From the AKC Meet The Breeds*: "Because [the basenji] often worked out of sight of hunters, he can tend to be independent and aloof and prefers to meet strangers on his own terms." What exactly does that mean? We call them snarky or particular; preferring their comfy spot, possibly next to their favorite person and protesting when having to move. Perhaps they duck away, growl or snap at a well meaning pat or when an inappropriate item is being taken away from them. Is this behavior OK? Yes and no. There are different reasons for the behavior, but the dog is making a statement that it is uncomfortable or unhappy. People need to recognize and respect that and not push the dog, which could escalate the negative behavior. (In the moment, offer a treat as a trade to get the dog to do what you want. NEVER use force to get the dog to "submit.")
The first thing to do is eliminate a health issue as the cause of the behavior. Just like people, when a dog is not feeling good, it can act out. Hypothyroidism, misalignment/spinal issues, arthritis, diet/allergies, even a UTI can cause enough discomfort that would result in negative behavior. Once health issues have been ruled out, you will need help defining the aggression and seeking out the appropriate professional to address the behavior.
If you have a newly adopted dog or foster dog, contact the coordinator as soon as there are any concerns. With the help of your coordinator and using the Links And Resources page on the BRAT website (http://www.basenjirescue.org/links.htm), you can find a certified trainer (http://www.ccpdt.org) or behaviorist (http://iaabc.org). The ASPCA's Virtual Behaviorist (http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist) provides wonderful insight to behavior issues and also provides links to finding help local to you, as well as what to look for in a behaviorist/trainer and the questions to ask of the professionals in your search.
If all else fails and you are overwhelmed or confused as to what to do, contact me. I will be happy to help you sort out the issue and guide you.
Roberta KosekVice President, BRAT
*AKC Meet the Breed http://www.akc.org/breeds/basenji/index.cfm