Corgis are usually happy bright rays of sunshine, but Dante has me so frustrated. I've been sitting here with my head in my hands trying to decide what is best at this point. He got attacked two separate times by stray dogs in the neighborhood (his outside time has been strickly monitored since then), and ever since, he's developed severe aggression. We made huge progress with him (lots of training, therapy, and positive socialization), but lately he's regressed so much that it's almost like he's a wild animal. I'm covered in huge scratches right now because I had to forcibly pull him off of one of my other pups :( I can't rehome him, because in this area it would be a bait dog death sentence! And knowing aggressive he is, I wouldn't be able to send him off with someone with the chance that he could hurt them. I love this dog to bits, but I am seriously bleeding right now because I had to get into the middle of a dog fight. He almost got one of my kids several times in this altercation so now I am genuinely scared.

3/11/14 Update:

After having an enlightening conversation with a rescue lady and a lot of talking, rationalizing, and crying, we decided that letting him rest would be the best and safest option. It was pointed out that the longer we spend trying options with only a slim possibility of helping, is just that much more time that we risk him seriously injuring someone or one of the other dogs. And as many times as the houdini sneaks out of the house we are endangering the kids in the neighborhood too :( So my husband took him to go to sleep today. I wish I could say I was strong enough to be there at the end, but I couldn't bear to be there and stayed home with the kids.

I appreciate the kind words and suggestions from everyone. I wish we could have found the perfect solution for him, but sometimes being sick isn't a physical illness that can be cured or fixed. He has obviously been mentally unwell for some time now, but he's finally getting to sleep peacefully without bother from whatever "demons" that have been haunting him.

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I am truly sorry you are going through this.  It may or may not be fear aggression.  The two fights he had may just have triggered his natural instinct to fight..... Fear aggression should not be an issue in your own home, with your other dogs, unless your other household dogs are aggressive and threatening towards him, which I don't get the impression is the case.  He may just have become a bully.

Years ago I had an Alaskan Malamute female who would pick fights with my other dog, a German Shepherd who had raised her.  I was always able to stop it immediately with my voice, as she was well trained.  Most of the time there was no issue.  One day she attacked the Shepherd when we were not home.... we managed to save the Shepherd and decided to put the Malamute to sleep.  Like you I had young children and could not risk their getting in the middle of a fight.  I loved the dog very much and I would not have put her in another home for the very reasons you also state.

Only you can judge what is appropriate for you, your dog, your other household dogs and your family.  Humanely putting the dog to sleep will hurt you way more than the dog.  He is not a bad dog, but he is the result of his breeding and may just not be suited to ever be a family dog.... You have already made the effort to work with a trainer. 

If you decide to keep him and continue working with him, I would suggest a well fitted wire basket type muzzle and keep it on ALL the time, except when crated.  Be safe.  I'm including a heartfelt hug.

Thank you for being so understanding! The other 3 have absolutely no aggression towards him whatsoever!

Anna, You are absolutely right. As sad as it is...we had a rescue that would go after ANY other dog. We could not adopt him out due to this reason we did have him put to sleep. I truly believe he would have killed any of my corgis or my larger dogs...given the opportunity:( He was just nasty and so sad but we did what was right for the dog. heart goes out to you...

@ Jane. Glad you did the right thing .  I did Rescue for many years and always called a spade a spade.  Sadly I knew several people in Rescue who subscribed to the idea all dogs could be placed, which is not the case.  These people are warm hearted and well meaning, but end up giving Rescue a bad name and people are then afraid to adopt after hearing horror stories of one kind or another.  Melissa's experience with Kirby  (although not about aggression) is an example of a dog who should never have been adopted out.

Agreed.  I see so many "rescues" placing barely rehabbed drug- and fighting-bred dogs, or street dogs from Puerto Rico, in homes with novice owners who think a little love and some trick training is enough to overcome difficult genetics and the worst possible start in life.

And some of these dogs are fine, because genetics is a funny thing and even bad breeding will produce some bomb-proof dogs.   But too many of these dogs end up, at worst, seriously hurting a person or killing someone else's beloved pet, and at best living a life of fear, stress, and confinement as their hapless owners try their best to struggle through.

We saw a young girl walking with an older man (her father, maybe?) and a rather large pit-mix female a few months back.  We came out of our own house with our dogs and immediately the pit-mix froze and stared and hackles went up.

To the handler's credit, she promptly spun around and went back the way she had come.

But what on earth is a dog with such terribly high prey drive doing out and about near a very busy park without even a muzzle?

A broken leash, a slipped collar, or a trip by the owner and someone's dog is dead.  

Management works great, until the day it doesn't.   A dog with a short fuse that is inclined to fight if provoked can be managed by the right people.  A dog who is biding its time, waiting every day for its chance to kill another dog on sight is another story.

@Anna, I had to...I could not do this to people or the dog...even if people's just to scary. I sat with Otis when they put him to sleep and as sad as it was...I knew he was not suffering any longer!

Have you ever had a trainer come to your home? I would suggest a trainer/behaviorist visit your house so they can observe the situation and possibly find what the triggers are that are causing him to be so aggressive. I agree that you should not rehome him due to the possibility that he may hurt another dog or human. Keep a drag line on him any time he is loose in the house so you can split up a fight without getting hurt, I would recommend a baby gate to keep the dogs separate for now, the only thing with separation is that you need to let each dog spend time in the main living area equally. Even though he is the problem, only locking him away will likely just make it worse. Rotate who gets "family time". I also agree with getting him a basket muzzle if you are unable to separate the dogs with a gate. We use them all the time at my rescue because we have primarily racing greyhounds, they work great, are comfortable for the dog, and still allow them to drink and pant but keep the other dogs safe. You will have to slowly introduce him to the muzzle and make it a positive thing which may take time. If a trainer or behaviorist can't help you then possibly the safest thing for your family (and your other pets) is humane euthanasia. I have unfortunately seen the result of an aggressive corgi attacking a housemate, the victim had to be euthanized as a result of his injuries. Just because corgis are small doesn't mean they can't do serious damage. I hope everything works out. 

he has seen a trainer and a therapist. We tried keeping a lead on him but it's gotten to where he can't so much as glance at another one of our dogs without going straight for them. The ONLY thing that keeps him off of them is by staying in his crate or outside.

Wow! He's attacking his packmates in your own home? That sounds pretty extreme. I also have nothing very constructive to add, other than to agree with Melissa and Franklin's suggestions that you try a trainer or dog behavioralist -- one with some very fine positive references -- who will come to your home, and that you keep this dog separated from other animals in the house. If you have children, I would not keep an animal that fights in the same home with them. Dog bites can be very serious injuries, even when inflicted by a fairly small dog...which, when you come down to it, a corgi is not.

My late, great German shepherd was dog-aggressive, a trait that also was triggered by a couple of attacks by a neighbor's dog that would jump OVER their fence and come after us as we walked past the house. Nothing ever changed this trait, although I will say that I did not hire a trainer to help with it -- I just made it a point to keep her away from other dogs.

Eventually I did get a greyhound -- male (Gershep was female) -- and managed to socialize them by muzzling both animals and having them meet on neutral ground, out on the sidewalk in front of the house. She was very mellow toward the grey, but a greyhound itself is a very mellow animal, and this one was significantly larger than the shepherd.

That notwithstanding, the best advice I can suggest is to separate this dog from other animals and keep him separate from them. If you can't do that because of other pets you'd like to keep in the house, then rehome the little guy through a dedicated corgi rescue (the rescue lady in our area knows quite a bit about corgi character, for example, and she's very careful about who gets her dogs) or through your veterinarian. Specify that he's to go to a one-dog home.

After seeing his behavior escalate and knowing how many options we have tried, I truly believe there is no reaquainting him with his pack mates. The moment he comes out of his crate he immediately switches into attack mode on anything 4 legged in the house :( I'm trying really hard to find him a new home that he can be 100% secure in, but it is starting to seem hopeless :(

Rachael, you can't live in an armed camp.... You also cannot trust that children will not sometimes do the wrong thing and there you go, as you have described in one of your replies.  It's not good for the children either and indeed it may trigger aggression in one or more of your other dogs.  The more I read, the more I know his aggression has nothing to do with fear.  Where did you get the dog?  Would returning him to the breeder be an option?  I think you have more than done your part, including looking for answers here.  The old saying " You are not absolutely responsible for everything - that's my job! God "  comes to mind. 

I have railed before against breeders who produce puppies without any though for temperament, which is as genetically driven as looks.  They sell dogs into pet homes, or for the pet market, that cannot be lived with because of temperament problems, with much grief to the unsuspecting buyer, as all pups look cute and these traits only surface in time.... Very sad for the dogs too.

Anna, you just articulated what I didn't feel brave enough to say.

If you do return this dog to the breeder, Rachel, or have to put it to sleep, please don't get another one from the same breeder. In dogs, genetic make-up has a lot to do with temperament.

Sorry to bring up the Ger-sheps again, this being a corgi forum, but having lived with German shepherds for about 30 years, that's where my experience lies.

The third Ger-shep pup that came to live with me, lo these many years ago, was the single most beautiful dog I've ever seen, and for the first three years of her life, she was a lovely, wonderful companion and pet. Three years on, we had a young son, about four or five years old, getting to the age where little boys love to rough-house with each other. Brandy became increasingly protective, to the point that if she saw the neighbor boys play-fighting through the car windows, she would go bat-sh!t trying to get out of the vehicle. I became aware that we needed to be careful that the boys at our house didn't play too rough around this dog.

One day my mother-in-law was visiting. She did absolutely nothing in any way aggressive or annoying, as far as I could tell, except possibly she might have waved her arms around to make a point (she was very opinionated and would try in no uncertain terms to be sure you were brought around to her way of thinking...but otherwise harmless). She was sitting down in a living-room chair. There were no kids around. It was quiet.

Brandy was resting on the floor beside me; I was seated across from MIL, on another easy chair. It was fortunate that the dog was right beside me, because suddenly, with no warning whatsoever and without even getting to her feet, she tried to take a flying lunge at MIL. Sensing the dog's motion, I reached down, grabbed her collar, and pushed her back to the floor; the dog subsided.

Luckily, MIL was pretty obtuse; she apparently didn't realize what had almost happened. My husband would not have been pleased had he realized that my dog had come within a gnat's eyebrow of eviscerating his mother.

A few weeks later, as I was chasing my son around the house, Brandy actually did go airborne. Again with no barking, no growling, and no noticeable warning, she charged me while my back was turned. Again luck was with us: my husband was standing there, and he managed to grab the dog and literally pulled her out of the air. He was unnerved and said he was sure the dog was trying to attack me. I shrugged it off.

Then, not long after that, I took the dog to the vet for her routine shots. She was just fine until the guy turned to walk from the examining room to the clinic to get the hypos. The instant he turned his back, she went right straight after him.

At that point, the vet said, "You need to put that dog down. She's going to hurt someone." Of course, I equivocated, tried to make an excuse for the animal. He then explained that because of bad breeding, some dogs develop what can best be compared with a mental illness in the human -- he compared it roughly with schizophrenia, although he said it's not an across-the-board equivalent. He said the dog was extremely dangerous because it would attack unpredictably and with no warning, as we had seen Brandy do now three times. This commonly happens at about the age of three, he continued, and the dog can not be trained away from the behavior because the dog is apparently not even aware that it's doing it. He said you can't call the dog off because once it kicks into attack mode, it doesn't hear you.

I asked how that was possible, since this was now the third shepherd dog we'd had and we were getting pretty experienced at dealing with large, high-drive dogs. I was certain she had never been mistreated or threatened, nor had she ever had schutzhund training, and on earth would she develop that kind of aggression? He said it was genetic. It was, he claimed, the result of the overpopularity of German shepherds and ill-advised breeding practices intended to develop them into "protection" dogs. And, he added, one should never buy or adopt an American-bred German shepherd.

We did, ultimately, put Brandy down -- I asked if we couldn't give her to someone on a ranch or farm where she could be trained as a working dog (thinking: maybe she'd be fine if they could run some energy off her?). He said, "That will just mean someone on a farm will get hurt."

And that's why in my last comment I suggested you please not leave the dog around children. Ask a vet who's experienced with herding and other working dogs about this behavior before proceeding.


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