It's been awhile since I've posted but recently Spencer turned 2 and we've noticed small behavioral changes in him. He is a very well mannered corgi and has always been SUPER friendly with all dogs. However, in the past 4-6 weeks he's been snapping and going after some dogs on our walks. They are usually younger puppies who run up to him with a lot of energy BUT it doesn't happen with every puppy. He also, has decided that there are certain dogs he doesn't and will sometimes pre-emptively snap at them. It's hard to figure out since he isn't consistent with his actions and this has never before been an issue. 

He has never been a dominant dog and will often put his ears down when saying hi to people and dogs and has no issue showing his belly when playing or asking for attention. 

Any ideas? And what should I be doing to help prevent this. 

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It is normal for adult dogs to snap at puppies who "run up to him with a lot of energy." They are just telling the pups to mind their manners. At 2 he is really just settling into his adult personality and, just like people, he won't like every dog he meets.

An "air snap" that is no where near hitting any mark is just a warning and a way to say "keep away from me." It's really more likely to be exhibited by softer dogs; the bossy ones don't feel threatened and don't feel the need to defend their space.

Don't let the ears-down greeting color your perception too much, though. My VERY bossy male Corgi generally greets groups of strangers (people or dogs) with ears down and a submissive wag; only a fool would run into a group of strangers with ears forward and an upright posture. Even a more dominant dog will (if well socialized) show submission when greeting a strange group in which he or she is outnumbered.

What you can do is teach him a "look at me" command at home and then use it on walks to focus him on you instead of the strange dogs. If you do that, though, you must ensure that the other dogs don't run right up to him, since this is what he's trying to prevent with his snapping. Make sure that other dogs can either greet him calmly, or keep them away. Corgis, being short, frequently get run over the top of which in my experience can make them less likely to greet every dog with enthusiasm as they mature.
Thanks Beth.

Is there any disciplining I should do when he snaps?
Usually when they snap it's because the other dog makes them uncomfortable, so disciplining usually is counter-productive (since it increases stress). I would not discipline in this case. I would just have a very positive, upbeat way to focus Spencer's attention on you and reward him profusely for staying focused on you around other dogs.

Minimize on-leash encounters, and if he snaps but does not escalate when off-leash playing, then let it go. You will probably see the other dog just move out of his way. It's alarming to US but it's normal conversation for the dogs.
Sounds similar to Al, who started exhibiting similar behavior in, I think, his second year, and it took me by surprise because I'd thought he was such a mellow fellow (a "softer dog" as Beth puts it). Beth's analysis seems to fit, but I've never felt I fully understand this because there've been a couple incidents wherein the other dog did nothing provocative at all that I could see. He's gone way beyond an air snap, too -- quite vicious-looking biting at the other dog's ruff -- but I'm told that if a dog doesn't do any damage, it did not intend to.
Joanna Kimball has a "Ruffly Speaking" blog -- -- search on "aggression". or
puppy license and adult bahavior
She recommends Katz’s The New Work of Dogs.
My feeling is that Al's behavior is defensive. It's usually a similar-sized or bigger dog he snaps at, not smaller ones. Being a smaller dog, 26 lbs., he may have a little Napoleon complex.
I wish he'd give more of a warning growl before he lunges and snaps. He may give warning cues I don't see, like a curled lip.
He is right about the age when dogs reach behavioral maturity and dogs that were usually very submissive before start asserting their dominance. Its just a matter of working him through it and letting him know this behavior is not ok or encouranged. Try to use methods to distract him so he doesn't focus in on other dogs and build up negative energy. Also, one thing to consider on your walks, when another dog comes along how do you react? Do you unconsciously tighten the leash and reel him in shorter? By doing this you are inadvertently putting him in a dominant posture and my be making the problem worse without realizing it.
I try to minimize having other dogs greet while mine are leashed. Sparty is fine as long as the other dog is fairly polite but he won't stand for an aggressive greeting, Izzy is obviously bothered by having strange dogs running up to her but she doesn't attack she either rolls over or tries to move away. My dobe really doesn't like it and I great discourage it. I find people with unruly dogs listen better when you have a doberman than they do when you have a corgi! Something about that extra 45 lbs..
Yeah Midas used to be fine with all that stuff too, but once he reached maturity he started not loving all puppies or overly excited dogs. He normally won't say anything off leash unless it is just an unruly puppy bothering him. Then of course all the puppy parents are like OMG! your dog is getting too rough with my puppy. In my head I'm thinking....and your puppy biting my dogs face and ears while mine is grazing couldn't possibly have anything to do with my dogs aggression?! haha. At this point though with most people I think I have come to expect it and it is no longer alarming. If Midas is on leash though he does not like a hyper dog on leash, we typically greet with no problems besides a snarl from time to time depending on the dog and then Midas just stays back while Dozer greets.
I just want to chime in to say that I think on-leash greetings with other dogs are kind of pointless, and I don't think they do the dogs any favours. There's something about being on-leash that increases the tension of a greeting. Casey usually starts to pull, which puts tension on the leash, which I think just increases her excitement/anxiety/nervousness.

I personally just avoid on-leash greetings. It's either off-leash, or nothing. Obviously it doesn't always work out this way (some people in my neighbourhood allow their dogs off-leash, and so they run up to my dog who is on-leash, which is not really fair) but you can't control everything.
Thanks for all the great advice! We've been working on the "look at me" command and that's a lot of fun. Spencer has been pretty good recently and I've noticed if I just drop the leash and let him sniff the dog out he's fine. He has no problem at the dog park either and we take him to both the big dog side and the small dog side, so I think you guys are right about the leash greeting.

Thanks again!
Noodles doesn't like hyper dogs and will pin his ears back when they approach him. I try to say in a calm manner that it is okay and I'll pet that dog. He is 5 and I'm still working on this with him. Somedays it doesn't bother him though. It is weird, I can think of only one dog that he acts like this around. He used to not like two huskies that were walked down at the park, but we don't see them anymore. Now it is a large black poodle that he doesn't seem to care for and we've met another large black poodle and he is fine with that one.


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