I signed up for this website for the same reason everyone did: I love my corgi. Loki is 1 1/2 years old and he is a typical, red, pembroke. Very high energy, very smart, and very cute. However, he has been seriously aggressive since the day we got him. I have done my research on the types of aggression and it's hard to know exactly what types he has, but he certainly has dominance aggression.
I am relating my story in the hopes that someone has had a similar situation (misery loves company), or even better, that someone has overcome a similar situation and can give my fiancé and me hope that Loki can be the loving companion we always wanted.
Loki has graduated with flying colors from obedience class. He gets hours of exercise a day ranging from long walks, to long play sessions, to serious mental training exercises. Yet, he still will seemingly snap and bite either myself or my fiancé for what appears to be no reason.
For instance, about an hour ago, my fiancé and I were sitting on the couch making wedding plans. Loki wanted to get on the couch and he came to me first. I told him no, and he listened like he does and just laid at my feet. After a few minutes, he went to my fiancé, who ignored him. Then without warning he lunged at her and latched on to her arm. He was blind with rage. No command in the world would make him stop, so I pulled him off her by the scruff of his neck and kept him scruffed until he calmed down. I had to hold him for an hour before he would stop baring his teeth and growling. I am not an advocate of physical punishment or correction towards animals. I feel cruel having to scruff him even when he is attacking my fiancé. Finally, we both got tired enough that I got him to go into his kennel (a place he enjoys and in which he feels safe). Yet, he was still trying to bite me while I guided him into his kennel.
This is not the first and not the worst instance of violence Loki has instigated. And I use the word instigated because these are moments in which the worst we might be doing to him is ignoring him while we have a conversation. I don't try to blame animals and I fully believe that the owner is responsible for bad behavior. But I just don't understand!
Is this typical of the breed? Is this a what dogs do? I had a dog when I was younger and she was sweet and never so much as growled let alone bit anyone. However, Loki is the first dog I have raised from a puppy as an adult and I am seriously worried that I may have to find him a new home - which would break my heart and I would probably never get another dog.
We have seen behavoralist, we have had vets look at him and had blood work done, we have contacted the breeder, we have made it a point to constantly learn training techniques and adjust our own shortcomings as owners, but it never seems to be able to break his aggression. I don't want a perfect dog, I just want one that won't bite me.
So that's the basics of my corgi horror story. I love Loki, but this entire last year and a half has been like nothing I could have imagined when I picked him up from the breeder with everyone all smiles. Don't get me wrong, there have been some amazing, wonderful moments, but there has also been a lot of blood (all mine and my fiancé's).
Anyone else have corgi horror stories? Anyone have corgi success stories that grew from a dog with serious aggression? Any input will be gladly accepted (even if it's to tell me that I am a terrible dog owner).
I would get a professional opinion and help. If you plan to keep him, google Nothing in Life is Free. This is not acceptable and not typical of the breed. So sorry!
So sorry for what you are going through...I have a female that will on occasion get after another dog but never had any dog go after people. I would again notify the breeder.
One thing you said was that after removing him from your fiancé... I agree you had NO choice but to grab him by the scruff of his neck BUT if you" held him" for an hour...personally I would think that would be giving him the wrong message. He should have immediately been placed in his kennel for such behavior and totally ignored! Then I would have taken him out of there on a leash for you to have a bit more control.
What did the behaviorist say?
I am so sorry you are dealing with this. This is a serious problem and someone can get badly hurt. The breeder should have probably offered to take back the dog. What did the breeder say? What has the behaviorist said?
It's difficult enough to diagnose aggression issues in person, and really only trained and experienced behaviorists are qualified. It's almost impossible to say what's going on over the internet. My gut reaction to the story you described above is that Loki is a dog with very low tolerance for frustration. He can't get his way, he gets frustrated and uses his teeth. I don't know if that is "dominance" necessarily; it could be, but does not have to be.
This is a dog for an experienced owner who can properly control the household to minimize risk while slowly working on building his tolerance for things not going his way. If you plan on having children, I would probably consider rehoming him. However, rescues won't deal with dogs who bite people and they are usually euthanized. The ideal situation would be a very experienced owner with lots of time and no kids or anything in the house.
I am so, so sorry. If you are willing to work with him and there won't be small kids around, you can have a behaviorist come into the home to evaluate him on his own turf. My guess is that when he is out and about and fully engaged in what he's doing, he's probably sweet and well-behaved since things are all going his way, so a trainer in a class won't get a good handle on his behavior. You mention that if he does not work out you would be heart-broken (understandable) and never get another dog. This type of behavior though is not typical of Corgis or most dogs.
Please keep us posted.
First of all, I really appreciate all the help and support.
To answer the main two questions: 1) the breeder didn't take us seriously and basically said that we were first time corgi owners and unprepared to deal with the high energy of the breed. She also told us to do what one of you suggested, which is to put him in his kennel and ignore him after instances like this. It's a little embarrassing to think of how often this has happened. We certainly have done that with him. We even have a special command ("load up") to send him to his kennel, which works when we can get his energy level down enough to stop lunging. My reasoning behinds holding him was that he is so comfortable in his kennel that I fear it is a reward for him. Also, I was trying to wait for his energy to go down, and I wanted to have him essentially submit, but he never stopped snapping at me so I held him until he was calm enough to guide him into the kennel instead of physically throwing him in. The breeder never suggested the possibility of mental illness, nor did she ever offer to take him back
2) We worked with an awesome behaviorist, Emily Fraser-Thompson. She gave us so much hope with him and gave us many tools to work with to keep his violent behavior in check. Because of her we take him on multiple, extra long walks and we exhaust him mentally everyday. She helped us recognize the triggers to his outbursts. But when we have a situation like last night where the trigger is almost imperceptible (we decided he lunged because he thinks he owns the couch even though he is never allowed on the couch when we are sitting on it) it's difficult to prevent these types of outbursts. Essentially, Emily diagnosed the dominance aggression as his main issue, though I also see instances of displaced aggression (he tries to lunge at other dogs on walks and when I don't let him he attacks my feet), and territorial aggression (he used to guard his bed before we got rid of it).
Anyway, once again, I really appreciate the insight everyone has provided. I can honestly say I have not seen such a useful, helpful forum as this on the internet. It just helps to know that Loki's issues are not breed typical. For now, we are going to keep working with him and we are taking him to the vet to get blood work done to see if he might have a thyroid issue or something of that nature (something the behaviorist suggested).
Good idea about taking him to the vet. Also discuss with them all of this, I don't know what they can do to help but may have some ideas! Keep us updated please!
I may be completely wrong, but it seems like his kennel is his "happy place". If you put him in his kennel when he is unhappy, you are helping him calm down. With time he will learn to take himself to his kennel instead of lashing out. So, instead of thinking of it as a punishment, think of it as his special safe place.
On another note; my corgi does not like to be held. If she is upset, holding her does not help. Perhaps Loki does not want to be held when he is upset, and that's why it took so long to calm down. Snickers will also displace her anger. If she is mad at me for handling her (nail clipping or something) she will lash out at our other dog, Jack, when I let her go. I don't know if Loki is doing something similar, but it is something dogs will do.
Good luck, I hope you can help him work through his issues. And best wishes on your wedding!
Matt, you are indeed dealing with serious aggression (no need for the question mark). It is hard, if not impossible, to assess from a distance how, where and why Loki has gotten to this point but, in a sense, it is now irrelevant because his behavior has been ongoing, extreme and escalating in spite of your taking him to obedience classes, seeing and following the advice of a behaviorist and having him checked by the Vet.
The response from the breeder and her downplaying of a most serious issue tells me that bad temperament is something that is not new to her. Temperament has genetic roots, just as much as his body shape and breed characteristics and my guess is that this is genetic in origin. It may not be from the sire or dam (though chances are it is) but I would bet my bottom dollar that it is in his lines. I have seen too many breeders downplay and make excuses for bad temperament in their lines because either that is what they had and therefore bred, or that is what they were winning with and therefore bred. Then pups rte sold as pets to the unsuspecting public. It is wrong, unfair to the people who buy the dog and invest time, love and money in it, and above all unfair to the animals.
So what is the solution? I would tell the breeder I am returning the dog. Don't expect money back, just bring back the dog, if she will take it. Tell her she needs to evaluate him herself and then she may be able to place him in a more appropriate home. Keep it as sweet as you can, just say you cannot handle the dog. Hopefully she will take him. You are not to blame and have walked the extra mile with him, it's time to move on.....
It almost sounds like he does not respect or trust you and your fiancee. From your descriptions, both of you sound like responsible, loving owners and are probably not doing anything wrong. I am not an expert at all, but maybe you could try practicing some trusting games. Is he food aggressive? You could try to build trust by being by his side as much as you can as well as make sure any rewards come directly from you or your fiancee; this way he will associate you two as only good things and he has no reason to be threatened by either of you. To me he sounds like a very insecure, dominant dog, in which he is only trying to take over the house because he does not feel supported in the house. Perhaps he didn't adjust correctly when you took him away from the breeder. Aside from building trust and setting up firm boundaries, seeking a real professional would be good too. As other people have said, he could have a mental illness. I can imagine this is not the dog you always wanted but I hope that you are able to figure this all out! Good luck.
Let's not confuse the issue! A dog that lunges and attaches himself to the arm of a human he knows, who is simply sitting on a couch ignoring him, is NOT an insecure dog! As for being mentally ill, only a Vet could address this (and he's been checked). If this behavior had only started recently, in adulthood, it could be possible that he had a medical issue that had developed ( such as a brain tumor ). The fact that this type of behavior has been going on since the age of 10 wks and escalating makes it unlikely that it is a medical issue. Dominant aggressive dogs, who display these traits from a young age, are born that way and come from other dogs like that in their background. I have known a few (thankfully few...) and yes, you can design your whole life around their bad temperament and live in fear of what they may do next, blaming yourself every time something goes wrong, or you can let them go. This type of dog is also a walking law suit, if he decides to go for someone else ( say a friend you had over, or a child who ran up to him, or anything he thought was inappropriate)>
I would not recommend your re-homing him, which would simply put someone else in danger somewhere down the line. Be careful with any kind of discipline, which puts you at risk of serious injury. For instance, if he got loose from your holding him by the scruff, he would no doubt attack you. Once in that mode, all else for him is tuned out. No humane or rescue group would place this dog in anyone's home, not only because of the danger he presents, but also because they could be held legally accountable.
If you cannot return him, consider having the Vet put him down. I would tell the breeder these are my two options. My heart goes out to you, your fiancee and also to Loki who never should have been bred for, or sold into, a pet home.
I do have to agree with Anna as much as I would like you to have" hope" you are in a bad place. I would never return him to this breeder though as personally I would rather NOT see him suffer and if he went back to his breeder I would be afraid of what could happen to him. I would rather see him put down and be at peace than worry what happened to him.
I was in this position with a dog aggressive Corgi rescue and finally after months of trying I did have him euthanized because I was afraid he would kill any of my other dogs and I couldn't take the chance.
I am truly sorry for what you are going through.
I also feel the way you do Jane and personally would cry my eyes out and have the Vet put him to sleep. That would not cause pain to the dog, whereas much suffering could come to him in the wrong hands. I know how hard it is to put to sleep a dog who is young and healthy in body, but one that cannot be lived with because of his temperament. Some people simply cannot bring themselves to do it. Returning him to the breeder would be the only other alternative to euthanasia. That assumes the breeder cares and is willing to take the dog.
BTW the last thing i would do is take another pup from this breeder, should she ever offer.
I hope stories like this can help all breeders put temperament at the top of their list of priorities when planning for a litter and not make excuses and compromises that others will have to pay dearly for.