8 month old is biting…can't get him under control
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    So I've had my boy about 3 months now and we've gone through obedience, I practice dominance excercise w/ him and correct him everytime there's an isuue w/ him biting and his behavior is just not improving at all. He's gotten excited and chased my 6 year old and tried to nip. Once leaving a big mark on his arm w/ his teeth. Then also more recently going after my daughter who is 10 and trying to bite her in the back. He also will try to bite my legs when I take something or reprimand him. I've lost patience, I can't keep an eye on him every second and I'm afraid that things will get worse. I've thought about returning him to the breeder because I just don't know what else I can do or if this is a dog that I'll eer be able to handle. I had a basenji about 10 years ago and had very few issues w/ him. And advice would be appreciated.

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  • What do you mean you are doing "dominance exercises" with him? Many "dominance" techniques only escalate issues like biting.

    You should be working with a trainer or behaviorist that uses positive reinforcement techniques. Have you contacted your dog's breeder? If this has been an ongoing issue consulting a veterinary behaviorist may be in order.

    Also, from your post it is unclear what situations your dog is biting in. Is it when he is aroused in play? Is it only when you are trying to take objects away from him?

    Have you done work with him on impulse control? Something like "Its Yer Choice",

    or the "Go Wild and Freeze" game that is described on this webpage, http://dogtrainer.quickanddirtytips.com/play-games-bad-weather.aspx

    If happens mostly when trying to take items away your dog may be a resource guarder. Check out this article for more information, http://www.fortunatefido.com/tips/tips-resource-guarding.php

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    I'm doing exactly what the breeder did w/ him and what I was told by trainers to do. I put him in a dominance hold either in my arms belly up or on the floor w/ hands on his chest. I did the same w/ my other basenji.
    He doesn't become aroused only in play. It seems like he's wound up all the time as soon as he comes out of his crate and until he goes to sleep. I've been on walks w/ him where he out of the blue nips my leg. I'm just exhausted.

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  • If he were my pup, I'd find a Control Unleashed class or a nice positive obedience/family pet type class. However, I hesitate to suggest that since the types of classes I'm thinking of are not compatible with dominance type training. Have you tried expaining these scenarios to your trainer? What was the input?

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  • @tangokor:

    I'm doing exactly what the breeder did w/ him and what I was told by trainers to do. I put him in a dominance hold either in my arms belly up or on the floor w/ hands on his chest. I did the same w/ my other basenji.
    He doesn't become aroused only in play. It seems like he's wound up all the time as soon as he comes out of his crate and until he goes to sleep. I've been on walks w/ him where he out of the blue nips my leg. I'm just exhausted.

    Dominance holds as you are explaining here are from "old school" especially with a Basenji. It will only esclate the behavior and since it seems the nipping is to your children certainly will not help as they have become the targets.

    Also sounds like he is not getting enough excerise…. And yes, puppies of any breed at still at 8 months can be wound up all the time if they are not getting enough excerise and mental stimulation

    As asked, have you discussed all this with the breeder? What are their suggestions?

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    Thanks for the input. I haven't heard of a Control unleashed class. What exactly is that? We went through basic obedience and the trainers suggested basically that I just need to be more agressive w/ him and gave me a pinch collar to use.

    What exactly should I be doing to correct him when he goes after them or myself and bites? What works? This is what I can't figure out? I did mention this to the breeder when it started and he said what I was doing was fine. Stop him, tell him no and give him an appropriate chew toy.

    He may not be getting enough excercise or mental stimulation but again between work, looking after the dog and kids every moment I'm exhausted and just don't think I can handle it. He goes for a walk in the morning and another walk or two in the evening and I have a fenced in yard. The kids are afraid to play w/ him anymore and I spend most of my time chasing him around keeping him from chewing up everything in sight!!

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  • Just a quick note on this topic, because there is a ton of info on play biting back thru time here. But giving a puppy a chew toy because he is biting you just isn't going to work. The dog is nipping you because that is the only way he knows how to invite you (and the kids) to play. Anytime you push, squeeze, jab, grab, etc. in reaction to play biting it just makes the dog want to play harder. The puppy wants interaction, and needs to learn an appropriate way to ask for it. Try doing a short, fun training session when the puppy gets in a crazy mood. Or get a laser pointer, and have him chase that for 10 minutes or so (good for the kids to do, because they are stationary, yet playing with the dog, and wearing his energy off). Play biting always improves with age, but it can become an attention getting habit if you let it.

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    I used a laser pointer to keep my other B entertained occasionally and it did the trick. My ex also used to get on skates and take him around the block which really wore him out. I haven't tried this yet but maybe I should give that a whirl.

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  • @tangokor:

    and the trainers suggested basically that I just need to be more agressive w/ him and gave me a pinch collar to use.

    Hi, that sentence rings alarm bells with me and i think you have been given the wrong advice totaly.
    One of the best pieces of advice i was given when i had my first Basenji was remain calm and talk him down. It's very difficult to remain calm and in control of your emotions when the Dog is going over the top but the more whipped up you get the more the Basenji will react.
    Our Pup is 6 1/2 months now and we have had some problems with her biteing in excitment, it's mostly gone now but we don't allow any rough house play involving teeth ;)
    If she nips then she is told No and play stops immediately. If she chases our legs we standstill and say leave it.
    There have been occasions when we are out for a walk and she gets over excited and bites the lead or will leap for our legs.
    They can be scary little dogs especialy for children as they seem to quickly become so excited, hopefuly with the advice given on the forum and a decent class you will be able to tame your little beast ;)

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  • I agree with whats been state above, and I can't not express fervently enough that dominance training is NOT what should be used with a Basenji. This is a old school tactic that has lead to very aggressive dogs & biting habits. This form of dominance behavior with these type of dogs could endanger your children, as your dog doesn't know it's place or how to communicate with you properly out of fear of physical retribution.

    Niping and biting are all apart of how your puppy experiences the world, dogs don't have hands so they sense and feel with their mouths. How was your bite inhibition training ? That should have started the moment the pup was brought home. When teething bites are too hard a high pitched "yelp" should be emitted and play time / all stimulation must end abruptly. This is what puppies do to each other within their litters, this is "dog" language. Your kids should practice this as well, it is only with consistency from all family members that your puppy will begin to change it's habits.

    Also remember all dogs are not the same, just like people, so what worked for your other Basenji may not fit your puppy. I would grab "Other End of the Leash" by Patricia B McConnell for clues on working with your dog and not against it. Posture, eye contact, reactions, those all matter here. "The Puppy Primer" by her prob couldn't hurt either.

    As all B parents say, a tired Basenji is a good Basenji. So more exercise for this dog is more than likely required. An hour outside is scraping the bare minimum, so if you can increase the walk times do. If not, try giving your puppy complicated tasks inside, kibble and peanut butter in a Kong toy (freeze it if your pup gets it out too fast) can entertain for a while, a good pizzle stick sometimes hours - Basenjis crave mental stimulation so games or puzzles (hiding food in objects for them to get out or agility training) are very helpful tools here.

    Finally search the forums thoroughly for topics you have problems with because so many of us have experienced the same things, there are golden nuggets of advice all over the forum from many experienced breeders and owners who are extremely family and Basenji savvy.

    Good luck =)

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    Please, listen to these folks and stop all touching of this b which aren't positive.
    If you continue on this path, you will have a dog who bites any human who puts their hands on him, because of this "awful training" advice.
    Who is the breeder??? That will give us a clue to the lines this dog comes from and if there are behavior issues in that line.

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    Lauren- Thank you so much!!! What you're saying makes so much sense! All of you have had great advice. Thanks for the book recommendations.

    As far as the dominance goes I never in any way hurt him or make him fear me. He's quite comfortable in the positon in my arms belly up and will relax there for awhile. The floor excercises trainers have shown me are very brief, put him down and let him up after a couple of seconds. But I see that maybe that's not working.

    As far as the bite inhibition I've read about it on here in other posts but never knew much about it before. What's difficult however is getting everyone in the family to do it and be on the same page. The kids react when mouthed by him but I haven't had them try the yelping yet.

    The Trainer told me to try the Kong w/ peanut butter in it. So that's what I'm going to get him next to play with.

    I think the problem is alot of the training advice I'm getting at home is from those who own dogs like Golden Retrievers and these things work for them but aren't what is going to work with a Basenji. The one dog trainer said the last Basenji they had in class didn't last long. We're going to start the second class soon, and/ or Aglility. So hopefully that will help keep him busy.

    Thanks!
    Heather

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  • If you are taking your second set of classes from the same instructors that told you their last basenji student didn't complete training with them then you should consider finding a new trainer. I would recommend finding a trainer that is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT).

    You can search their site for trainers local to you.

    http://www.ccpdt.org/index.php?option=com_mtree&Itemid=16

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  • Yeah, golden retrievers are not the same :)

    A couple things I've learned along the way (our Simon is six months old yesterday): distracting with a positive command and a treat works OFTEN. If he starts revving, waving and saying no* really does nothing. What helps is sort of breaking the cycle with fun. (Yeah, basenjis can figure out that they can start fun with behavior, but whatever. He's a good boy.) So a quick session of sitting and down and touching our palms can focus him and THEN we give him something special like a kong and all is well.

    Another is three strikes. We are finding that sometimes he is just overtired and/or overstimulated, and so a quick pop in the crate for some breathing space for everyone can work wonders. Three strikes supposedly is 1 minute, 5 minutes, full nap – if the first minute isn't enough to unrev him, 5 minutes might be, and if not, let him just chill for a full nap. I would prefer another name for this method, because I think it SOUNDS like punishment, but it's totally not that kind of method. It's a problem-solving method.

    And walk the heck out of him. The heat is ridiculous right now, and that is a huge challenge for us. I'm not exactly an early riser :) But if I oversleep and miss that good walk time before it's hot, Simon's day is not as fun -- and neither is mine.

    If I ever wrote training advice, I would start with "don't teach the word no until you have at least 10 actual commands to try, and if you still think you need the word no, then teach a few more." I drove my adult kids nuts because I kept telling them "he doesn't know the word no". I prefer giving a dog something to DO rather than trying to teach him not to do*.

    **Quit is different. :D

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  • Old fashioned training methods led to the "untrainable" reputation that basenjis had for so long. Positive training leads to therapy dogs, obedience and agility champions, and happy pets.

    And along with all the great advice (The Other End of the Leash is excellent), remember that he is a full fledged teenager at this age, starting to rebel and push his boundaries. Even a great, well behaved basenji can become a handful at this age.

    I know you have a full life, but an hour invested a couple of times a day to walk or skate with him to tire him out may give you more rest later in the day, when he's sleeping. Trying to raise a couple of active kids and a basenji pup is not an easy job. Good luck!

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    The only time that dogs roll other dogs over onto their belly is to kill them.
    The alpha roll is completely outdated and has been scientifically disproven.
    Dogs willingly roll onto their back into submission they are never forced.
    Our dog was very bad for biting when he was a pup and the only method that worked for us was completely removing any attention from the pup and when he was calm initiate play in a way you want. such as with a toy.

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  • @listeme:

    Yeah, golden retrievers are not the same :)

    A couple things I've learned along the way (our Simon is six months old yesterday): distracting with a positive command and a treat works OFTEN. If he starts revving, waving and saying no* really does nothing. What helps is sort of breaking the cycle with fun. (Yeah, basenjis can figure out that they can start fun with behavior, but whatever. He's a good boy.) So a quick session of sitting and down and touching our palms can focus him and THEN we give him something special like a kong and all is well.

    Another is three strikes. We are finding that sometimes he is just overtired and/or overstimulated, and so a quick pop in the crate for some breathing space for everyone can work wonders. Three strikes supposedly is 1 minute, 5 minutes, full nap – if the first minute isn't enough to unrev him, 5 minutes might be, and if not, let him just chill for a full nap. I would prefer another name for this method, because I think it SOUNDS like punishment, but it's totally not that kind of method. It's a problem-solving method.

    And walk the heck out of him. The heat is ridiculous right now, and that is a huge challenge for us. I'm not exactly an early riser :) But if I oversleep and miss that good walk time before it's hot, Simon's day is not as fun -- and neither is mine.

    If I ever wrote training advice, I would start with "don't teach the word no until you have at least 10 actual commands to try, and if you still think you need the word no, then teach a few more." I drove my adult kids nuts because I kept telling them "he doesn't know the word no". I prefer giving a dog something to DO rather than trying to teach him not to do*.

    **Quit is different. :D

    This is great advice :) A lot of times, that crazy puppy behavior is overstimulation, and if you do a time out in the crate they will take a nap.

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    @Quercus:

    Just a quick note on this topic, because there is a ton of info on play biting back thru time here. But giving a puppy a chew toy because he is biting you just isn't going to work. The dog is nipping you because that is the only way he knows how to invite you (and the kids) to play. Anytime you push, squeeze, jab, grab, etc. in reaction to play biting it just makes the dog want to play harder. The puppy wants interaction, and needs to learn an appropriate way to ask for it. Try doing a short, fun training session when the puppy gets in a crazy mood. Or get a laser pointer, and have him chase that for 10 minutes or so (good for the kids to do, because they are stationary, yet playing with the dog, and wearing his energy off). Play biting always improves with age, but it can become an attention getting habit if you let it.

    Sounds like good sense, we're having this too with 7 month old tri Leo. distraction and getting rid of the energy works for play biting. We're now having a problem with territorial possesiveness. Growling and meaningful biting while on the bed or sofa. We are using the hold down for this, but after the verbal warning and the neck touch. This has nothing to do with play and everything to do with dominance. He's taken off the throne of his little kingdom, but gets striaght back up and does it again. We all know the behaviour, but it is really awful when done in front of strangers who advise me that it is a serious problem and the dog is vicious. I see it as Basenji behaviour that I have to find a way to straighten out

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    @sharronhurlbut:

    Please, listen to these folks and stop all touching of this b which aren't positive.
    If you continue on this path, you will have a dog who bites any human who puts their hands on him, because of this "awful training" advice.
    Who is the breeder??? That will give us a clue to the lines this dog comes from and if there are behavior issues in that line.

    i live in the UK and want to make a donation to the BRAT in the US. thankfully the UK Brat has no rescue dogs at the moment and hasn't for some time. If you can let me know how I can do that I'd be grateful

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    @tangokor:

    Lauren- Thank you so much!!! What you're saying makes so much sense! All of you have had great advice. Thanks for the book recommendations.

    As far as the dominance goes I never in any way hurt him or make him fear me. He's quite comfortable in the positon in my arms belly up and will relax there for awhile. The floor excercises trainers have shown me are very brief, put him down and let him up after a couple of seconds. But I see that maybe that's not working.

    As far as the bite inhibition I've read about it on here in other posts but never knew much about it before. What's difficult however is getting everyone in the family to do it and be on the same page. The kids react when mouthed by him but I haven't had them try the yelping yet.

    The Trainer told me to try the Kong w/ peanut butter in it. So that's what I'm going to get him next to play with.

    I think the problem is alot of the training advice I'm getting at home is from those who own dogs like Golden Retrievers and these things work for them but aren't what is going to work with a Basenji. The one dog trainer said the last Basenji they had in class didn't last long. We're going to start the second class soon, and/ or Aglility. So hopefully that will help keep him busy.

    Thanks!
    Heather

    I think the idea of holding a dog in the submissive position, a dog that is biting in an agressive manner not a play manner, is not about terrifying it, but waiting for it to relax. If I have to hold my biting, growling Basenji down I do so quietly, gently and stroke him until his mood passes when he is then allowed to return to normal behaviour. He does relax. I have to find a way to let him know that his behaviour is unacceptable without resorting to aggression myself. In this instance I find this useful, but I do believe that your Basenji is being playful and sees your children as other pups he's inviting to play. I don't think the two states should be confused. Exercise, playtime and ' I've used a clicker (any sound will do) to distract.

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    @starrlamia:

    The only time that dogs roll other dogs over onto their belly is to kill them.
    The alpha roll is completely outdated and has been scientifically disproven.
    Dogs willingly roll onto their back into submission they are never forced.
    Our dog was very bad for biting when he was a pup and the only method that worked for us was completely removing any attention from the pup and when he was calm initiate play in a way you want. such as with a toy.

    This isn't true. Watch two puppies play and there's plenty of roll over. Watch a male and female play and flirt and there's plenty of roll over. Play with your puppy and watch it voluterily roll over to get a tummy rub. Watch basnejis play with other naimals and roll them over for a good sniff. to suggest that this is purely a killing move is silly.
    The problem with withdrawing attnetion from a misbehaving dog is that it will create seperation anxiety and every time you need to go out, it will believe it's being punished.

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