Hello,
My wife and I just recently brought home our first corgi named Reginald. We got him when he was 3 months old and he is now almost 7 months old. Just recently he's started exhibiting some troubling behavior. Once or twice before he'd get ahold of something he wasn't supposed to. We would tell him no and he would immediately run away from us. If we'd try to distract him from the object and take it away, he'd growl but would immediately return to his normal self once the item was taken away. Last weekend at a training class, he grabbed an item he wasn't meant to have but he continued to growl and snap back even after the item was retrieved. We then took him after the class to Petco for more training treats. He grabbed a bone we weren't prepared to purchase for him. This time I was able to retrieve the item and he snapped back at me again and caught my fingers. Have any had issues similar to this? We're trying to figure out the best way to handle a situation like this and would like to make sure we teach him the right way to handle it as well. Normally we've tried just pinning him on his side until he's calmed and then he'd be fine. We've also been working with him the last week days, giving him a treat or toy and then taking it away to show him that this behavior isn't acceptable and we haven't had another episode of aggression. We've also no longer allowed him on the bed with us during the evening before being put in his crate at night, stopped play wrestling, and been must more stern during every day training.

Any help or tips would be appreciated. Did he just have a bad day or is there more that we need to continue to be worried about with future development? We just don't want to one day to have children and the dog feel as though the child's toys were his and possibly lash out.

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Just to give you some context, if you were having dessert in a restaurant and the waiter came and snatched the fork and plate away in mid-mouthful and ran off with it, how would YOU react? How about if you were reading a book and your wife snatched it away while you were in mid-sentence? What do you do if someone changes the tv channel right before the end of your favorite program? I'll bet you at least say "Hey!!"

I usually ask this question for people to reframe their minds and recognize that growling when someone removes an item is NORMAL behavior. That doesn't mean we don't work on it, but it is NOT a sign of "aggression" or "dominance." A puppy's growl is just his way of saying "Hey, I wanted that!!!"

I know you mean well, but your response has just reinforced his idea that you steal stuff from him.

The best way to handle this is to teach the dog to trade. Start working with low-value items, like a not-favorite toy.

Wave a treat in front of him, tell him "leave it" and give him the treat. Make the treat really good (cheese, real meat, liver treats) and give him four or five pieces. Hold the toy in your hand, and as soon as he is done with the treats, GIVE THE TOY BACK.

Do this several times a week, and be positive and praise, praise, praise. Soon he will give you his toy willingly with a smile. When this happens, gradually up the ante with more favored toys. Eventually you can work up to taking away something like kibble if you trade for something better. Remember, you will always (during training) give the original item back.

What this means is your dog thinks that you taking things from him is a great idea and he will willingly let things go. And then when he DOES get something he should not have and you (rarely) take something from him that he does not get back, he will be ok with that because it's the exception, not the norm.

Just a caution: dogs that are great at giving things to people are sometimes not good at all if other dogs are nearby, because they fear the other dog will steal it. My advice is not to try to remove something from your dog with other dogs nearby until you get a real good feel for his behavior.

Good luck! This is a very common problem and most of us (myself included) originally do exactly the wrong thing and worse the problem. We've all been there. :-)
Beth,
I agree that the displeasure with having something taken away is normal. But that's not the behavior we're worried about. It's the behavior that occurred where took an item away and he lashed out with barring his teeth, growling and barking, and lunging to bite our hands in anger if we came too close to calm him down. When it happened in Petco, there were children hiding behind their parents thinking he was a violent dog that would attack them when we removed him from the store.

Before all this happened we had been training with trading and 'Leave it' as you suggested. A treat or toy would be taken, rewarded with treats, and given back.

Also it might not have been clear, but when I stated that we'd distract him, it would usually be with a toy or treat to trade. Normally he has no problem letting go of something and he would be praised greatly for being patient before getting an object, toy, or food back.

Maybe it was just the surroundings as he was unfamiliar in Petco and at the training site with other dogs.

My dog doesn't eat unless he has permission.  So I guess that's where I entered on this.   When I'm in the final stages of meal preparation, say, last ten minutes, I put his food down and have him sit next to it.  When we sit down to eat I say "OK!" and that releases him to eat.  

On a one or two occasions I went to eat outside and forgot to release him.  I came back in half an hour later and he had lain down, food uneaten.  There was a puddle of drool.  Poor guy.  When he is staying with other people he waits for permission, too.  While staying with another dog he was quite dismayed when, sitting quietly by his bowl, the other dog (not trained to wait) went and helped himself.  

My hunch is that I established very early that his access to food depended entirely on my say-so and that this has carried over to other things.  But it might also be his personality.  He's extremely non-aggressive.  In fact I hardly ever hear him bark.  Maybe once every month or two.

It could be the novel surroundings, the fact that he had "discovered" a new toy/treat on his own outside the home, or the fact that other dogs are near.   I would work on the trade game in various outdoor surroundings with no other dogs around.  The only time Jack has every snarled at me is when he had found or been given a highly coveted item and another dog was trying to steal it, and I tried to take it from him.  I actually think the snarling was triggered by the other dog, because otherwise you can take things right out of his mouth.  


Frequently, saying "leave it" before the dog gets it is better in theses circumstances.  If that is not possible, try walking with him to a quiet area where there is no one else around, then trading for the item.

Beth's advise is excellent.  Learning to "leave it" could save his life some day.  It's one of the most important commands they need to learn.

Maybe you could try teaching 'Drop' instead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndTiVOCNY4M

I like this trainer's technique.

I agree with Beth's suggestion and it sounds as if you are working on that. Corgis were bred to keep critters out of the garden and tell one ton animals what to do. They often do not react in a mild mannered way to things they don't like. Some are easy but some will resist as Reginald did especially as an adolescent. This is an age where they will try their parameters a bit. Work on the trades but when you are removing something it does help to say "leave it" and then while crowding his space a little wait for him to drop it before completing the trade. Cesar demonstrates this on his show often, That pause helps remove the instinctive "it is mine" response. With training this stage should pass :) Corgis can be very strong willed characters!   

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