11-week basenji nips my 5y/o.

Hi everyone,

my first post here: My family recently decided to add a basenji puppy to our family. We have now had her for about a week. And she appears to have adjusted well. And for a breed people say is not very obedient, i find that she is extremely well behaved and obedient.

At any rate, 2 days ago, she nipped and bit my 5y/o son. They were playing and it definitely was a scenario where she just got a little worked up i think. I quickly intervened, told her "no" stearnly, and told my son to not play with her for a few minutes and just ignore her (simply to show that play time ends if she bites)… i also give her a chew toy, which she promptly ignores.

And just for reference, they play together a lot and both are enjoying themselves when they play.

Yesterday morning, she wanted to play and would bite on his t-shirt trying to coax him to play. she caught his arm in the process as well. I intervened and separated them. no play time.

yesterday afternoon, while they were playing, she bit again...

Strange thing is that this only happens with my 5 y/o and not my 8y/o daughter.

Now... she's never bitten hard enough to cause any real injuries, but it does have me a little worried. My son ends up crying, but never holds it against her.

It appears to me that she'll want to play with him and resorts to nipping at him to get his attention at times. At other times, she's just playing and i think she just gets too rough.

is this something i should be concerned about?... am i correcting the behavior correctly? is this a phase that will pass? or a behavior that will likely worsen? I just want to correct this as quickly as possible and move on...

i'm fairly sure this is just a "learning how to play" situation... but is there more that i can do to help teach these important lessons?

just as a point of reference, she stayed with her littermates til 10 weeks....

thanks for any advice and input...

and on a side note, both my son and "Zaire" (pup), are very mild mannered… they don't generally play rough. He'll try to teach her to fetch. doesn't tug things from her, etc... i have him give her treats here and there so she'll associate him with good things, etc...

and i want to be very very clear...there is definitely no signs of aggression or anything... its purely during playtime! Zaire is a sweetheart!!! she just has sharp teeth... lol

It does sound like she is trying to initiate play. This is a behavior you will have to work to change. Stopping play and giving her a time out is a good start. Are you in a puppy kindergarten class? I highly recommend a positive reinforcement puppy kindergarten class. They usually cover topics like bite inhibition, handling, socialization, etc and are great resources for helping to resolve these sorts of issues.

If you are not in a puppy kindergarten class and need to locate one in your area here is the Trainer Search for the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, http://www.ccpdt.org/index.php?option=com_mtree&Itemid=16

It is important at this point, you really want consistent rules for the puppy. The ground rules for bite inhibition that we were given in my puppy kindergarten class was no biting clothing, no biting kids, and then having the adults in the household work on teaching soft mouth and bite inhibition. This article lays out the process, http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/teaching-bite-inhibition

You will also want to work on ground rules for play between your son and the puppy. Pick games where the pup is not as likely to get overstimulated and nip at your son. We encourage my 7 year old nephew to play fetch with our puppy L'Ox. He usually has 2 or 3 toys to toss so if L'Ox doesn't actually bring them back that is fine and he is actually really good at encouraging L'Ox to bring the toys back and then he just tosses a new one so L'Ox drops the old one and is off after the new one.

thank you for the links. I'll look at those.

We have not yet enrolled in puppy kindergarten although its very high on the list at the moment! We understand the importance of socialization…

Its amazing... we THOUGHT we knew how to deal with puppies, but the more research we (me and my wife) do on basenjis and training techniques.. the more we realize just how little we really know! lol..

thanks for your help.

This is not too helpful I know, but my basenji (now an adult) tends to nip at the other dogs to get them to play. She doesnt actually bite them, just nips at them literally lol But i wonder if this is something basenjis do in general, its not something I have found my other dogs do. It certainly does get them to play with her.

@chronicresearch:

thank you for the links. I'll look at those.

We have not yet enrolled in puppy kindergarten although its very high on the list at the moment! We understand the importance of socialization…

Its amazing... we THOUGHT we knew how to deal with puppies, but the more research we (me and my wife) do on basenjis and training techniques.. the more we realize just how little we really know! lol..

thanks for your help.

And have you talked to her breeder about this? Was she the dominate in the litter? Was she the most outgoing? And if you care to share who you got her from and what her breeding is, many of us have related Basenjis here on the Forum..

By the way, welcome to the Forum…

Hi, welcome to the forum. Zaire sounds very like our Pup Malaika who is 13 weeks old.
Everything you mention with Zaire we are experiencing with Malaika, exept we have no youn children. Malaika gets very excited during play and will try nipping/biteing, she actualy hurts and so we stop play immediately. Sometimes the very fact that we've shouted No or Leave or perhaps yelped seems to excite her even more. She was quite bad for nipping at clothing and i'm pleased to say that this has decreased a bit.
Good luck with Zaire, i think if you go to puppy classes you will feel supported as you no douby will on this forum.
They are delightful but a challenging breed.
How about some pics 😉

@tanza:

And have you talked to her breeder about this? Was she the dominate in the litter? Was she the most outgoing? And if you care to share who you got her from and what her breeding is, many of us have related Basenjis here on the Forum..

By the way, welcome to the Forum…

i have not talked to the breeder about this… but that doesn't sound like a bad idea. I'll shoot her an email about it. I got Zaire from Carol Webb in So. Cal. From what i can tell, excellent breeder!:D

@thunderbird8588:

Hi, welcome to the forum. Zaire sounds very like our Pup Malaika who is 13 weeks old.
Everything you mention with Zaire we are experiencing with Malaika, exept we have no youn children. Malaika gets very excited during play and will try nipping/biteing, she actualy hurts and so we stop play immediately. Sometimes the very fact that we've shouted No or Leave or perhaps yelped seems to excite her even more. She was quite bad for nipping at clothing and i'm pleased to say that this has decreased a bit.
Good luck with Zaire, i think if you go to puppy classes you will feel supported as you no douby will on this forum.
They are delightful but a challenging breed.
How about some pics 😉

Aaaah… good to know that things should subside (assuming we teach her properly:D...) "delightful, but challenging".... that about sums it up!!!

Pics:

Yes Carol is an excellent breeder!…. is this pup from the litter that was born in January? and she can certainly give you some good pointers about working with your pup. lvoss's suggestions are totally right on...

@tanza:

Yes Carol is an excellent breeder!…. is this pup from the litter that was born in January? and she can certainly give you some good pointers about working with your pup. lvoss's suggestions are totally right on...

right on! yes, Zaire is from the litter born in January!:D… incredible that you would know that...lol.

@chronicresearch:

right on! yes, Zaire is from the litter born in January!:D… incredible that you would know that...lol.

You will find that most all responsible breeders know each other and are familar with what they have or are breeding… ggg

I have known Carol for years and years and see her quite a bit at shows. Also know both the sire and dam of your pup.

Our Zelda was quite the nipper, too 🙂 I'm happy to report that she is no longer doing this (at age 17 weeks – I think). It's a pain while it lasts! We used the game over approach and she learned fast. If she was chomping on us, the game instantly stopped.

Zaire is a cutie!

Welcome. Your pup is lovely. I think you will find doing all the above suggestions will work.
Glad you found a great breeder to get your pup from.

chronicr-

1. pat (tanza) is one smart cookie and has probably forgotten more about basenjis than many of us will ever know.

2. your pup is very cute

3. as has already been said, you need to make sure your son and puppy play the right types of games. NO wrestling type play. (I know, hard because boys and puppies love that sort of play.) Tug may also not be a good idea between your son and new puppy, at least for right now.

4. I'd encourage you to read Control Unleashed. Pay attention to when the author talks about threshholds. Play the Off Switch game. My 3 year old will get a little nippy when she's over threshhold (ot) or frustrated. The Off Switch game will help you recognize when your pup is starting to get ot and will help the pup settle. Also having a nice command like "Mat" is useful. My dog LOVES her mat and it is almost a default behavior for her. (Not sure what to do? Hmmm, I'll go to the mat and down. Mom is almost always generous with rewards when I'm down on my mat!)

4. find a good, positive trainer. Many places now offer a Family Dog type class that should be helpful for everyone. Ask about kids-n-dogs when you interview the trainer.

@agilebasenji:

chronicr-

1. pat (tanza) is one smart cookie and has probably forgotten more about basenjis than many of us will ever know.

LOL, thanks, but my hats are really off to all of you that do agility and OB work with your Basenjis… I have learned lots from all of you...

Zaire is so cute, as is your little son.
Good luck and keep posting (if you have time),;)

I hate to offer suggestions since I have not had a Basenji for very long and the one we have (4 months old) appears to be a Dream Basenji so this may not work for most Basenjis but even though most have similar traits, ours is quite different but I will share what we've done with our Basenji girl incase it can help in any way.

We've had her since she was 9 weeks old and from birth, she was socialized around children so she is very used to them and loves them. Based on your story, it sounds like your dog is just trying to play but of course there needs to be ground rules laid out. Since they are very smart, they often know when you think they are doing something wrong. Our girl started off nipping from the beginning but we took her mouth and closed it and held it down while sternly saying: "NO"! Well she looked at us as if to say: "What?" (lol) but was scared. She of course tested a lot to see how far she could get but again, we kept doing this and sometimes would hold her mouth down until she started to cry a little (we're not hurting her at all but some might take this as cruel behavior…? not sure but in our family, we LOVE our dog and spoil her rotten BUT we let her know who is boss). So anyway she appears to be a really well mannered dog so this may not work with a more stubborn dog and I know most Basenjis are stubborn so perhap we are just blessed with a good tempered dog.

We tried a combination of things: bone, chew toys, etc and the best approach appeared to be this so we just continue to be stern with her and grab her mouth/hold it closed. My daughter is 4 so she would just cry when Willow (our 4 month old pup) would nip at her (she was only playing with her but still) so like most kids do, she started copying our behavior so now I hear my daughter yelling "NO" at the dog and holding her mouth closed (showing no fear whatsoever) and have found Willow crying all sweetly (never thinking to turn around and bite Kaylie- my daughter). She then looks at you and puts her head down and appears to understand because then she comes over and starts licking instead of nipping so again, maybe we just have a special dog (of course, she's special 🙂

I think we are just really lucky so this may not work for you and hopefully there arent people out there thinking we are cruel for doing this (we're not beating the dog or mistreating her in any way- I can assure you of that!) but its worth a shot. Dogs will look at kids like their play mates and nip them as they would their dog siblings so they need to look at them as a higher rank and having your child start disciplining the dog (with proper parent supervision of course) could help.

A neighbor of mine told me she would pull her dogs tongue whenever he nipped as a puppy because he was very biting/mouthy and it seemed to work so maybe that's another approach.

Best of Luck!

I know that I disagree with either way, holding the mouth shut and pulling the tongue… and maybe it will never happen with your pup, but both methods can lead to a head shy dog.... or an accident waiting to happen

Doing rescue, I have found many dogs who are handled harshly around the head are head shy, you can hardly put a collar on them. I have to say, anything from a human hand should be gentle to the dogs head.
I wouldn't do the training you mentioned Megs.

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