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Categories: Soft Dogs and Weak Nerves

Q. My Corgi had and incident with my fiance and he evacuated his bowels, his bladder, and his anal glands onto the tile floor and I have a few questions about what happened.

I have a 10 month old Pembroke Welsh Corgi male that seems to be doing very well. He was neutered around 6 months and is usually very obedient. He's been crate trained since 8 weeks old and generally spends 4-6 hours out of the crate over the course of the day in 1-2 hour periods. To me he feels like a soft dog where only a verbal correction is necessary to get him to respond in most cases. A smack on the butt is usually more than enough to correct other more persistent things such as continuing to bark at something outside when he's already been verbally corrected. He does not show aggressiveness towards people except perhaps if someone is being too rough with him, which I think any dog would respond the same way. When he is out, I only need to call him once and he will come running to where I am and sits beside my feet. He will do this as well when he is corrected by my fiancee, although I consciously do not attempt to coddle him when he does this. I will just allow him to come to where I am sitting and sit by my feet. He is the dog in the house which is "mine" while my fiancee also has a 1 year old Chihuahua (who is also very well trained). She normally handles much of the training but does leave many things with my Corgi up to me. She also does training with an experienced dog trainer she works with who I also believe to be a good trainer based on seeing her work. I have done a lot of reading on your site and read every newsletter e-mail you send. All this being said, once in a while I will disagree with my fiancee on her methods of training. Usually because it seems harsh to me or that it feels too aggressive towards the dogs. Normally though our views coincide, most of my views coming from your training articles and philosophy. It is definitely true that more corrections and more harsh corrections come from her than from me.

One of those times was the other day when my Corgi and her Chihuahua were peacefully chewing on some cow hooves in their bed. She had just taken a dose of her inhaler and made an audible exhaling sound afterward. Suddenly my Corgi starts barking very loudly which she said was directed towards her. At this point she didn't realize it was due to the sound she had just made, it seemed to be out of nowhere. Usually if one of us mimics barking, the Chihuahua will bark but not the Corgi, so we don't know why this set him off. She does not tolerate much barking from the dogs and normally a verbal correction is all that either require to get them to be mostly, if not completely quiet. She called his name loudly but he did not stop barking, so she threw a bag of potato chips at him. While I am not sure that you would agree with this correction, normally this simply serves as a distraction for the dog to snap their mind out of whatever it was that was causing their bad behavior, normally barking. Of course he runs from the bag flying at him but continues to bark. At this point she chases him into the corner which he had run to and either put him on his back or he rolled to his back. I know that her intention was certainly not to hit him or issue any kind of harsh correction, just to get control of him. Either way the worst part was that due to her running after him, he evacuated his bowels, his bladder, and his anal glands onto the tile floor. He never usually had an issue with submissive urination, as our Chihuahua sometimes does, so his reaction was very shocking to me. Also while she was reaching for him and while she had him on his back, he turned his head towards her hands 3 times indicating he wanted to bite. I don't believe he actually made any teeth to hand contact though. At this point she picked him up and put him in his crate in the bedroom. Through all of this, the Chihuahua remained in the bed and did not join in the barking at all.

So, the outcome of this situation was that we discussed the fact that he appears to be scared of her in some respect, and not just for the events of that day, but for past events as well. It's possible that he was corrected too hard at too young an age when he was a puppy and that fostered some kind of fear of her. He is normally just as friendly towards her as towards me though, and she gives him plenty of affection, so I am not sure if this is the case. My questions would be

1. Was this manner of correcting him harmful to his training rather than helpful?
2. Was his response (the bodily fluids going everywhere) indicative of an extreme level of fear beyond that of simply having something thrown at him?
3. Is running to sit at my feet after corrections (even verbal corrections from me) a behavior we should not allow?

Thank you so much for your time


A. A couple of things jump out at me. There is conflict between the two humans in the house over how the dog should be handled. This is not good for a dog. I might say that your dog at only 10 months old should not be allowed to be in a position where he needs a lot of corrections. A smack on the butt is not something I would recommend for teaching a dog anything.

Personally I think your fiancée way overdid it. Dogs don’t express their anal glands and pee and poop unless they are extremely terrified. Why would a dog like this be rolled over on his back? Of course he acted like he wanted to bite; he was cornered and scared out of his wits.

I wouldn’t allow your fiancée to correct this dog anymore in this way. Everything should be handled via a leash and collar and I think it would be wise to re-establish clear leadership in a fair and non confrontational way. I’d keep the corgi on a leash at all times when he was not in a crate. By keeping him on a leash he won’t be able to run to you if he’s with her and it will avoid the whole flight/fear thing that happened with your fiancée.

I’d recommend working with him with this video Pack Structure for the Family Pet and I’d use marker training to teach him what you want from him.

The Power of Training Dogs with Markers

I think this is a relationship problem that can be repaired if you both are willing to change a few things.

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