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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey there!

I just happily adopted a beautiful Basenji, about 4 yo, from rural NH, about 4 days ago. I live in Maine near a fairly busy street that I've noticed my dog is starting to react to.

Unfortunately, the traffic is constant throughout the day and dies down at night so he is constantly exposed to it and I can't control it. My windows are not sound-proof by any means. He has started to pace in the house from window to window whenever he hears a large truck or motorcycle go by. It wakes him up from sleeping. He hasn't vocalized at all but will have his ears erect, pace, and tail tucked between his legs or down. This has made it very difficult to walk him outside to go to the bathroom. He has gotten to the point where he is not taking food or reacting to my verbal cues. He will wait at the top of the stairs and I have to wait and coax him down before he is ready to go outside, which can take 5-10 mins for him. I have tried treating him when a car/truck goes by but he is not always receptive to food. I've read about traffic sound CD's for desensitizing and counter conditioning. Has anyone had any luck with that? I'm uncertain about it working since the traffic is constantly heard in all rooms of our apartment.

He also has issues with biting. He plays extremely rough and has no understanding of boundaries or personal space. He will jump right on me during play and bite repetitively. I've tried teaching him gentle and off for cues but he only responds when I have treats. I don't want to treat him for his biting. I have begun clicker training as well and will click and treat when he pulls away and stops biting, however, he usually goes back to biting right after. The breeder I adopted him from said his previous owner, a young man, played very rough with him so he bites pretty hard. The breeder was currently disabled and couldn't teach him not to bite hard. I haven't tried the yelping or "ouch" method yet since I gotten mixed reviews about it. I've heard that yelping is not effective with adults and imitates prey noises.

Any help you guys can provide would be HIGHLY appreciated. I'm sure he developed the noise phobia since he's never lived in a suburb. Also, he is still adjusting to a new home and establishing a comfort zone/territory outside. I understand it is alot to take in for a newly adopted dog in just 4 days of being in an apartment. I also plan to start bringing him to the dog park by the end of this week, which I'm hoping will be more calming for him. I really want him to adjust well and address any issues developing as quickly as possible vs bringing him back to the breeder.

Thank you!

Sarah
 

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I won't be of much help, but I can say be patient and consistent with the biting thing. It'll take some time, but he'll start getting it after enough repetitions. Keep treats with you at all times for now and as he begins to become more and more consistent you can phase yhe treats out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I also wanted to add that I have taught him "off" very successfully and he'll even scoot back half way across the room to get a treat. He understands that he has to provide distance in order to get the treat. Also, when I do this about 2 times, on the 3rd time, I can hardly coax him back to sniff my hand with the treat and he keeps backing away and getting excited. He's extremely smart and understands the clicker and the cue word. However, when I say "off" when he's biting he does not respond at all. It's only when I have a handful of treats that he will respond and back off.
 

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In what ways are you playing with him? Could you keep him off your hands/arms by using a tug toy? As he knows the "off" cue for treats, you could try training him the same way but using re-engagement with the toy as the reinforcement? Starting the training when he's relaxed and not already playing, so you're not trying to get him to learn when he's hyped up and already biting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In what ways are you playing with him? Could you keep him off your hands/arms by using a tug toy? As he knows the "off" cue for treats, you could try training him the same way but using re-engagement with the toy as the reinforcement? Starting the training when he's relaxed and not already playing, so you're not trying to get him to learn when he's hyped up and already biting.

I have tried redirecting his biting to a toy but he gets really riled up when playing and starts trying to engage us with his play. He will randomly lunge back and go for us if we are near him while he's playing. He will also run back and forth from room to room and jump on us with the toy. If we get up he will keep biting and follow us. He will not drop the toy if I say "off" either and will tug instead or whip it around and run away. I can effectively take his toys or chews when he's not in this state. I feel he's too hyped up at this point to effectively intervene like you stated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I believe his breed contributes to his behavior as well as Basenji's are very independent. Sometimes he won't take the toy if he doesn't want it. He chooses what he wants when he wants. Food is a much bigger motivator than toys.
 

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He might possibly have a 'loopy training' issue with the biting: He chomps you hard, you tell him 'off', he stops, he gets a free treat :)

Try working some negative punishment instead. When he chomps down on you and blows off the 'off' command, stand up straight and fold your arms up and behind your back (this way he will be confused as to whether to jump at your face or behind your back, where your hands are). If he doesn't settle down in a few seconds... leave the room! This way it's no longer about finding a way to get a treat: Just as in dog-dog play, if he doesn't respect his playmate's boundaries, he'll find himself playing alone!

The traffic thing I would give some time, yet. It's quite common for dogs to be super wary and guarded for the first few weeks of living in a new place, with a new owner. You might find that once he settles down he can easily handle the traffic noises as he has probably been socialized to the sounds of large trucks in the country. I think that the CDs are also worth a shot, but you will probably have more luck desensitizing him when you have built up a rapport and a trust within him... just don't push him into anything uncomfortable (where you can help it) so that he can come to realize that you will not make him do anything terrifying.
 

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I have tried redirecting his biting to a toy but he gets really riled up when playing and starts trying to engage us with his play. He will randomly lunge back and go for us if we are near him while he's playing. He will also run back and forth from room to room and jump on us with the toy. If we get up he will keep biting and follow us. He will not drop the toy if I say "off" either and will tug instead or whip it around and run away. I can effectively take his toys or chews when he's not in this state. I feel he's too hyped up at this point to effectively intervene like you stated.
This article recommends the "yelp" method to interrupt play-biting, and also the neg punishment or time out that kelly528 suggested. Hopefully consistently disengaging with his rough play will help him learn some boundaries and to stop jumping all over you.
You could also try keeping his toys under lock and key so YOU are the one who chooses that it's time to play, not him. You can them take them away when he becomes too boisterous. (We keep my dog's tugs on top of a tall cabinet so there's no possible way she can get them).
 
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