Posting this in here too cause I guess it's related to health in case no one reads the behavior column. I really need help or suggestions BAD.
Charlie has been the sweetest dog until about 6 months of age. He started become food aggressive towards bones. We tried everything we could think of but nothing seemed to work and then the trainer we were working with for obedience training at his school said just give him the bone and don't take it away...
Well... now he's been neutered and since the second day he started to become extremely aggressive. I understand that dogs can be aggressive for a few days after surgery due to not feeling well but Charlie never really... stopped. It's been 3 weeks now since he was fixed and his aggression is escalating. He growls at everyone. He starts to get stiff, his eyes go still and dilate, and he starts to give a low rumble. If you try to get near, he bares his teeth and growls louder. He first only did this when bones were around him but now he does it to anyone. He mostly grows when it's just me and him and someone tries to come near me like my parents... but now he's turning on me. I have no idea what to do and my patience is wearing thin because I have family coming in town next week for Thanksgiving. He loves people and he's great out in public... it's when he gets home the issues start to appear. I have 5 year old twins that are going to be running around the house and I don't want him to go off on them. Charlie is only 7 months old and I know I need to nip this in the butt. There is no way I'm getting rid of my kid either and putting his issues on someone else... he's my responsibility. I can't quite afford a behaviorist yet either being a poor college student. I have been trying to wear him down too through a lot of exercise and I mean... 2+ hours at the dog park... maybe another hour walk later.... and some training. I have him mentally tired but he still puts up a fight. I stood over him and growled back at him last night (I know I sound ridiculous) and he backed down but only during the time we were having our disagreement. My vet told me to start making him feel like he's the lowest of the low so I've been making my extremely shy and extremely submissive quiet sheltie go outside first before he can... feeding her first and making him watch before he can eat... making him sit and wait until I cross the threshold before he can... but he's still extremely angry. I want to cry at this point because he really is a good dog, I just don't know what to do next.
Have you taken the dog back to the vet? It sounds like something's wrong there. He may be in pain. Possibly an infection from the surgery? Some other internal issue?
Try not giving the dog bones. They're not safe for him anyway. And certainly if he's going to be aggressive over them, they're not safe for you, either.
Holy u-know-what! Do NOT growl at your dog unless you'd like to have your throat removed. Use human language: it's ok to pitch your voice low (much better than yelling, which comes instinctively to some of us), but because none of us understands dog language fully, do not risk growling at an aggressive dog. Your dog should understand the word "NO" by now: use it.
Sorry if I sound extreme...before the corgis came into my life, I was a German shepherd aficionado; even though I loved and respected my dogs, I did recognize that some situations were dangerous, and I was not into risking my life. Corgis are smaller, but ANY dog can inflict serious wounds by biting.
When the dog evinces aggression, if you can do so safely, gently grasp the dog by the ruff around each side of the neck. Do not be violent in any way, but hold on. Look into the dog's eyes (be careful and be prepared: this is a challenge in Dog Language) and say, firmly and quietly, NO! Be extremely careful without revealing whatever degree of fear or uncertainty you feel: you can be bitten, and you won't like it.
This is somewhat risky and you should not try it unless you believe you can remain in control. What you believe, BTW, may not be reality. But do NOT let a dog turn on you. And never turn your back on a dog that appears to be doing so. Please, do not allow small children around an animal that is exhibiting aggression, rational or irrational. Absolutely do not EVER leave the child or children in the same room or yard with this dog unsupervised.
Do you have a crate? Crate or pen the dog (get an X-pen) every single minute when you can't be watching him. Try keeping him on a leash all the time he's in the house. And really: don't let the kids outside or in a room with this dog unless you are there, preferably with the dog leashed.
I once had a GerShep that first attempted to take out after my mother-in-law. This female dog happened to be sitting on the floor next to me before she tried to launch herself airborne, and I happened to notice and grab her by the collar and sit her back down. MiL, not being the brightest rhinestone on the cowboy shirt, didn't notice.
Then she tried to kill me. I was chasing my son (about three years old at the time) around the house. My back was turned to the dog. The dog indeed did launch herself airborne this time. Fortunately my husband was in the room and he grabbed her by the collar and sat her back down. This happened so fast I didn't witness it. He said, "The dog tried to attack you." Because I didn't see it, I shrugged it off.
Then I took her to the vet for her routine vaccinations. All went well until he said, "The dog looks great. I'll be right back." He turned around to walk out of the exam room to get the syringes, and the minute he turned his back, the dog lunged at him. Again, I managed to grab her and pull her out of the air, into which she had launched herself.
He said the dog was unacceptably dangerous: that sooner or later she would harm someone. He said some dogs, especially in overbred breeds like the German shepherd, become effectively psychotic at a certain age. The dog is unaware of what it's doing and cannot be called off by a voice command. He recommended putting the dog down. I said, how's about I find a home for the dog (who was exceptionally beautiful, otherwise charming, and much loved) on a ranch, where she'll be a working dog? He said that will just guarantee that someone on a ranch will get hurt. Ultimately we had to put the dog down.
I don't know about these smaller dogs. But since you have children, please be careful. A corgi is big enough to inflict some serious injuries. Find another vet and ask for a consultation. Otherwise: ????
I don't have children, they're my cousin's kids and I have a lot of family coming staying here with me and my parents Thanksgiving. He's the sweetest dog in the world. He starts growling at me when I look him in the eye too long which makes me think he's trying to say he's the boss. He's extremely bossy. I have an extremely sweet and submissive shy sheltie who just wants to sleep all day and is afraid of everyone. We are just letting her live out the rest of her years in our home because we can't think of giving her up to be put in a kill shelter or someone abusing her. We think she was abused. She's about to be 11, whats another couple of years? She's a sweet and great dog. Anyways, he takes advantage of her all the time. She doesn't mind. She's only nipped him once and she's bared her teeth at him but he doesn't notice.. he kind of just tramples all over her. He is definitely the Alpha in the house. I tried to growl at him and get close and look down on him and believe it or not after us growling back and forth he started to avoid eye contact and to look down!!! That's why I tried it twice but then looked up some stuff and read to not do what I exactly had just done sooooo not doing it again. I'm looking for a behaviorist to work with him and will be contacting people on rates soon. I don't know what we're doing wrong because we've tried everything.. of course as positive as we can. He can definitely sense my frustration which is why I think he's pushing it out further. I'm still getting kisses. He's extremely protective of me and guards my room like crazy! He really is a sweet boy. I'm sure he will be excited for everyone being over. Whenever we have guests his butt goes nuts and he's everyone's best friend and wants everyone's attention. They say corgi's are meant to be the center of attention and I'm not going to exclude him. I will definitely set rules though to the kids telling them to not run up to him but let him come to them... he LOVES kids.. especially toddlers. They're his height and that means he can sit on his bum and give kisses forever if they let him. Most think it's icky.
On another note, I took him to the vet Thursday to get a bump on the outside of his mouth on his lip checked that I noticed popped up a week and a half ago and the vet said it's a bacterial infection and a cyst and it keeps growing. It started looking like a baby pimple and now it's huge. We are trying antibiotics hoping it will help and if nothing changes... we have to get a biopsy.. which I'm terrified. We are thinking that could be why he's acting so aggressive... but he can play at the dog park for hours and he's fine and he's using his mouth the whole time!!! So I'm not sure. We are giving him a few weeks because of all the hormone changes and him now on new meds and it gives me time to save up a little money and to finish exams in school to spend a good month with him and practice what we learn. I worked with a rescue and have seen so many sad things and I can't just give up on him. He's just going through a rough patch like we all do but we will overcome it some how!! I will get another job if I have to. Animals are my life... my dog is my other half. Charlie is my baby. I just hope he knows that...
OH! I also left a message about 4 hours ago at my vets office asking for anxiety medicine to see if that helps to see if it will calm him and make him not anxious about people walking down the hall getting closer to me. I don't want this to become a learned behavior... or it might just be that.
An infection (and possibly a reaction to meds?) may be the explanation.
If Charlie is not harming the Sheltie -- that is, he doesn't seriously bite her and as you say, "she doesn't mind" -- the best thing may be not to interfere. Dogs establish their pecking order in ways that can look alarming to humans but that are not so alarming to the dog mind. She may come out from under the bed in time.
Definitely talk with a behaviorist trainer. You have your finger on the right idea in suspecting that the key is to figure out how you should behave vis-a-vis the two dogs. With Cassie and Ruby, I found that keeping Ruby on a leash for ten days or two weeks worked wonders. However, Ruby was never aggressive toward me.
The behaviorist may be able to come up with ways to explain to small children how to act around dogs. In my experience, little kids who are delighted with dogs but don't know anything about them yet act in ways that are interpreted as aggressive by the dog. Waving their arms in the air, or clumsily trying to pat the dog's head with gross up-and-down movements or jerking their hands around near the dog's face are not gestures that are taken kindly in Dogistan. A five-year-old should be old enough to understand how to behave, though you may have to explicitly teach them.
I would have him checked ASAP by the vet. If his eyes are dilated and this all started after his neuter...something is NOT right physically with him....poor guy....
Once you are sure it isn't based on a physical reason I think you may be able to turn things around. Your comment about not wanting it to become "learned behavior" is very important, I think. It is so important to reward the behaviors you want and to be sure you don't accidently reward behaviors you don't want. It is also very important, I think, for dogs to have respect for people and to know they can expect our respect in return. I agree with your vet, in theory, that the other dog should eat and go out first probably, but that is equally important, probably more important, for him to learn not to go outside ahead of humans, especially you. Charlie can be made to sit and wait before you feed him and for toys and treats.
If he acts aggressive you can remove the bowl or toy and make him sit before you return it. It is really important that you don't give in and let him have what he wants until you are ready because it will give him a random reward that just teaches him to be even more aggressive to get what he wants. In other words, you need to shut the door and turn around, refusing to go out, EVERY time he tries to go through the outside door ahead of you. You can also play a game of "Leave it/Take it" that may help (if you are sure he isn't going to hurt you). You can offer him a small reward with one hand then offer him something even more valuable, a toy or treat he really likes for example, with the other hand Then insist he gives up the smaller treat first, then he gets the bigger reward.
If you don't have a crate is there some way to keep him locked up in another room while you have guests? I know he may be a great dog, but the chaos of several guests, including children is far too risky for you and for Charlie as well. Nothing is worth risking so much, even if he loves children. The way children play with dogs can make the most gentle dog fear aggressive. They may try to hug him, for example and he may nip or worse. I would honestly consider boarding him for a day if you can't keep him isolated while you get to the bottom of what's wrong. I hope you both feel better soon!
where was he neutered????? He still needs to be seen....
Oh boy am I going to catch it for saying this. I've heard it all before...
If you are a strong enough person (mentally, not physically)..
You had the right idea when you growled back at him. The only way to get dogs to understand is to speak to them in their language. The way to stop this is to win the fight. When he growls at you or snaps at you, pin him down. Grab him by the scruff and pin him down. All while sharply saying "No"...like you mean it. You may get bit, (I doubt it) but you have to win.
It does not hurt them. It hurts their feelings and lets them know you are the boss, that what you say goes. In all my years of owning dogs, and rescuing strays, being a foster- I've only rarely had to do this. Once was with my german shepherd/husky mix- she bit me when I was trying to get in to bed one night. I bit her back. She never questioned me again. Sometimes my female corgi gets a little too big for her britches, and I have to stop her before she gets what's coming to her by the other dogs. Dog language is very cut and dry. There are rules and certain things that are allowed, and many that aren't. You are the only one allowed to insist on behavior of the others...they must not tell you what is allowed. You want the bone? You get it without being challenged. The language isn't negotiable...it must be consistent. Right now he is telling you that he is the boss...which is not allowed in my house.
I can do whatever I want to my dogs, whenever I want. They are extremely well mannered. Many will say that aggression breeds aggression. This is simply not true- dogs live in the moment, not the past nor the future. None of the dogs I've dealt with have ever challenged me. But I also am not afraid of them...this is the key. If you are even the least bit afraid of them, then this is NOT going to work for you.
But you should of course rule out anything from the vet first.
I agree totally that you need to be in charge. Not sure you need to get physical to do it though. You are in control simply because he needs you, literally to survive. He cannot eat, sleep, play, get petted, go out side or come inside without your permission. You just need to remind him of that and he will see you as the boss. I wouldn't give him anything without his earning it by showing respect to you. If he has to sit before he gets his bowl, and you ignore any other behavior, such as barking, growling or whining, he will eventually learn to sit first. If he gets aggressive when you push his butt to prompt him to sit I would walk away with the dish until he sits on his own, then praise the sitting and give him the bowl.
You can increase the demand, eventually, to "sit and wait," (which can be used for other things he wants, such as getting petted, going outside). In time you can get to a point where you can gently touch him on is back while he is eating. Then you can add treats to his bowl while he is eating, and eventually remove the bowl and replace it without his reacting. That should only be done when you are comfortable that he she's you as the boss though. I can take food out of Sully's mouth and touch her anywhere, even when she is eating, but that is due in part to her learning to trust me over time. Positive training approaches are suggested because they work best, but it does require owners to be very consistent about the way they respond to behaviors. Resource guarding is natural for animals in the wild, but domesticated dogs can be taught to respect reasonable human boundaries, especially if we respect their doggy needs and instincts when we show them the "house rules." Good luck!
Google Nothing in Life is Free and follow it carefully. Also, try leashing him and attaching the leash to you so he can follow you around during the day while your home. When you sit he sits, when you get the laundry he comes etc. Also see if you can afford a positive training class. He really needs kind leadership right now. However, make use his health problems are attended to. He is at a pivotal age and needs direction. Reward good behavior, I don't think you can give too many treats at this age for behaviors you want.
SO well said Bev, and in so many less words! I still walk around with treats in my pocket to reward desired behaviors. Chrystal, I was also able to recruit an animal behavior student from the small local college. Since you are a college student maybe there is such a class at your school you could investigate. I contacted the professor and she recommended a student. You may be able to barter rides, meals or something for the training sessions. Once you see how it works you can work on your own.