Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Doggie Greetings

Here's a question I struggle with all the time, that I want to throw out there to all of you: How should you let your basenji greet other dogs?

I have two basenjis, and one is fine greeting other dogs but the other is not. My BRAT boy Biko used to be shy and let the other dogs greet him, but now that his confidence has grown, so has his ego. Now he lunges at the end of the leash, growls, snaps, and basically makes a huge show of what a big dog he is (not). We have received several points of advice on how to work with him on this problem, including:

  • Let the other dog sniff his butt first. This involves me spinning Biko around and holding him so that his hind end is forward, basically giving it up to the other dog as a peace offering. I have had only periodic success with this; usually he's still growling and snarling on the "other end."
  • Hold him behind me so that I'm the leader. Several folks (including the dog whisperer at last year's BRAT Convention) have told me that he does what he does because he's protecting me. When possible, I try to have other folks walk him. However, since it's usually me by myself walking two basenjis, I don't usually have this option. So, the next best thing is to have him get behind me, from which vantage point he usually continues to snarl and growl while I greet the other dog and pay him no attention. This sometimes works.
  • Walk him alongside the other dog like it's no big deal, but never allow them to come face-to-face. This works the best, but it's not appropriate for every situation. For example, meeting other dogs on the dog beach, or at the dog park. And even still, sometimes he still tries to pick a fight.

So, does anyone have any advice about what I could be doing better to socialize my little boy? I want him to be social, but unless he can learn to greet other dogs nicely, he'll never have the chance! What has worked for you?


  1. Interesting.... I walk my two b's also and the EXACT thing happens. I have one very friendly and one that wants to EAT the other dogs we meet. In addition, this causes my dogs to go at each other. It is a bit embarrassing. And not much fun. Advice would be great.
    ps my dogs are GREAT WITH each other because dog #1 lets dog #2 be the boss.

  2. "Dogs are from Neptune"
    I love the philosophy. Works on a rescued Basenji boy.

  3. I have a B mix, who I put through a year of training... meet & greet being one of the training points... we simply practiced, ALOT, armed with a clicker and fabulous treats (chicken, hot dog pieces, liver biscotti, etc..). when he was able to greet nicely, he got rewarded (over time just fade out the rewards). Now he's able to handle most with a simple "first name/last name" greeting (first name = head, last name = rear). if he gets snarly he is taken a few steps away, and put in a sit/stay, once we refocus we try again, or move on.

  4. We've been training our B girl for a year because she lunges and snarls at any dog that comes near her when she's on leash. We also just practiced a lot with dogs nearby by clicking and treating for good behavior. Sometimes we'll play "Find it" where she sniffs the ground looking for treats and that shows the other dog that she's not a threat. I don't think she'll ever be fully comfortable greeting other dogs while she's on leash; however, off leash at the dog park or at daycare she's quite social. We're okay with her not saying hello on walks and just getting her sniffs in during her off leash play sessions.