My Corgi, Wilbur, was almost two when he started showing serious signs of aggression toward my husband and I.  He has always been food aggressive so he has to go through an entire production to eat food and we work on petting him while he eats. Back in late October/November he started biting us. His biting is random for the most part with no rhyme or reason. I will be petting him and things look to be going great until he suddenly attacks. We have consulted a trainer but the biting hasn’t stopped. My Wilbur walks great on a leash, is almost 100% on healing and is very smart. He can often learn a new trick within 15 minutes instead of the hours it takes our almost one year old Ellie. We don’t know what triggers his barking. After obedience training the severity of his bite attempts have lessened (we can actually get our hands out of the way on time). Wilbur is a very sweet dog but it is hard to trust him because he will go from loving and affectionate to suddenly attacking. Any ideas on this? He is neutered and pretty obedient.

 

Wilbur also has a barking problem. He has had this problem sense he was a puppy and we’ve never need able to break it. We tried praise, ignoring him, treats (where he would bark just so he could get the treat when we said “quiet”), and we also tried the spray bottle (tragic).  We’ve been working with a trainer and are now at the shock collar stage.  We only use a minimal setting (much lower than an electric fence) and tested the intensity on ourselves before using it on the dog. The collar isn’t helping much either. We allow his low barks (or chuffs) and other corgi noises and only correct the loud barking.  He’s been in the same house his entire life (we live on a main road) and nothing has changed.  Please help. I love my corgi but his behavior is out of control. He went from a dog I fell asleep on the couch with to one I don’t trust on my lap. He is very intelligent and friendly until he attacks. It is making for a very difficult living situation when you add the barking on top of the bite attempts.  I’m reminded of the times he didn’t miss every time I look at my scarred finger from the two times he got ahold of me. Have any of you experienced this before?  Your advice is appreciated.

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Have you had a thorough vet evaluation to rule out any pain issues?   I know it sounds unlikely, but some dogs get very protective if they have a sore spot and think you might be moving anywhere near it.

That would be my first step.   

If that was ruled out, I would find a trainer who can determine what drives the aggression and work from there.  For instance, you would handle a dog who bites out of fear much differently than one who bites to "correct" you for what he sees as social transgressions.   You would handle a dog who resource-guards (it might be a resource you don't see as important, so may not recognize) differently too.  


Because of that, I think it's hard for anyone on line to give you specific training advice.  Personally I would not use punishment til I had someone who could tell me what was causing the aggression;  if you are punishing fear or pain (even mildly punishing) it's counter-productive.  If the dog is "correcting" you for what he sees as bad behavior, then the dynamic needs to change so he realizes it's not his place to do so.  If he's earlier been corrected for growling, he may have learned to lash out silently rather than giving a warning that he's unhappy or uncomfortable.  And so on.


Good luck!  Dealing with a dog who bites people is one of the toughest things there is.  If you need to, ask your vet for a referral to a behaviorist (one who's been trained in that specialty, as opposed to someone who hung out a shingle because she's good with dogs.)   If your vet can't help, see if there is a veterinary teaching hospital in your region and ask them for a referral.  

By the way, when does he bark? It's normal and proper Corgi behavior to alert bark when they see something different.  Their job to alert, your job to check it out and see if different is bad or different is ok and give that feedback to the dog.  If you are correcting him for normal barking, that could also increase his frustration (and his confusion as to what his role is) and make him more likely to lash out in other situations.   You say you live on a main road.   Corgis will bark in that circumstance.   Mine will let me know if anything is outside.  I will look out and say "It's ok, thank you" to let them know they can stop alerting me.   I live on a street with a lot of pedestrian traffic, therefore I deal with a lot of barking.  I figure that's my issue for bringing a barking breed into a house where there is lots to bark at, and don't try to make my dogs change.

Wilbur went to the vet and received a clean bill of help. The vet thought he might have a behavioral issues and didn't understand his aggression. Wilbur barks at everything and nothing. We tell him he's a good boy for the alert but correct him when he doesn't stop barking when we tell him "quiet". We've tried both rewards and punishment. We've consulted several trainers on the aggression and they aren't sure what's causing it because he's a well disciplined and mostly affectionate dog. He isn't consistent with his attacks and we aren't sure what sets him off. Just wasn't sure if anyone out there has seen anything like this before. It’s really strange and makes life with him a little difficult. It’s hard not being able to trust him and having to be somewhat on alert whenever petting him.

PS: I don't mind him alerting me (my other corgi does the same), just just won't stop once he gets going. He can litterly bark for hours.

I agree with Beth, the complexity of the situation you describe and the biting of people does not lend itself to on line solutions. I do however have serious reservations about using a shock collar and especially about using it on a people aggressive dog. IMO the use of a shock collar on your dog can actually make him worse, more unpredictable to you and may put you, or other humans, at risk of more severe biting.  I also would not be petting him or in any way disturb him when he is eating, this is also a well intended technique which can put you at risk and actually make the dog more likely to bite.  Feed him in a room where he is alone and out of traffic, laundry room or even a small bathroom will do, door open.  When he is done and walks out of that room, you pick up the bowl and put it away until the next meal.

Also, do not keep him on your lap, or on your bed, or on the couch next to you.  He should be on the floor and not in a dominant position.  This may be hard to implement if you are used to allowing him these things, but do work in this direction.  This advice will not solve the problem, but is meant to not aggravate it further.

It is very hard to find a trainer who understands the root of dog aggression and what can be done to correct it, unless you are dealing with a physical issue, or fear aggression ( a dog who bites out of fear does not act as you describe, so this is unlikely to be your situation). 

I would recommend a complete Vet check, including thyroid testing, as thyroid malfunction can trigger aggression.  Where did the dog come from?  Temperament has definite genetic components and if you know he comes from good, even tempered dogs, that would eliminate the likelihood of heredity.

I hope you find the help you seek.

It does not sound like you have done anything wrong.  It does sound like he has a very low frustration threshold, perhaps.  I wonder if there is something he can hear in the distance that you can't that has him chronically upset/worried/angry etc.  Is there any chance he was a singleton (only pup in the litter?)  Singletons can have low frustration tolerance and poor impulse control.

Some lines can also be a little nasty.  I know our breeder mentioned once that she'd used a stud and his offspring turned out to be a bit mean;  she was placing one of the dogs in a performance home and warned the prospective owner of the situation.  I didn't ask what line it was because frankly I didn't really want to know.   So it may be genetic and showed up at 2 because that's when they lose the last of "puppy personality" and get their adult personality.  If you have contact with the breeder, you might want to ask if anyone else in his litter had behavior problems.  

If local trainers haven't helped, I'd check with the nearest vet hospital to see if they have a behavioral program.  Honestly sometimes you need to have tips to "manage" rather than "fix" problems like this.  

You have my sympathy.  It's hard not to trust your own dog.  We had a little dog when I was a kid who would sometimes bite, but she was all of 16 pounds and it didn't really hurt; it was more of a nuisance.

Katy i feel like your story is me those memories.....very bad, with one exception my girl hasn't bit us just growls really bad, but she bites the dogs we have around here , my sons and my other corgi.. fear and aggression, both . Now that shes two you think she have learned who is charge? LIke you i have used the NILIF , taken her through 3 obedience classes ..The lady who i got her from is no longer breeding either , thank God..

My worry of rehomeing her is will she be happy? will they be abusive if she treats them the way we been treated? Believe me i think its so awful the thought of not having her  any more but im also worried for Frankie that she is making him fearful...

I did find out she has a very tiny liver which may be a problem, and im calling the vet to day to ask what he suggests... I am devastated and as i said in the comment earlier my husband is done...

 

Thank you. Our 1 year old is a joy to be with. It is difficult because Wilbur is very smart and a fast learner. We are working on maintenance right know and are looking for triggers (body language) to determine times to avoid him. When he isn't showing signs he's a joy to be around but we are always cautious. We've worked with several trainers (including one that went through Ceaser's program) and have been told repeatedly that his intelligence is part of the issue. We were also told to not count on correcting the problem but to constantly work on maintenance. Wilbur is a floor only dog that now heals, walks perfectly on a leash, and comes when he is called. He runs through an agility course we built for him and goes for long walks every day. He still looks like he's ready to attack from time to time so we give him space when he looks like he needs it. We are very bonded to him and are hoping maintenance will be enough We do wonder at times if he would be happier living as an only dog in the county without the noise of traffic to agitate him.

Colleen, I wish i knew how to help... im dealing with a similar problem , Carly has gotten very aggressive, so much so im considering  anti stress Meds. Its with a our other dog and my sons dog as opposed to any of the humans in the house.. Carly is 2 yrs and hates our sons corgi whos 4 and a very gentle kind temperament. She use to love him but now when he comes to visit we have to lock her up. (which is not a problem)..

Were extremely frustrated by her behavior because off and on she does this with Frankie our 1 yr old male , who is very submissive to her and really sweet.. I have done every thing i know to do.. She does have a health issue but im not sure it causes her to react so mean. We found out a few weeks ago she has a very small liver 1/3 the size of a normal one, and its not suppose to cause her any problems. BUT...it Seems to be hard for her to take the trifexis , the last couple have made her very cranky, im calling the vet to ask if it might be the cause.

I just thought id say i understand and hope you get this worked out, i love my girl so much i just cried tonight because my husband is done worrying with her. Hes afraid she will hurt one of our grand-kids when she turns this way one day.. they are here very often, so far shes been very sweet to them ..to the point of laying down when they are near her and letting them rub her belly..

Anyway im devastated at what might come of that and of her issues becoming something we cant handle.. Ive done everything the breeder of my Frankie has told me to do, about making her know that we are in charge and i feed them separate .  When she is in this frame of mind it can last for days, doesn't matter if food is around or if  he just walks in front of her..

I dont understand How one corgi can be so high strung  with so much aggression and the other so sweet and easy going?

Amy, some dogs are genetically more dog aggressive than others.  Same sex aggression is more common than opposite sex aggression, especially toward a submissive opposite sex housemate.  On the bright side, dog to dog aggression does not mean a dog will be people aggressive ( although same dogs are both ) so I would only be concerned about the grand-kids accidentally getting in the middle of a dog fight.  I know you love the dog, and probably do not want to hear this,  but I would consider trying to find her a good home where she is the only dog.  I doubt you can solve this issue with training and the risk of injury to the other dog is high as aggression tends to escalate, not decrease.  If she is people friendly, as an only dog, she will make someone a good pet and be happier herself.  In the meantime, I would not leave her home unattended with your other dog, but leave then safely separated when you are not there.

Anna i assume you were talking to me , im Priscilla so i will respond..  i cried my self to sleep last night over this.. My husband is serious about this stopping now.. She has  had a behavior problem since day 1 but it has escalated.. This morning im calling the vet to see if he has a suggestion, i research anti anxiety meds for dogs last night and there may be something she can take to calm her down.

My grandkids a never in the presence of eith dog with out me there but as the hub said one can never be sure it wont happen and just as motioned they could be in teh middle of a fight. I dont want to be in denial over this because ...the children love to give treats to them and food is sometimes a issue.

Priscilla, I know it's really hard because I've had that kind of a dog and ended up having to put her to sleep after she had done serious damage to our other dog that was very submissive, larger than her and had raised her... At that point, my husband was ready to kill her with his bare hands and putting her to sleep was the only option left.  I would not recommend or try anti-anxiety drugs for this problem>  I had a Lab in my classes who was very dog aggressive (unusual in Labs).  The breeder's Vet put her on Prozac, she became people aggressive.  When taken off Prozac, after awhile, she was placed in a home where she was the only dog and she was fine, with no further aggression towards people.  When you add medication to the mix, you further complicate the picture, that is my experience.  Your husband is pushing you in the right direction and you all deserve  peace in your household.

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