Basenji Companions

Devoted to Basenjis as Pets

Basenjis and Other Dogs

Pack Order; Introducing them; Avoiding set-up situations

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.

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Basenjis in a pack.

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.

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Basenji and a Great Dane see eye to eye.

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.

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Basenjis inspect a Dachshund.

Avoiding “Set-up” Situations With Two Dogs

There are four things which can start a squabble with dogs (and people, too!):

    1. Sex – Two dogs of the same sex are more likely than not to spell trouble—if not now, then down the line when they are about six months to a year old (“adolescence” and sexual maturing). This is true even if they are neutered or spayed. (In neutering or spaying, you alter the “nether regions,” but you don’t neuter the head.)
    2. Food – Dropping food on the floor is a setup for a fight. Feed them both in their crates or by holdng the bowls for them. We would recommend against using rawhides until you the dogs know each other very well (and sometimes even then). Some dogs will turn into slavering beasts over them.
    3. Attention – from “the boss”
      • They may both want to be under your armpit when you are lying down. Put one on either side of you.
      • They both may want to be petted simultaneously. (See above)
      • If you have one in your lap, he or she may play, “I’m in the lap—and YOU’RE NOT! (and growl fiercely) Both in the lap simultaneously is difficult to do. Scratch one’s ears and have the other in your lap.
      • They may “grandstand” for you. Like small children, they may be getting along just fine until they see that you are there to observe. “Changing the subject” frequently helps this–ask them both if they want a cookie, and make them both “Sit!” Worst case, get up and remove the “audience.”
    4. Crowding – bumping into each other in a doorway or accidentally colliding outside when running are two times when snarking may occur. Sometimes there is not much you can do about it except be aware that it may occur.

Copyright © 2013 Betsy Polglase
All rights reserved.

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This entry was posted on March 3, 2013 by in Tips and Training and tagged , , , , .
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