Big Issues: Agression, Overweight, and Excessive Barking

So I have some really big issues that have actually brought me to this forum. First I'd like to say I have taken my corgi, Gilliam, through two obedience classes. I work with him some everyday, but sometimes he's very strong willed, other times he does exactly what I ask.

So he's very food and space aggressive. One of our friends have stopped bringing over his daughter because if she gets near his EMPTY food bowl or any of his toys he growls barks aggressively and has even knocked her over and started scratching and snarling. She used to come over all the time when he was a puppy and they played quite nicely together. He does not do this with us. I will fully put my hand in the food bowl while he's eating and he doesn't care. He does it with the cats though. He also tried to steal their food and will eat all of it if he can find a way to get to it. Also he thinks the cat box is a snack bar. We've had to come up with creative solutions for him not to get into their food or cat box, but sometimes he figures a way around our solutions.  The other night a dog walked up to him while he was outside using the bathroom, they were being friendly and sniffing then all the sudden he got growling and barking mean and chased it quite a ways before my hubby could get a hold of him and bring him back. He was off the leash since we've been trying that when he goes outside, which we've been doing for quite a while. He's fine with most other dogs. He plays with the German Shepard next door, the Boxer down the street, and my in-laws Mini Dachshunds.

Second he's overweight. He's really lazy, but he gets NO people food and his meals are portion controlled. We were feeding him 2/3 cup Royal Canin Medium Breed twice daily until about a week ago when I started feeding him 1/3 cup frozen green beans and 1/3 Royal Canin Medium breed twice daily with pumpkin puree in a Kong about every other day. He might be getting a little thinner, but its hard to tell. He also always gets a regular sized Greenie in the morning. We feed him some treats, but we tear them up and its maybe 1-2 treats in a day, if any.  We don't know how he's gotten so big, about 40 pounds. The vet had put him on Royal Canin Satiety, but he got even fatter and he pooped all the time, 1-2 accidents inside 10+ poops on a 15 min walk, so we stopped feeding him that. We kept him on it through 3 bags, so it wasn't just an adjustment thing.

He also does this bark howl thing if he hears anything outside. Seeing as we live in an apartment there is also something going on outside. Then he'll continue barking for a really long time. I think he forgets why he was barking, but just keeps on because he already barked. Like right now there's a painter next door fixing up an apartment that tenants just moved out of and he's going nuts. No amount of ignoring or 'no' is stopping him.

I'm a bit desperate. I don't know of any house call trainers where we live, since we live in a smallish town. When he was in training I had to drive a little over 30 minutes to get him to the trainer.

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First off, has he been aggressive towards anyone else besides the little girl? If so then it's a territory thing. He might feel threatened by them since he's smaller and they're bigger. You might have to use a crate to try to discipline him. My family had an aggressive dog when I was growing up and he was extremely aggressive towards certain people and when it came to touching the food bowel and such. We had to use a crate to try to train him into realizing it wasn't okay for him to behave in such manors. As for the cat issues, he might just be one of those dogs that doesn't get along with cats. If he was never raised around cats or born into an environment that had a variety of animals, it could have an effect on why he's acting the way he's acting towards cats. For the overweight problem, it might be caused by a lack of exercise. If he's not being exercised enough how he should be then that could be causing him to get lazy. You also might want to try organic dog food products, that's helped my dogs in the past lose some weight, but exercise is really the main key in keeping a dog healthy. For barking and howling, like I've said before with the aggression, using a crate is a good way to discipline a dog. Only do it for a couple minutes though (15-20 is plenty), also he might just be doing that because it's new sounds he's never heard before and this just might be his way of reacting to it. He might need training around loud noises and unfamiliar noises. I hope some of this helps! 

More exercise and a more healthful food choice. Vets can be great, but nutrition is very low on their training, and I shuddered when I read the ingredients in the food your dog was prescribed. #1 ingredient is powdered cellulose. That's sawdust, basically. Look it up. I would switch him to something with simple, real ingredients and continue to feed the same amount of kibble you mentioned (1/3 c twice a day).

Greenies also have a lot more calories than you might realize. One of them every single day is going to be a factor. You could opt to give a Greenie once or twice a week and brush his teeth on the days he doesn't get one instead.

Weight- Did the vet test his thyroid? It may be worth it to have a blood panel done. I would check the calorie count on his food and treats. What food to feed is a controversial  topic. Everyone has an opinion. There are many food threads that you can read. Keep an open mind as you do so. What works for one dog may not work for another. I like Honest Kitchen, but a friends dog gained weight on it. I am also very careful what Becca gets for treats. Dried lamb lung is a standby it is low fat and high value. Pick up the food dish after he finishes, then he can't guard it. For safety reasons gate him in another room when company comes for now.

Can you call your previous trainer for help? I also travel to get to my classes, but various trainers have been helpful in just answering my questions. You could try finding a class for reactive dogs. The facility I go to has such a class, it has fewer dogs and barking and strong reactions are worked on.

There are several holistic anxiety treats available. One is in treat form, I have used the cat version. I think it is made by Vermont Naturals. There is also Rescue Remedy and similar herbal concoctions. My last dog was extremely anxious. After trying training and natural remedies I talked to my vet and put him on anxiety meds. It is not a decision to be made lightly. Kramer felt so much more comfortable with life after. I wish now I had made the decision earlier.

I have used a white noise machine before to mute outside noise. If I know something is going to be happening in the neighborhood, I use it and also keep the TV on when I leave for work.

Cats/dogs- I have a gate across the door of the laundry room where the litter box is. It is inconvenient, but the only sure way to allow the cat access but not Becca. I also feed the cat in a gated room for the same reason. I would keep him on leash for his own safety for now. A flexi-lead or long training leash would give some freedom.

Exercise would also be beneficial. If he is 40 pounds you may want to check in with your vet. I tried to cover all of your questions. Keep an open mind with given advice, you know your dog, follow your gut with what might work for him.

I should have clarified that he's been around these cats (and one other that passed away two months ago) since he was 5 weeks old and he's 2.5 years old now. He only gets mad if they are near his feeding place, bowl down or not. In fact he and one of the cats play chase which is really cute, she chases him, then he chases her, rinse and repeat. They even lie down on the ground near one another sometimes. We can't really use a crate to discipline since his crate is his "safe place."  He's crate trained in the since that he stays in there when we aren't home and at night, and he barks at car doors opening and closing and things he hears everyday, and when people are over, but he still barks something insane if our friend's little girl comes over. He's always been super friendly to anyone else in the house. The guy that worked on our A/C a while back absolutely loved him and he absolutely loved that guy, its just that little girl.

If I could completely block off a room for the cats stuff I would, but we live in a tiny apartment, two bedrooms, one bedroom that no animals have free access to. I have the cat food on the far end of an old coffee table with a gate between the edge of that and the closet and the litter box is in a corner mostly blocked off my another coffee table with a computer on it and a box of books underneath it and a box of litter to block of the rest. He's such a little food stealer though.

I've started walking him for about 30 minutes. I started it about two weeks ago, but something stung his paw after our first walk, and so I had to wait for that two clear up to start again. We've done the walks consistently before, but with the heat it makes it difficult. I also work a weird schedule, and I'm the only one who takes him on long walks. In fact we just got back from our walk.

What kind of places sell these organic dog food? I know none of our local pet stores do and I doubt Wal-Mart does. Like I said small town. Our trainer now works at Best Buy, and is no longer a trainer. He worked at PetSmart when he was our trainer. As far as I know PetSmart doesn't really have specialized courses, and I can't take him to something like that because of my work schedule, which changes weekly and can encompass anywhere from 9am to 9pm. My husband also can't because he is frequently on-call and can't be that far from town when he is.

The treats I feed him are Wellness brand Turkey and Duck Recipe Soft and Chewy Treats, we break them into fourths when we give them. He doesn't really get very many maybe 1-2 in a day, but not everyday.

I'd hate to take his Greenies away from him, he absolutely loves them. Its one of his favorite words along with car ride.

If you decide to go with a different food try going to that brands website. There is usually a link to "find a store". Honest Kitchen has one. Some foods are hard to find easily. The agricultural feed store here carries some premium brands and will do orders. Do you have any feed stores nearby to check? Have you tried putting his food in a treat toy so he has to work to get it out? It will expend energy, but may make him protective of the toy.

I have had resource guarding issues between Becca and my cat. They will play together like you described above, but the cat couldn't go in Becca's crate or near a chewie. Each time Becca snapped at the cat over a toy, I took the toy and put it on top of the fridge. I also feed Becca in her crate to minimize any issues there. When Becca was appropriate with the cat she was rewarded. Now the cat can go in the crate, and walk by chewies. It took a few months of work.

Would there be room to use an x-pen to surround the cat food and litter box?

I may be wrong, but I think the only completely organic dog food is Castor & Pollux which is pretty hard to find unless you live near a Whole Foods or health food store that happens to carry it. I would be less concerned with organic and more concerned with the ingredients my dog is eating. An overweight dog should avoid food with lots of fillers such as corn. PetSmart will carry lots of brands that use much healthier ingredients than Royal Canin. Whoever sells your Wellness treats surely stocks Wellness kibble too. Wellness is a great brand of food.

Well maybe he just doesn't like cats that he's not familiar with or ones that have a strange scent to him. Did the little girl ever do anything that might have hurt him or affected him in any possible way? Being gone for to long, stepping on a paw, or anything of the sort? It might just be a size thing. Even if she's just a bit bigger than him, size might play a huge role in why he's being so mean towards her. Put the cat food on the table or counter space you don't use. I understand where you're coming from. My fiance and I live in an apartment complex and we're still puppy proofing our home. Well trying to at least. Try getting a kid's pool (a small one). Since it's so hot out (I don't know if you any type of balcony or what not) but little kid's pools are great for small dogs. Also you could look to see if there's any dog parks or dog beaches near you. That's also a great way to allow your dog to get some exercise. My one friend uses a trend mill for her corgis to get exercise daily and it seemed to help them. Just make sure everything is on a low setting. Petco sometimes carries organic pet food. Before I moved in with my fiance, in my old small town I lived in, there were two local family owned pet stores that carried nothing but organic products. So, you could always look on google to see if there's any family own pet stores in your area or somewhere close by. Teats you have to be careful with because sometimes the dog might expect to get a treat all the time. So try cutting back the treat by only giving him 1-2 treats only 2-3 times a week. With the Greenies, just find a way to limit how many you give him. Like two-three times a week. Portions play a huge role in a corgi's diet. Hope this helped!

Just wanted to say that I think a lot of your issues with get better with exercise. If you live in a hot area, take him for an early morning or late evening walk. Even 10 minutes here and there is better than none at all. 

I would work up to an hour walk. He sounds very anxious and if a dog is not exercised enough they will build up nervous energy. If walking doesn't seem to burn off that energy you might start jogging or riding a bike. Exercise, discipline and affection in that order. If he's worn out he won't have enough energy to disobey you or be aggressive.
You might try a spray bottle or practice leave it when he gets into the cat's food or litter box. Check out YouTube for inspiration and training tips. Just make sure you have burned off that excess energy before you try to go into a big training exercise.
Chewy.com seems to have good prices on food and treats. Do lots of research before you decide though and don't get taken in by phrases like 'human grade ingredients'.
Good luck!
Also I'd find out what the protein to carb ratio is of what you're feeding him and maybe even see about switching him to a weight control formula. If exercise and diet aren't helping him loose weight I'd go with Marcie's suggestion about the Thyroid

It takes quite awhile for you to really notice weight loss so be patient, you are on the right track. I always used to pick up the food bowls after feeding my food obbsesesed dog. You really have to block the kitty litter and food from him. Both are very bad for him as well as gross. Can you feed the cats up higher? Or clean the litter constantly.

As for the other problems a leash or rope dragged in the house will enable you to control him better. A simple,mild tug and a No can stop many behaviors. I would always close him up somewhere when the child is there. (unless you can have him evaluated by a proffesional trainer) Safety for the child is the most important factor. If she gets bitten it is horrible for her and probably death for him! He undoubtably sees the child as another dog buddy and sees no problem with treating her as he would another dog.

Having your dog off leash is always dangerous unless your dog is so highly trained that we would be asking you for advice :)

It is great you are increasing his walks. Not only is it excersise it increases your bond and teaches him to listen to you. Be sure to have him heel and occasionally release him to sniff.

I've never had a dog with these problems. When my friend's kid is here he is closed up. I'm just concerned for when we have a child. Is he going to be like this when we have a child? I just got full-time at my job so we are looking to buy a house within the next six months, and after that we'll start talking about have a child, we've been married for a little over two years.

I may be able to find something a little higher for the cats to eat on. I couldn't with my late cat, because she was old and couldn't jump very high, in the last year she couldn't even get over the baby gates. I wish I could put an X gate to block everything, but they're on opposite sides of the room and I have a huge, not-movable-until-its-empty storage unit in between them which I need to get into almost everyday and a closet right next to the coffee table the cats' food is on. He hasn't gotten to the cat food in over a month. Litter box yesterday right before I was about to clean it, which I do every morning, but I hadn't done it in what my one cat considers a 'timely manner' so she pooed right in front of it. Yes, I have more than one problem animal, lol. She is very persnickety especially for a stray I found outside at 9 weeks old who would have died in a few days without me finding her.

I don't know if I can do an hour every night. We've been doing half an hour and I was thinking after we did this for a while that we might start a 5K training program once it cools down and we can start earlier on days when I work the earlier shift. We already don't get back in until after 10, and I go to bed at 10:30pm. I can't go during the day right now because its too hot and if I went in the morning it would have to be completely before sunrise which would give me no where near 8 hours of sleep. I'd have to wake up about 5, 4:30 if I wanted to eat first, and I have a lot of sleeping problems. I don't usually get to sleep for 1-2 hours after I go to bed. I don't get off work 2+ days a week until 9 pm the other 3 days I go to work between 9-10 am. I would love to be able to do it, but its too hot for him right now.

Also what is your ideas on keeping him from sock stealing. He does it all the time, he'll even take them out of my hubby's scrub laundry basket. He's done it forever, he wants us to chase him. I don't know how to get them from them without following him.

He also shreds papers, like my check I had not cashed yet, luckily it was only $5.00. We put papers in places he cannot get to them, but I think its a team effort on my papers, cats knock it onto floor, he tears it up. I've lost some important information and this check to his shredding. He has a nylabone and lots of other toys. We play with him, I do in the morning and evening and my husband in the afternoon/early evening.

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