Training a Pair of Corgi’s Stop Fighting and Running Out the Door

By: David Codr

Published Date: November 30, 2016

bo-and-winnie

Winnie and Bo are a pair of Corgi’s who live in Omaha. Winnie was adopted as a pup, but Bo was rescued as a mature puppy. The guardians set up a dog obedience training session with me to put a stop to Winnie’s attacks on Bo, both dog’s desire to run out the door and get them both to listen to the humans better.

The dogs were excited to meet me when I arrived for the session; jumping up, circling around and barking. Because the dogs had a history of running out the door, their guardian grabbed them by the collar. While this seems logical, holding a dog back physically can result in other issues as you can see in this video.

Any time a dog is reacting and we restrain them physically, we can intensify the dog’s reaction. This happens because the energy the dog uses to break free ends up transferring to their initial reaction, making it more intense. This is one of the reasons that a dog that is pulling on a leash continues to do so and pulls stronger the more the handler pulls back. Teaching a dog to walk with a loose leash is a great example of how beneficial dog training can be,

In this case, being held back right next to another excited yet unbalanced dog resulted in some light aggression; Bo nipping at Winnie. This was unusual as usually it was Winnie, the larger dog who was the aggressor in most of their dust ups.

After reviewing the footage, I don’t think it was a case of redirected aggression. This was more of a case of Bo saying “stop bumping into me. Can’t you see im barking at the new guy?”

Either way, I knew that I needed to show the guardians a better way of answering the door to stop the door dashing. I got an opportunity to show them exactly how to do so when their room mate and his girlfriend arrived about 15 minutes into our session.

By first claiming the area around the door, I was able to decrease the intensity of their reaction to the new arrivals. The next move was breaking down the door answering process into small steps. By reaching for the door, jiggling the knob and only opening it a crack, I had the opportunity to train the dogs to stay calm and in place.

I suggested that the guardians call or text one another when they are on their way home so that they can practice this exercise without the pressure of an actual guest waiting. This is one of my favorite problems to solve as its pretty quick if the guardians practice it 10-20 times over the course of a week to 10 days.

Once the dogs stop at the line as the human walks past them to answer the door, they can stop actively practicing with one another. However, they should continue to enforce this boundary when all guests arrive or depart. This will train them to stay in place and put a stop dogs running out the door.

Another benefit of training the dogs to behave at the door is that the distance wont allow them to jump up on the guest. When a dog jumps up on a new arrival, its their way of saying “Im in charge” or “you belong to be.”

Training dogs to stay calm isn’t just something to practice at the door. I recommended that the guardians look for opportunities to incorporate a pause before letting the dogs out a door, before they can eat, etc. This type of obedience training will help them develop more control and lead to a dog with good manners.

Enforcing these rules will probably be more challenging for Winnie as her guardians acknowledged that they had spoiled her. To help them with this transition, I recommended they practice my petting with a purpose method. This involves asking the dog to sit or lay down before the guardians pet them. By asking the dogs to earn their praise, the guardians will also help the dogs develop more respect for them as authority figures.

By the end of the session, the dogs were already following the new rules, were staying calm at the door and we had achieved the primary issues; stop running out the door.

Because both dogs are smart, this is really going to be up to the humans. It will be a challenge to enforce the new rules as they have gotten used to lavishing love and attention on these dogs. But adding rules and structure will help the dogs start to identity as followers as well as keep them from getting over excited and out of balance which most certainly was a contributing factor to the fights.

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