Hi, everyone! Sorry beforehand for my little life's story here, but it's done just so that you all have the facts.
My corgi Pippa is 14 months old now and is 95% of the time a very happy, friendly and loving dog. I've had her since she was 8 weeks old.
However, as she aged, I noticed some aggression develop. At first, I thought it was possessive aggression. She would growl and snap when we tried to remove her toys from her, but we caught onto the behavior early and corrected it. We can now take away her toys and other possessions with no problem.
But then I noticed also that she would become very alert and would growl if I was with her on the couch or on the floor--anywhere really--and she heard someone (usually a family member) approaching. A few times, she's snapped at my sister for passing by. When we noticed that she was doing that, we forbade her from going on the couch. However, even if she's lying on the floor and detects someone coming, she'll be alert. Sometimes she'll growl. Other times, she won't. And still, other times she'll outright charge.
Then, quite recently, my family and I were in our living room, watching TV. She was sleeping on the floor. My dad, who was on the couch, stretched and yawned and I suppose it must have startled her, because she reacted to it by biting him. She caught his toe and let go when I grabbed her, and she didn't draw any blood. But since it was the first time she's expressed aggression towards my dad, he flipped and said that she needed to be put down. Since then, she's gotten worse. She bit my sister who was sitting beside her doing homework, and one flip of the papers in her hand provoked my dog to lunge and bite. She bit her in the arm and didn't draw blood, but did cause a large bruise.
What I don't understand is how, when I take her for walks outside, she is all wagging tail and happiness when she meets strangers. She also loves children, and does fine with them petting her. Of course, I am supervising all of the interactions. I have her sit before being petted. Yet, at home, she expresses such aggression towards the people who take care of her. Granted, she is not like this all of the time. Most of the time she is loving and playful, but there have just been some instances that cause me to worry.
Also, I'm afraid that this biting and aggression may be expanding to other dogs as well. Since she's bitten my dad, I've been watching her closely, trying to figure out what are her triggers, and I've noticed that when she sees another dog approaching on her walks, she'll stop dead in her tracks and move to the side. Some dogs she'll bark at for no reason. Other dogs she'll feel brave enough to approach, though very cautiously. She's also not keen on very eager dogs who walk right up to her face to sniff her. She gets very twitchy, and a few times she's snapped at a few dogs who have gotten too close and personal for her.
I really don't want her to be afraid of other dogs, and I've tried to associate approaching dogs with good things. I'd have her sit and feed lots of good treats to her while the dog approached, and it seemed to work for a time, but she still got a bit snappy when they got too close, or sniffed somewhere she didn't like. A part of me believes this is because when she was very young, our neighbor's dog (who doesn't get out much) got out, off leash, and came up on our porch. I was out on the porch at the time brushing Pippa, and my dog had gotten a bit aggressive because this new dog whom she had never seen before was suddenly on her doorstep. She reacted defensively, and our neighbor's dog snarled and bit my dog, drawing a wound above her eye. After that encounter, my dog became very wary around and aggressive towards dogs that resembled our neighbor's.
I visited my vet to discuss this problem, and after describing Pippa's behavior, they believed that she is a fearful dog.
They gave me a few plans of action. They said that I can see a pet behaviorist, but it is costly, and I was told that there is no guarantee that the fear anxiety will ever go away. They also encouraged me to put her back into obedience classes (she took them as a puppy), perhaps even one specifically geared towards fearful dogs. And last, but certainly the hardest one for me to swallow, is for her to be euthanized.
Her biting as a result of her fear is too much a risk to take, especially since most of the bites have been done to family members, and I don't want the day to come where my dog really hurts someone. Yet, she's been to the groomer's where they have had to handle her--cutting her nails, bathing her, cleaning her ears and brushing her teeth even--and I have NEVER had them call me saying that she bit them or was being bad. ALL of their comments on her behavior have been positive. Some of the groomers are always especially happy to see her and even those who have never handled her before are surprised by how sweet she is.
I don't want to risk her being a danger in my own house to my own family, yet the fact that she is such a well-behaved and sweet dog most of the time makes it very difficult for me to want to see her put down, especially because I am the kind of person who feels, if something is not going right, it is my fault and that there is something I can do to improve the situation. I know I would feel exceptionally guilty if the behaviorist or the classes did little to help her aggressive behavior and my only option would then be to have her euthanized.
Even though she is only 14 months and I've had her only for little more than a year, I love this dog dearly, but I also don't want her to live muzzled for the rest of her life, and I certainly don't want my family to live constantly on edge, wondering what might trigger her next bite.
I really don't know what to do. I want what's best for both my family and my dog, but I don't know if I could face the truth--that perhaps the only way to give my dog the best is to have her put down.
And I know that my story is not a unique one, that there are of plenty of other owners who were just dealt a bad hand, but still, just thinking about having to put her down brings me to tears. Any advice--criticism even, I don't care--would truly be appreciated.