Hello all.

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).

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There is a book you might like to read, about a dog with psychological problems and everything the owner tried to do to help him before finally having to put him to sleep.  I cried when I read it.

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Dog-Story-Orson-Changed/dp/0812971493

Wow, did you read the reviews of the book? A lot of people are blaming the author. 

 

not the reviews, just the book, but how could they blame him, he sold his house and moved to a farm and bought sheep just so that Orson would have "work" to do to ease his troubled mind.  Not to mention all the specialists he paid to examine and treat Orson, from holistic to veterinary specialists and acupuncture, to name a few, and his other dogs were not deranged. 

Basically, the reviews are saying that he set the dog up for failure.  Just click on the link you provided and scroll down to see the reviews - they'll explain it much better. 

OK, I read the reviews.  Maybe if I were to read the book again I'd feel as the reviewers did that the author didn't do enough to rehabilitate his dog, but it wasn't my first impression upon reading the book.  I have had to put a dog to sleep due to illness, and it is not a decision that is made lightly.

Have you considered the posiblity that your Corgi has the MDR1 gene (mutation)?  In these dogs, mostly hearding dogs, they can have a negative reaction to some heartgard medications.  Check our these websites.  There is a not to costly test you have done to see.  http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/cghg/mdr1.php  http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-VCPL/test.aspx

 

My breeder advised me not to give my Corgi Hartgard or any medication containing Ivermectin, in fact, she said she would void my "health guarantee" if I chose to use it.  These meds only affect dogs with the MDR1 MUTATION.

Problem Drugs

  Silken Windhound

Many different drugs and drug classes have been reported to cause problems in Collies and other herding breed dogs that carry the MDR1 mutation. We and other researchers have documented the toxicity that occurs with several of these drugs.

Blood sample or cheek swab?

DNA obtained from a dog’s blood is the same DNA that would be obtained from that dog’s cheek cells using a swab. We allow submission of either sample because blood is often the sample preferred by veterinary hospitals while cheek swabs are generally preferred by dog owners.
 

Carolyn, this is interesting information, but I doubt it applies in this case.  What I find is that: "If a dog with the MDR1 gene mutation receives a high enough dose of ivermectin (or milbemycin) they can have serious neurological side effects including tremors, seizures, coma and even death"   This is not the picture presented by Loki's history. 

The subject is worthy of a separate post.

The only reason I had ever researched this info was because my breeder specifically stated to me that Ivermectin can cause aggression as a side effect.  I actually contacted Wash State University a couple of months ago when trying to figure out what heartworm med I could give my dog because Intercepter is not currently being producted (it doesn't have the Ivermectin in it).  After talking to them and my vet, I felt pretty comfortable giving it to me dog, but decided I'd watch for changes in his behavior (none seen). On Heartgard's website, it does state "digestive and neurological side effects have rarely been reported".  The site doesn't state, however, what they consider "Neurological".  There are many links on the internet devoted to Heartgard & Sudden Aggresive Behavior.  My breeder recently took a dog back who became aggressive and she swears the Ivermectin is the reason.  I really don't know, but it is worth looking into.  The test is only about $100 and is a mail in swab.  Assuming they ARE using a Heartgard type product, I do believe there are some other heartworm options available on line....just in case....what harm would it do to try to change prescriptions.  It sounds like this family has tried everything else. :-)

So sorry you're going through this and that this has been your experience with a corgi. As others have said, this is absolutely not typical of the breed. How awful of the breeder to blame you for this aggression, and claim it's just a result of "high energy". You sound like a very caring and thoughtful owner. 

At this point, it's time to talk about returning Loki to the breeder---but given the breeder's comments on the situation, I'm not sure how she'll handle it. Euthanasia may really be the most humane option. Discuss this with the behaviorist and your vet. It's not your fault Loki was born like this, and although of course I believe a responsible owner makes a lifetime commitment to a dog---there are some circumstances when that simply cannot be done. This is one them. You and your fiance are putting yourselves in danger. 

 

To add closure to this discussion...we had Loki put to sleep.  It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  Thank you to all who gave support and advice.  I will no longer be posting on this website.

Question:  Has Loki been neutered?  Does he exhibit any other types of aggression (food, toys, etc)?  Do you think he might have been abused or had bad/traumatic experiences before you got him? 

I'd like to think that Loki is redeemable but it will take a lot of work.  You may want to go back to step one and start all over with obedience training...and take it very slowly (baby steps).  Do both of you work equally with Loki?  Have you noticed any triggers?  Can you tell when he's about to go into attack mode?  I have two corgis and I can always tell when they're about to rumble with each other - it all starts with "the stare" (one dog stares at the other intensely...the other dog stares back, their bodies are tensed, then 30 seconds later, it's on!).

Make every moment a training moment.  Keep a treat bag on you.  When Loki does something good - immediately reward that behavior.  Reward good behavior at odd times - for example, you're sitting on the couch and Loki is being nice and calm - Reward.  When Loki does something bad, immediately kennel, say NO, turn your back, etc.  I don't know what to tell you about attack behavior.  Maybe YELP really loud then turn your back?  I know, hard to do when a dog is clamped down but perhaps such a sound might startle Loki long enough to gain control?  Does Loki have a pillow/bed to go toor does the kennel serve as his only sleeping place?  Perhaps you could have a separate pillow/bed in the living room area that he can go lie down on?  My dogs want to be with me all the time but if they can't be on the couch, then they'll go to their pillow (I also have kennels, which are normally used when they go to sleep, though one of my dogs will go there on her own)  

One of my dogs is dog-aggressive.  He's been like this for a long time, ever since he was attacked by dogs in separate instances at dog parks.  It's taken a long, long time, but he's getting better - but it's been really slow going.  When we go out for a walk, I carry a treat bag and pay attention to his behavior and use the walks for training ("sit", "down", "watch me", "turn", "leave it", etc).  I watch him closely for cues:  I watch his ears (since they seem to be the most expressive part of him) and his stance, since this will show whether he's relaxed, sees a doggie friend and is being happy go lucky, or if he's tense or stressed (ears perked, body tense, and he's very alert), which means he sees a dog that's about to set him off.  If I'm observant enough, I can get him to sit and watch me and then reward his good behavior, usually as the offending dog is walking by.  If I don't catch the behavior in time, then I just walk the other way quickly to get him out of the situation as soon as possible since it's too late and he's already in his aggressive trance mode. Once he's in this zone, it's hard to get through to him - he's hyper, barking, snapping, lunging and trying to bite at the other dog.  One big negative is that though he's trying to bite at the other dog (which may be far away), he'll bite at anything that gets in his way.  Unfortunately, since I usually have my other dog with me, he'll bite her (which usually results in both my dogs fighting with each other) or he'll bite me (my legs got in the way).  He's so caught up in the moment that he doesn't know what he's doing - he's just reacting.  I can actually see that his eyes are glazed over.  He truly has no control over himself whatsoever. 

 

The good news is that, with training, he's gotten much better.  I've been working with him for about 3 years now.  It's still a work in progress.  I've learned to watch him and my environment closely to either avoid his triggers or turn them into positives (moving him to a safe distance and rewarding/treating/praising him like crazy as the other dog walks by).  Now, when he sees a trigger dog, he'll still bark and pull at the leash, but he's able to control himself better. It's not perfect.  He still gets into his zones BUT they don't seem to last as long.  He's able to calm down much faster.  We still have a long way to go, but it's better. 

 

So, it'll take a lot of work on the part of you and your fiancee.  Both of you should be closely involved with the training so Loki accepts both of you as the alphas.  You might even have to go as far back as taking his food bowl away and feeding him by hand. 

 

Good luck! 

I'm so sorry to hear of the outcome. What a sad event. I think you did the right thing. You must be heartbroken. Best wishes to you and your fiance.

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