Aggressive Behavior
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    Hello to all. I am new to this board, but not to basenjis. We have our second basenji, Rocco, he is six years old and neutered and is in excellent health. He is a perfect dog in every way, except that there are some people that he just does not like. These people tend to be the type that make my wife and I uneasy. He doesn't give much of a warning. No growling, I've never seen a basenji show it's teeth and of course he doesn't bark. He will have his hair up and that's about all. Because of this we tell all people that come to our house to completely ignore the dog. Pretend that he is not there and don't even look at him. This has worked extremely well for us. The dog gets to know the person and never forgets them. They can come over anytime and he will greet them as a friend.

    We are just at a loss to figure out what to do about the people he doesn't like.
    We will appreciate any suggestions.

    By the way, he has never barooed or yodeled. Any ideas about this?

    Thanks to all.

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  • So he doesn't bite? Just raises his hackles?

    If that's the case, I would assume that's not too concerning. I know Kananga pretty much always raises his hackles with new people, but he's naturally cautious. Never bites or shows any other signs. It's his way of meeting new people I guess.

    So perhaps just let your B approach people on his own to prevent any potential altercation. If he doesn't have any history of biting (regarding aggression), I don't see a huge risk. Someone correct me if I'm wrong…

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  • Also, it is quite amazing on how dogs in general pick up on our emotion. Not surprising that he doesn't like those that make you guys uneasy. :)

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    Welcome to the forum.

    There have been a very few people in their lives that my Basenjis just have not liked and have reacted as you describe. I tend to distrust these people too as I'm sure the Basenjis have an instinct about people. Are you sure that these people are not acting threatening to Rocco in any way? Basenjis don't like people standing over them and just staring (nor any other dogs actually) particularly if they are quite big and tall.

    I always tell visitors to ignore mine at first when they visit as I've found that the best way to ensure that the Basenjis don't jump up at them.

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  • Hello, welcome to the forum. As people have said if Rocco isn't biting then i don't think it's a problem. You probably keep your feelings about these people hidden wear as a Dog is more open.
    Our big cross breed Dog was very loving to nearly everyone , however on occassions he took a dislike to certain people and i have to say that it made me think twice about them.

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    If you want him to be more friendly to humans who come to your home. You can give the visitors "treats" to bring in and drop as they walk to the couch.
    The visitors don't look at the dog, or talk to the dog, but the dog gets the new person smells on the treats.
    It does work, but it takes time to set up.

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  • Great idea, Sharron. But…I also agree that those few people Rocco doesn't like deserve a second look, he may well sense something you can't quite put your finger on. We have found out basenjis sense of character to be pretty accurate over the years! That said, you surely don't want him to nip a dubious person, so training him to accept strangers is a good idea.

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    I'm sorry I didn't make myself clear. He has snapped at the people I discribed. There are a few instances where he tried to bite and one instance where he bit my sister-in-law. I know it is our fault and not his. He is an exceptional basenji. He has never damaged anything in our home or any home or hotel that he has stayed at. We can let him off the leash, when possible, and he will walk with us and never runs away. He is a fantastic dog in everyway, but we now have to tell people that he is not friendly and they can't pet him.

    He has never agressively went after anyone. He only tried to bite when these people tried to touch him.

    Hope this helps.

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  • If this a fairly new behaviour I would wonder if there might be an underlying health issue going on. When was the last time he was at the vet and was his thyroid ever checked?

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  • I was going to say Ayo always raises the hair on his back when meeting new things, people but especially other dogs but has beaver acted aggressively afterwards. I think they just do that

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    With the two people that he dosen't like, it's not new behavior. He was to the vet just a short time ago to have a tick removed and we told the vet. The vet said that he was being protective of us. He does not have any other symtoms of tyroid problems. His coat is great, he does not have seisures and he is great with other people. So far it's just two people that he wants to bite and only if they approach him. The problem with basenjis is that they never forget and they hold a grudge!

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  • I would continue to do what you are doing…tell people not to approach him. A lot of people try too hard when interacting with a Basenji, and it makes them nervous. It only gets worse if the people are a little nervous anyhow, and even worse if you are nervous about the people.

    And if you want to improve it, definitely use treats, and never correct the dog if he growls at someone (easy to say, hard to do). Check out the book "click to calm" by Emma Parsons, and "Cautions Canine" by Patricia McConnell

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  • Why shouldn't you correct the dog if he growls at someone?

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  • @dmey:

    Why shouldn't you correct the dog if he growls at someone?

    Because it will only make the behavior increase in this situation. If the dog is nervous about something, and gives a warning..and the human corrects the dog, it only intensifies the feeling the dog had in the first place; that 'there is something I need to be worried about here'. If you manage to correct the dog and successfully suppress the growl, when the dog gets anxious he won't bother to growl/snap first, just go directly to bite when he crosses his anxiety threshold. You aren't changing the dog's association with the trigger, only his reaction, and that often leads to people saying "he just bit without warning"

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  • That makes sense, so What should you do?

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    Respect the growl.

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    I agree aboiut the growl and agree with Quercus about people who try to hard and just upset the dog more. I know that some people take it personally if a dog doesn't like them and see it as a slight - they then work overtime to persuade the dog to respond to them with the opposite effect. It's possibly human nature. However I'm not sure that they would behave the same way to a human!

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  • Ideally you recognize the problem immediately, and work to change the dog's association with the trigger. The best way to do that is (in really simple terms) to feed the dog when in the presence of the trigger. But the trick is start to reward the dog before he crosses his anxiety threshold and starts to growl. As with any behavior you don't wish to see in your dog, you try to keep the behavior from happening. This is a really basic explanation of a rather complex training exercise. Anyone wishing to accomplish it should either check out the books mentioned above, and/or contact a trainer with experience in behavior modification using positive training methods.

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  • Add to that Andrea, sometimes, there are just people that dogs do not like. Just like people, dogs have different personalities and quirks. That doesn't mean he should be biting, it just means he doesn't like them and may always not like these people and they may need to stay out of his 'space'.

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  • First Basenji's

    Why have the thyroid checked if they bite?
    Bisa who will be 4 yrs old Christmas Day will growl, raise those hairs along her back, and show her teeth; sometimes tho she just 'goes after' whoever/whatever is irking her if they move too fast [ie: the GKs are playing with each and get too close to where she is laying].
    Bisa liked our oldest son's mini beagle when Ginger was alive; got along great BUT she does NOT like the full bred AKC Australian Shepard pup they now have [now 8 mos old and she still goes after it!].
    Bisa also growls and snaps at our grandkids [also see note above]. She has always been like this but it seems to be getting worse, hence my interest in doggie daycare and the suggestion of the thyroid being tested.

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  • Behavior or change in behavior can be a sign of Thyroid problems. It is not a "cure all", but a full thyroid panel can determine if that might be the sourse of the problem. If they are not feeling well, then that obviously can change their behavior.

    And have you talked to your girls breeder about her behavior?

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