we can always try to change their reaction to something that makes them uncomfortable.


  • No, Griffin is not a rescue. That is one reason his attitude in general has been so frustrating to me. I have had him since he was 9 weeks old. Again, I have had problems with both of my dogs because I probably didn't know enough about dogs in general to get a basenji in the first place, but what is done is done. Phoenix has really mellowed and blossomed through alot of the additional training we have done (and it turn really likes Matthew). I do think Griffin has improved in certain areas, but not with Matthew.


  • I am sorry, for some reason I thought you had mentioned posting to a rescue list, I must have gotten threads mixed up in my head. Each dog is an individual and can all throw us a curve ball even when we are experienced.

    Griffin's behaviors sound alot like my mom's second basenji Levi. My mom got Levi when he was 10 weeks old, he was from breeder but that year was bit different then other years for that breeder. She had two planned litters when she found out one of her girls had managed to get herself bred all on her own so she ended up with three litters totaling something like 15 puppies. On top of that challenge, one of the members of the household started having some health issues so the amount of individual attention each puppy got was not nearly what they normally would have gotten. The result is that my mom's dog is not comfortable around all people and is uncomfortable when there are groups of people around. The good thing about him is that he did come well crate trained and will happily "go to crate" when told to if he is getting overwhelmed. Levi does well with people who know dogs well and pick up on his subtle signals that he is uncomfortable but alot of people will miss a "freeze" so he escalates to a growl. My mom has worked with him alot using the method I talked about and he has come a long way and does pretty well with a small number of people visiting. When there are lots of people he still becomes overwhelmed but now all my parents have to do is tell him "go to bed" and he will go to their bedroom and knows he is in a "safe zone" there and no one will bother him.


  • Well put lvoss…. My OJ was like that too, there were just people that he just didn't feel comfortable around and usually these were "non" doggy people. He too was very happy to go to his crate and just be left alone. Also, it would take him loads of time to become comfortable with people that he was unsure of or that could not read his body language. I would say that in the case of Matthew that maybe for the time being, as already suggested, he just leave Griffin alone and especially not toss him in the garage or lock him in his crate. I also agree that it is most likely very stressful for him to be taken over to Matthew's home and it might be better to just leave him home.


  • Pat, how interesting that you say OJ was uncomfortable around non-doggy people. I was at Carrie's last night and I brought my dogs. It was Carrie and I and two "non-doggy" friends.
    Now our four basenjis have not seen each other for a little while. We did not do a re-introduction on neutral ground like we should have. But they acted so strangely for about 3/4 of the time I was there. Usually Riley is thrilled to be around Callie and Lola and they play and wrestle. He would barely look at them and if he did, it was the "submit to me" kind of eye contact. The first play bow didn't happen until the non-doggy people left.

    It was so weird!!


  • No, you aren't mixed up. I did say I posted info to a rescue list. I am a BRAT volunteer, but Griffin is not a rescue dog. For now, Griffin is going to stay at my mom's (BlueBell) for a few weeks and have a little vacation from Matthew. In the meantime, we will use your suggestions to decide our best course of action. Matthew realizes that he needs to change some of his actions and give Griffin another chance, but it is hard for him because these are not the kind of dogs that he is used to being around. I will post some updates in a few weeks. Thanks for all of the helpful info.


  • @khanis:

    Sorry, but boyfriends come and go… you brought Griffin into your life... not to be thrown away because some guy comes along. NO man is deserving of tossing aside a dog to be with him.

    I know you want to ignore comments about Matthew.. but he is making things worse with Griffin and it isn't fair to the dog.

    Well said, Ms. Khanis. I completely concur. I would think twice about a guy if my rescue boy didn't like him. It would tell me a lot.

    AJ's a people dog and can make friends with almost anyone, even non-dog people. The only time I've ever seen him "smile" and rumble at anyone was between two trailers in a dark corner of a truckstop when I got him out for a walk. Some dude followed me between the trailers and AJ communicated that he didn't like the idea. The guy looked at AJ and turned around quick. From then on, I completely trust AJ's judgment.


  • I'm on the "boyfriends come and go, but you chose to bring this dog into your life, forever, not just as long as it was convenient" bandwagon. Maybe this is offensive or rude, but I can't see giving either of my girls up for ANYTHING. Callie has the most even temperment, and has never ever met a stranger. Lola can be snobbish about people, and she has to sometimes get to know them on her terms. Once they are friends, they are friends for life, but it is my responsibility to ensure that every person she meets is a good experience. I know she is scared of children, which has to do with her "breeder" not socializing her properly and allowing her to come home with me too early. So I never ever force her to meet children. Instead, when I know we will be somewhere where we will likely run into children, I take treats. Anytime little kids run up to her, I stand in front of Lola, and explain to the children she is scared of them. I instruct them how to politely introduce themselves to Lola, and I give them treats or kibble to let Lola eat out of their hands. Thus, I control Lola's interactions with children so they are always positive experiences, and she comes to associate "big scary monster children" with "yummy food and soft pats on the head". It is a slow process, and I have to respect that some children are too little to understand how to interact with her politely. In those cases, I hold Lola & tell the children she isn't feeling up to company at the moment. Each situation is unique, and there are just some children Lola doesn't feel comfy with, so I don't force the issue too much.
    I guess my long winded soapbox is to say, have patience, take baby steps, and do what's best for the being that you committed to caring for.

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