A friend was lamenting about her Corgi’s sudden assertiveness and aggression towards the cats in the house. This is a very capable dog guardian, and this is what I told her…….
Susie, you are “one of those” that will solve the problem if doable. You are the top dog of your pack, and you do have some control over how they interact with each other, at least while in your presence.
Of course, as you correctly stated, medical issues for the behavior change have been ruled out.
Corgis are often very hardy, active, highly intelligent, obedient, protective and devoted dogs. The same characteristic that make them devoted and protective can make them assume pack authority if they sense a gap that needs to be filled.
Behavior toward the cats and aggressiveness towards you can be one of the same or different issues. You may have to reclaim some territorial and hierarchy authority so that your cues are respected, if E (the dog’s name) is sensing a need to exert his own authority.
Depending how much time you spend with the cats, there could be a jealousy component as well, or E is deciding to give in to the instinctual prey dive.
As a member of the Herding breeds, the instinct to chase and catch animals has been modified to chase and gather them together by nipping at their heels and barking. Corgis still maintain that habit when chasing each other. So you might have some of that at play.
It’s altogether best to prevent the pursuit, once the chase sequence starts. The dog will not only be likely to be deaf to instructions, but the driven mental state can make a dog bite or threaten.
There are different ways to train a dog with prey drive to coexist peacefully with cats and other small pets. I believe it is best to teach dogs that cats are off limits and are not to be disturbed. With the help of another person like a friend or family member you can have several short daily training sessions.
Have the dog wear a training collar and leash and direct him to assume a sit/stay next to you. Have the other person hold the cat on the other side of the room. For reasons of getting a training lesson across, hopefully your dog will be very curious and on the way to building excitement at seeing the cat, but insist that he remain in the sit/stay position. Praise your dog for sitting calmly. You must judge almost instantly if the dog is going to stay within a balanced state of mind or you have to apply correction. A sit/stay now needs to be turned into a “down on its side” to get composure.
Have your assistant bring the cat a few steps closer. If your dog’s composure is stable and can maintain quietly at your side, wonderful! Offer praise for the right behavior and a high quality snack reward (optional, but helpful) like meat, chicken or cheese. If he tries to lunge at the cat, administer a stern and fierce-sounding “NO! LEAVE IT!” along with a short, sharp jerk tug with the lead in an effort to put him back in a more balanced state and in the sit/stay position.
As soon as control is established again, issue praise, and maybe give another treat. Continue bringing the cat closer by a few feet, and repeat the corrections as needed and make sure to praise when corrections are not needed.
Patience will be needed depending on the dog’s level of intensity with the issue. You might only be able to gain a few feet each session. Or you can gain control in very short order. It all depends on variables that you are more familiar with.
When the dog is able to calmly accept the cat next to or near him, you proceed with the next step. With the collar and leash remaining on so if necessary you can easily take control in an instant to give the necessary correction should any sign of wanting to chase the cat develops.
In order to be effective, you must be able to correct the dog almost instantly each and every time he even thinks about going after the cat. Release the dog from the sit/stay and let him have free roam of the room with the cat present. Your supervision is critical – If an attempted chase goes uncorrected even once, you’ll have to start your training over from the beginning.
When you are in the beginning stages of coexistence cooperation, when the cats come into the room, issue another high end treat. Eventually, the dog may welcome the cats’ entrance as being associated with a welcome reward.
Susie, that is the picture as I can see it, hope some of the info fits your problem and is able to bring the order back. You will solve this.
…..I later learned that Susie’s cats were arguing among themselves and that seemed to start E, the Corgi, into an aggressive mode. So, Ahhh, the plot thickens. I told Susie that E might be objecting to the pack having an unbalanced environment and it is his instinct to help achieve order.
And, this was her response to me…………
I wrote a response a few minutes ago, and it must have gone off into oblivion. So, I’ll post again. Darn those cranky servers!
Eli is everything you have said of Corgis, except obedient. Well, he’s obedient most of the time, and tests his limits the rest of the time. He has gotten better over time, and is not nearly as testy as he used to be. And, I have gotten better at asserting myself.
That said, the cats have been fighting amongst themselves. Eli has been attempting to police these incidents as much as possible. Other times he’ll trap a cat in a corner, and not let them by. I know this is part of herding behavior, but, trying to eat the “herdee” is not, and this is where the trouble starts. If I happen to walk into the situation, then his mind is set, just as you said. Breaking the mindset is what’s hard. I have been using his training collar with a 4 foot lead to give corrections. He gets corrected for even looking like he wants to look at a cat. Last night he was extremely difficult, and I had to get a bit rough and put him in a submission position. This is always difficult. I don’t know if it’s due to his body dynamics or my lack of strength. Either way, he is contrite this evening.
I haven’t been using treats for when the cats enter the room, so will give that a try, along with all the techniques you have outlined.
Thanks for all of your advice and confidence.
Have a great night.
I think she has it handled.
If you need training help – 3 terrific options: