Devoted to Basenjis as Pets
Betsy Polglase (updated 2013)
Introducing your new Basenji and your established (preferably opposite sex!) Basenji should be done with care and sensitivity, the same way as you would bring a new baby into the household. The established Basenji is used to being the only “baby” in the household, and suddenly you are bringing in an “interloper” on his or her turf. Be sure to give the established one lots of attention, too.
Basenjis are very interested in “pack order,” and their first order of business is to get straight who is “top dog.” As much as you want to be even-handed, whoever they decide is top-dog needs to be supported. If you support their decision, they won’t have to continually squabble about it.
The very best combinations seems to be dogs who are a bit different in their needs for dominance. A less outgoing dog may get along better with a more confident dog than he would with another less outgoing dog, for instance. Two dogs who are both determined to be “alphas” can also be troublesome together—even if they are of the opposite sex.
One thing to remember when assessing personality combinations: the truly “alpha” dog is not the dog who makes all the noise. The noisemaker is most likely an “alpha wannabe”—possibly even a “fear-biter.” True alphas seldom have to prove their dominance—other dogs just seem to sense that they are alpha and respect their status. Some true “alphas” can be quite affable. They can afford to be.
How To Introduce Them
Introductions are best done with two people. Take the two dogs for a nice long, leashed walk where they can see each other but not touch.
When you come back, closer introductions should be done in neutral territory, if possible. Use a fenced-in back yard or the cellar or garage of your home—somewhere which is not a usual place for your established Basenji to go.
Put a collar and a 1-foot grab leash on each of them, and turn them loose. Stay out of the way! I would expect a bit of stiff-legged posturing when they first meet, and possibly a little growling display, but soon they should both be off investigating something else together.
Absolute worst case is that they try to attack each other immediately to prove dominance. Do not interfere unless it looks to be rapidly escalating into a truly hurtful dog fight. Most of the time the worst thing that will happen is that one of the dogs will bowl the other one over on his or her back and stand over him or her until the other “submits.”
If they get along just fine after a bit of stiff-legged display, that is wonderful and you can go ahead and integrate the new one into the household.
If they attack each other on sight, pull them apart by the 1-foot grab leashes so you don’t get accidentally bitten, and you might need to crate them within visual distance of each other overnight. The next morning take them for a walk together–near each other but not touching and then try the introductions again.
Praise both of them mightily when they are behaving well with each other. Each person might even hand-feed a small treat separately to each of them for behaving well.
Avoiding “Set-up” Situations With Two Dogs
There are four things which can start a squabble with dogs (and people, too!):
Copyright © 2013 Betsy Polglase
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