Hello everyone!  This is my first post here, I've been reading for about a month.  We stumbled into a corgi needing a home this past weekend and couldn't be happier with Beckham.  His Dad was moving and couldn't take him and we were a good match so we got to take him home.  He's a 4 year old, intact (soon to be taken care of), housetrained, indoor dog.  Most everything is going great.  He settled right in and shadows me everywhere.  He likes the family and doesn't seem to distressed at the new home.  Today he seems sadder than he did prior days.  I think it may have sunk in that Dad isn't coming back to get him.  

I said most things are going well, well here's the rub.  I'm having trouble understanding him during playtime.  He didn't come with any toys and we bought him several.  He destroyed many of them within minutes.  Considering how much his teeth improved with his first round of chewing, I'm guessing he hasn't had toys in a while.  He loves to have us throw the toy and he doesn't want to give it up when he brings it back.  He likes to drop it, wait for you to reach for it, then snatch it away.  Pretty normal, I've had other dogs do this.  His voice during this exchange is what freaks me out.  He is very talkative and I've figured out a lot of his meanings, but this toy thing sounds aggressive and I don't know how to read him.  He brings the toy back and either wants me to toss it again or tug with him but when I reach for it, his barking changes tone to an aggressive bark and some growling and the lip snarls a little.  But then if I don't engage him, he acts very hurt.  I'm working on drop it and he's taking to it slowly.  But in the meantime, any insight on this "play with me but don't touch my toy" behavior?  I don't want to act fearful of him, but I already have two blood blisters on my finger where I got nipped in a tug of war game.  Not his fault and the only thing that happened was that I left the game but I'm not eager to make it a daily thing.  Would this fall under toy guarding?  Or is this just normal corgi play talk and I need to get over myself?  I have had a corgi in the past, but she didn't have a lot of the corgi behaviors so a lot of this is new to me.  Thanks y'all!  

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Here's one way to teach dogs self-control with a tug.  There are others, and it's a great reinforcer for "leave it" at the same time.  


 Beth, the word dominance is often misunderstood and indeed many use the word dominant to mean aggressive, so I will specify how I intend it.  Dominance simply means "has leadership qualities".  If you look at it that way, an owner who knows what he or she is doing, will have no problems with a dominant dog, because the owner will always have better "leadership qualities" than the dog.  In such case, like in your example of family members with good dog experience, or the Agility trainers, tug of war, can be done in such a way that the person retains control.  When the person says "give"  or "drop it" the dog stops trying to claim it and gives it up readily.  Police dogs, tracking dogs, drug detection dogs, all highly trained, often are allowed a tug game as a reward for performance, with no problem.

Unfortunately, all too many dog owners, especially with young puppies, play this "game" with no control over the untrained dog.  With submissive dogs, no problem, but dominant dogs will learn they can challenge a human with physical force and growls and often they can win at this.  Not the best message to give any dog and can escalate into aggression, particularly with children.  Dominance games between dogs are not a problem unless a fight ensues, but this does not usually happen in the household situation because dogs who live together can tell who is who and, as you point out, most know to self-regulate during play. 

Thank you all so much for the wonderful answers.  I've been watching him closer as we play and though I haven't seen any play bow, his tail nub is wagging 90 to nothing to whole time.  Heather asked why I thought it was an aggressive bark, his voice and eye focus changed in intensity.  He would lock eyes with me and the bark would get deeper and more harsh.  Now that I have read through your responses and watched him a little closer, I think it's more of just a focus on the object at hand. Making sure I am listening to him at the moment maybe.  It sounds like he is perfectly corgi with an emphasis on the bossy side.  I have backed off the tug games till we get to know each other better.  I don't want to seem weak this early on.  I have body blocked the toy a time or two when he has been too bossy with me and I want to put the toy away.  He seemed to understand what I was asking of him and when we played later, he was more gentle. I can take it away from him and though he protests, he doesn't fight.  I don't think he is guarding it after all.  My daughter (4 y/o) walked over and took his ball away from him yesterday while he was playing and he didn't bat an eye.  I freaked (on the inside, I didn't want to spook anyone) since I wasn't close enough to intervene and afterwords, went over the rules with her again.  He seems to treat the kids differently than he does me and my husband.  I think we are beginning to see where our limits are and what I need to work on for myself and with him.

We have found a few things he can't tear up as easily.  His kong toy is holding up well, I ordered a kong ball as well.  The firehose toy is doing pretty good but he is working hard at taking the ends off of it. On the bright side, his fit of chewing saved me the cost of a dental cleaning!  His teeth were yucky brown but now they are clean white. I'm thrilled to have him and I'm enjoying learning about him and me in the process.  Thank you for the warm reception here.  I never expected so many responses, and really helpful ones at that!  I think I've found a great community!  


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