Aggression/Biting?

Hello Basenji owners - I am in need of your input!
I have a female basenji (Kaya) who was born towards the end of December (almost 4 months old now) - She seems to be an overall happy puppy, but I can never play with her because she is always biting at my hands/feet. I have tried everything that I have found on the internet and heard from professionals (vet, trainer) including yelping, crying, ignoring/walking away, replacing my hand with a toy, putting my finger/thumb under her tongue, showing dominance through training and similar techniques. I take her on a long walk at least twice a day and she is usually worn out by the time we get out, so I do not believe it's an exercise issue.
Is it too much to ask of a Basenji puppy at this age to just relax on the couch from time to time without biting? Its getting to the point that I am putting in a lot of time and energy with unfortunately little perceived return as far as the companionship and loyalty. Any comments/help is appreciated, thank you so much in advance!

So you have had her about 2 months then?
IMO that is not enough time to teach bite inhabition. I would highly recommend looking up Ian Dunbar's bite inhibition information and use that. It takes time and patience to get a pup to stop mouthing and biting. It can take weeks or even months of repitition (one technique!). Some pups may take longer then others to not mouth. She is a baby, equivelant to a toddler. It does pay off though, they do learn eventually!

Also, how much exercise is she getting? I have a very high energy bulldog, and he was always bad with mouthing when he did not get enough exercise.

You really seem to be asking two different behavioral questions.

1. How long does it take to teach soft mouth and bite inhibition?

2. How do I teach my puppy calm behavior?

For the first one, it can take quite awhile. Keep in mind that at 4 months old they are starting to lose their baby teeth and get their adult teeth. Provide lots of good chew toys. Consistently practice the yelping when they bite and remember the 3 strikes rule, if they bite three times in one play session then it is time for a time out.

For the second one, there are lots of things you can do to start teaching your puppy impulse control and calm behavior. For impulse control, start playing the It Yer Choice game,

For calm behavior, start making Down a requirement to get the things like food, a walk, etc. You can even measure out her dinner and instead of just putting the food bowl down. Have it near by when you are sitting down to watch TV for the evening and everytime you notice your puppy laying down toss her a treat. She should catch on that Down is what makes good things happen.

A good gentle basic obedience class will help her learn to listen to you.

I think that you are expecting too much. And you need to be consistant with your corrections and stick with one or two thingsā€¦ If you do that, this is what happens "every" time.

I have two pups, one will be 4 months on the 24th, the other two wks younger. And they have been home with us for 5wks now... while they mostly "chew" on each other (lucky for us), they still try to chew on us.. but we are consistant with "no bite" and if bite, no play, no petting.... And both are starting to lose teeth which makes them even more mouthy ....

Again I will point out that this doesn't happen over night... AND if have human toddlers, how many times do you repeat things that they turn around and do that same thing over and over??? 500 times, 1000 times??? Remember your puppy (any breed) is a baby... and attention span is less then 5 nano seconds....

Hi Phoenix, sorry to hear you're having problems with Kaya. I know where you are coming from. Malaika is 15 weeks old and we can't realy get down on the floor and play with her due to the constant biting, we play games like fetch so as to try and not whip her up. However she constantly leaps at us, particularly me or my younger son. She actualy hurts. We immediately stop play and tell her No Biteing. I did try the yelping approach but found it whipped her up worse, on another thread i discovered that a high pitched yelp can trigger the prey drive šŸ˜®
I try to distract her by doing a little training session.
We do however get lots of cuddles from her when she's tired, do you manage this with Kaya. When sleepy she likes to mouth our hands very gently so i guess she must be learning about a soft mouth to get what she wants.

I have never heard that, yelping triggers prey drive?ā€¦. In the litter, when play in too rough, that is what litter mates so, yelp (or scream at the top of their little lungs)... and Mom's "roar" as do other adults when the play is too rough.... it breaks the cycle so that you have a chance (small one at that) to redirect the behavior.

Maybe people are confused by thinking that it "stops" the behavior?... it doesn't, it sends a message that it is not appropriate, but then you don't have but a couple of seconds to then re-direct that behavior or stop the play. And even when you (the human) stops the play, doesn't mean they will...

It doesn't sound like you are having an aggression problem. It's more, like the others have said, bite inhibition and learning how to keep teeth from poking. Baby teeth are much sharper than adult teeth and thus, hurt more when they contact skin.

Regarding rambunctiousness, that's a bit tougher with young dogs. They just have so much energy! She may seem exhausted when you return from your exercise sessions, but often that doesn't last long. "Down" training is a great idea to work on this. With patience, consistency and lots of reinforcement, I believe you will have a well balanced girl.

The thing that I find, is that many people don't really "mean it" when they yelp. Often they are not very loud and not very convincing that it hurt. When I am working with a mouthy puppy and I "yelp" it is loud and startling so it interupts the play. If your puppy isn't reacting to your yelp then you should try different tones and volume.

If you watch a litter of puppies play when one gets bit too hard, they can really screech and everyone sort of scatters for moment then they usually hop right back into play. If it happens again, the pup is likely to walk away and stop playing with "the bully". This is what we are trying to simulate when training soft mouths and bite inhibition.

-Or perhaps the bite was preditory drift?
http://www.alldogsgym.com/content/view/378/
squealing children can trigger preydrive.

Pat, this was what i meant.
I have tried squealing, yelping very loudly but i find she instantly leaps again for me, you can see the sheer excitement in her eyes. Maybe i'm not quick enough at redirecting but it startles me :O.

@thunderbird8588:

-Or perhaps the bite was preditory drift?
http://www.alldogsgym.com/content/view/378/
squealing children can trigger preydrive.

Pat, this was what i meant.
I have tried squealing, yelping very loudly but i find she instantly leaps again for me, you can see the sheer excitement in her eyes. Maybe i'm not quick enough at redirecting but it startles me :O.

If she is leaping at you the instant you "yelp" then IMO, as lvoss stated, you need to try a different voice level/sound. It should be very sharp, very loud, enough to give them pause.. sounds like for her, something in the line of a air horn might give her pauseā€¦ (and nope, not kidding.... it is loud, sharp and it will startle...).... and that is it... the sheer excitement... that she was playing right though the noise she is hearing from you and to her it doesn't mean what you think it should.

I have to say this since I think words are important. In the title of this thread, the word "aggression" is used. IMO, this is just a puppy being mouthy not aggression. While I don't think anyone responding has responded with the thinking that this puppy is exhibiting "aggression", I do think if the OP (or a side-line reader with the same problem) is thinking that their puppy is exhibiting aggression, that thinking needs to change. Thinking that you puppy is aggressive, puts you in a different mindset of addressing the behavior than the mindset of "this is a mouthy puppy doing what puppies do".

@agilebasenji:

I have to say this since I think words are important. In the title of this thread, the word "aggression" is used. IMO, this is just a puppy being mouthy not aggression. While I don't think anyone responding has responded with the thinking that this puppy is exhibiting "aggression", I do think if the OP (or a side-line reader with the same problem) is thinking that their puppy is exhibiting aggression, that thinking needs to change. Thinking that you puppy is aggressive, puts you in a different mindset of addressing the behavior than the mindset of "this is a mouthy puppy doing what puppies do".

Well put, you are totally correct and I totally agree and since I have two of the little "monsters" with their "shark" teeth right now alsoā€¦ ggg... I also have the "marks" to prove it... and yes those little teeth hurt, but there is no way my two would even be close to aggressive... just mouthy puppies being puppies... and human body parts get in the way...

Mouthiness is a weekly topic in Puppy Kindergarten. Every week, someone brings it up. Every week, the class is reminded that we have puppies and that puppies are mouthy.

Yesterday, in puppy class we talked about mouthiness with regards to handling. One of the things we were asked to do as part of our homework was to observe how puppies react to touch. Some dogs are calmed by touch where other dogs are aroused by touch. For some just stroking them calmly gets them excited and wound up and that is when the mouthing starts.

We spent a large part of the class working on handling. We would get a food bank in one hand and then touch the puppy with the other hand. This process helped not only to help get the puppies used to being touched all over but also to help them to be calm when being touched. You can use the food to get the puppy in a down while being stroked so it is being rewarded not only for being touched but also for being in a down.

You don't have to just feed your puppy its meals out of a bowl. You can use their meal times to work on calm behavior and rewarding calm behaviors.

Thank you all so much for your posts, they truly helped me a lot. Being my first puppy, it is nice to be reaffirmed that she is just a puppy and that this is normal puppy behaviorā€¦. I will definitely continue with the training and try to be more consistent with my approaches.
I truly did not think that this was aggression and I'm sorry for the misleading title post; I guess I was involving my own feelings as it has been a little frustrating to say the least. I see how the other puppies are in puppy class, and then there is little Kaya running around barking/yodeling for the entire hour - She is a little diva. Thanks again, and I look forward to continued interactions in this forum!

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