How to Stop a Basenji from Biting (Strategies)

Are you trying to figure out how to stop a basenji from biting? It’s a common problem among Basenji owners, especially as puppies. Whether as a pup or full-grown, a Basenji bite can inflict some real damage and you need to nip this habit in the bud before it gets any more out of hand.

Basenjis are hunting dogs by nature and will tend to express aggressive behaviour, especially when left unchecked. A common trait is of biting playfully but this can quickly get out of hand if allowed to go on for too long.

A Basenji being asked to wait during training
A Basenji being asked to wait during training. They respond to movements as well as verbal cues.

A great way to stop them from biting is to assert dominance over them as well as give visual and auditory communication to stop them from exhibiting this behaviour.

Basenji Puppy Biting

Basenjis are generally a bundle of energy and they will express it through very playful behaviour. They generally like to play a lot and particularly enjoy the chase. It is said of Basenjis that they will chase anything that moves.

When they are puppies, they tend to like to play a lot and part of that playfulness involves nipping and biting. We’ve all experienced a puppy or dog bite which is done in a playful manner. Larger dogs tend to know the limits and when they play-bite, they do it in a gentle manner.

stop basenji biting

This may be with another dog, family pet or with humans. When they are still puppies though, they tend to not know what the limit is and will put a little more force than is necessary. I remember when my Basenji was still a puppy and they would bite at my heels. It’s a creepy and annoying feeling especially when they put more force than necessary.

It’s natural to wave it off and attribute it to playfulness but this habit needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible. There are a number of ways for you to do that and one of them is to assert your dominance over them.

Why Your Basenji  Bites and How to Stop It

Dogs are generally pack creatures and packs have hierarchies and the alpha sits at the top of it. When they interact with other dogs, they naturally respect this chain of command. From time to time, however, a younger Basenji may challenge the alpha for the privilege of being alpha..

a small basenji looks a an all white husky
A small Basenji looks at a white Husky. What a mix!

If they defeated the alpha, they would take over but if they didn’t, they had to submit. Your dog is always looking to you for leadership and protection. The alpha plays both these roles in a pack and challengers only rise when they sense weakness.

When your Basenji notices that you are not showing leadership through firmness, they will naturally take over that leadership role. This is not sinister behaviour at its core but just a way of protecting you as part of the pack because they feel that you are not able to protect yourself and the pack.

When your puppy begins to exhibit biting behaviour, you need to be firm with them. Shout out a firm no when they start biting. If they continue with this behaviour, take away any privileges by taking actions such as stopping any playing and walking away.

Do this enough times and they will cease that behaviour. Another thing that you could possibly do is to appeal to their emotional side. Basenjis are very intelligent and independent which makes them hard to train but they can also express empathy.

When you show them that they hurt you, they will soon stop the behaviour. A way to do this is to exaggerate a response by crying out as you pull away your hand. When they see that they’ve hurt you, they will stop doing the action that hurts you.

Does Training Help Stop Your Basenji Biting?


As far as your Basenji’s biting problem is concerned, training can go some way towards stopping this behavior. In the case of puppies though, you cannot take them to formal obedience training. That can only start at around 6 to 8 months.

Does it mean that they can’t be trained at all before they reach this age? Far from it. They can actually begin to receive some basic training such as “come here”, “no” and “leave it”. You can also introduce “stop biting” in there as well.

Make sure that you reward them for good behavior through treats or affirmations. Also, ensure that you make them aware of bad behavior by being firm. It’s not an overnight process by any stretch of the imagination but consistency will pay off with time.

Full-Grown Basenji Biting and How to Deal With It

It’s one thing for your Basenji puppy to be biting and quite another for a full-grown adult to be doing it.  You need to be extra cautious with an adult Basenji because the damage they can inflict can be much worse.

red and white basenji puppies
Two Basenji puppies are playbiting each other.

The bite force of an adult Basenji is much more powerful than what you get on a puppy and if you have children, this can prove to be a big problem. How then do you deal with an adult Basenji who has biting issues?

Just like with the puppy, you need to train your Basenji to be obedient to commands.  The same rules of showing dominance over them apply so that they know who is in charge. Be firm with them as you give them a verbal command.

Dogs communicate a lot using body language and because of that, they are able to interpret body language much better than humans can. You want to be able to ensure that when you reprimand them for bad behavior, your body language communicates that as well.

If you do this and they remain unresponsive and continue in this behavior, you might need to seek the services of an experienced dog trainer or sign up for obedience school. Basenji dog breeders in your area may also be able to help you out with behavioral issues.


Your Basenji has an inborn prey drive which is one of the biggest drivers of aggressive behaviour. You need to ensure that make sure that you use firmness and positive reinforcement to get the best results and stop your basenji from biting.