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Dog Reacts Aggressively to Movements and Machines

Anxiety Quickly Leads to Fear

Question:

My 2 year old female Corgi is devoted to me–so much so that she 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. She hates windshield wipers and will jump up on the dash and growl at them-even when they are not in use. She hates the washing machine. We cannot turn on our gas fireplace without her hysterics. House creaks or my husband moving anywhere in the house is cause for her to sound the high pitched yapping alarm.

 

Dr. Nichol:

Yikes! Your corgi is one scared dog. She has reacted to startles and movements so many times that she now has a knee-jerk aggressive reaction to a growing list of fear triggers. Being over-bonded to you, along with her protective aggression, only complicates this difficult problem.

Your corgi guards access and proximity to you like a high-value, scarce resource. She thinks there isn’t enough of you to go around. If she doesn’t have all of you she will get none of you. Forget human logic (you have an abundance of love for your girl). This dog lunges at other creatures in her attempt to drive them off. She seldom rests.

Your seriously anxious corgi hates anything she doesn’t understand: windshield wipers, your husbands’ unexpected movements, and normal household noises. She is not a happy camper; in fact, she is down-right miserable. And she is getting worse.

The underlying problem is generalized anxiety. Correcting, reprimanding, or punishing the fear-related manifestations of this behavior disorder could only worsen your dog’s angst.

An in-depth history, direct observation, and an evaluation of video of your corgi’s postures at home would be necessary to fully understand the problem. There are some excellent research-based behavior modification methods that can be applied; antianxiety medication would also be likely to make a difference. I am glad you wrote. Your corgi’s quality of life can be improved significantly-not to mention your life and your husband’s.