Teach, Don’t Punish
My 2 year old female Corgi will fight any dogs or people that get too close. While she’ll let me pet her, she will not get on my lap. She will get on my husband’s lap, nuzzle his hand, and sleep (with one eye open) but if he tries to hand me the TV remote she’ll growl and snap at him. If he passes by my chair she scurries over and growls and snaps. House creaks or my husband moving anywhere in the house causes her to sound the high pitched yapping alarm.
Yikes! This is one scared dog. She has reacted to sounds and movements so many times that she now has a knee-jerk aggressive reaction to a growing list of fear triggers. She lunges and snaps in her attempt to drive-off the scary monsters that surround her. She is not a happy camper; in fact, she’s down-right miserable. And she is getting worse. Correcting, reprimanding, or punishing the fear-related manifestations of this behavior disorder could only worsen her angst.
The first priority for this kid is to stop her problem behaviors from worsening. If you prevent her access to your furniture she will avoid a location that she associates with perceived threats. Using a leash you can tether her such that she can be near you folks but unable to jump onto your furniture with you. She needs to earn that great privilege.
The thinking, decision-making part of your dog’s brain gets overwhelmed by her fear. A daily medication like fluoxetine can safely help reduce her anxiety and her reactive aggression. A pulsed electromagnetic field device called the Calmer Canine (cq) has been approved for separation anxiety but has helped many dogs with other manifestations of anxiety, including noise phobias.
As your girl feels better she can learn to follow simple commands that will earn her the excellent reward of being invited back on your furniture. Target and clicker training would be fun and easy to implement while sitting in your easy chair. I am glad you wrote. Your corgi’s quality of life can be improved significantly-not to mention yours and your husband’s.
Dr. Jeff Nichol provides pet behavior consultations in-person and virtually by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on behavioral or physical concerns on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.