Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tips on Dog Behavior & Dominance Issues

Occasionally basenjis, who were previously well behaved and secure in their foster homes, are returned to BRAT because they became aggressive or developed separation anxiety in their adoptive homes. As BRAT coordinators, most of  us do our best to prepare the adopters to deal with the typical behavior issues. Usually a dog who has been in foster care has been determined to be a particular personality type with predictable behaviors in specific situations. However, many times the problematic behaviors have not surfaced in the foster homes because the foster families do not allow the basenjis to become equal or superior to people while in foster care.

 Adopters sometimes over-do it when catering to the needs and desires of the adopted dog. Too much doting behavior on the part of the owner can make a dog question who is in charge. If a dog's personality leans toward being the "top dog" in the pecking order, the dog will soon try to take over the household. Behaviors such as not moving out of a favorite chair
or off the sofa to allow the owner to sit there, are dominance issues that should not be allowed to start.

A dog should not be treated as a human equal. The assertive, strong-willed dog will become increasingly aggressive if allowed to be in charge. If a dog does not have a dominant personality, but is treated as an equal, he will become insecure and highly stressed. This dog is likely to become frustrated, destructive and annoying.

These concepts are explained in more depth in the book "Jelly Bean verses Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by C. W. Meisterfeld. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in dog behavior, has a dog with behavior problems, or wants to understand dog behaviors before adopting. Because many basenjis are fairly primitive in how their instincts influence their behaviors, I recommend it to all inexperienced basenji applicants. The principals apply to any breed, however we at BRAT understand why basenjis need a rescue group and why their owners need a support group. They can be very complex creatures.

Some good habits to form with your basenji:
  1. Require him to sit before being fed, leashed for a walk, before a door is opened to go out or at other times you are doing something in his behalf. He will feel he has earned your service.
  2. Do not allow your dog to growl at you in response to anything you ask him to do. If he does, have the water bottle ready (to discipline him with a squirt of water) and use it judiciously.
  3. Praise your dog when you catch him doing something good, like chewing a toy, moving over or getting down when he sees you approaching your favorite chair, or asking to go outside to potty even though it is raining, snowing or just plain cold.
  4. Make the crate a desirable place to be when you are gone or preoccupied. Crating is beneficial in protecting your dog from ingesting things that might harm him as well as protecting the furniture and home from damage. It is not cruel nor unhealthy to crate your basenji as long as you don't over-do it.
  5. Establish routines. Just like people, dogs are more comfortable when they know what will happen next so long as it is not unpleasant.
It is BRAT's goal that all adoptions be permanent. Many people who follow this blog probably have training tricks and techniques that they have developed through experience. Please share them with us so we all might benefit.  Thanks!!
-The BRAT Board

1 comment:

  1. Great suggestions. There can be a genetic elements that makes other dogs more predisposed to react aggressively than others. Poor socialization, or socialization that resulted from a bad experience can cause a dog to become aggressive afterwards. Bad experiences at any time can potentially cause to dog aggression. Dogs are likely just as susceptible to mood disorders as humans are as well. Yet a lot of dog aggression can be cured and reduced – so do not give up on your dog.