How to Train Your Dog to Stop Being Submissive

Hard
1-12 Months
Behavior

Introduction

You've been out for a couple of hours. Returning home, the dog is super-excited to see you but throws himself to the ground. As you reach out to stroke that delectable tummy, the dog urinates on the floor. 

Hygiene aspects aside, this isn't nice for the dog, especially as this behavior is likely to be submissive and a glimpse into the dog's state of anxiety. 

Indeed, a submissive dog is likely to spend a lot of his life feeling anxious or fearful. At best, this is unpleasant for the dog, and at worst it could lead to growling or biting if the dog feels sufficiently threatened to lash out. This is most commonly the case when a child doesn't understand that a dog rolled on their back isn't asking for a belly rub but is actually fearful. When that child then persists in stroking the dog, perhaps even a little roughly, the dog may be sufficiently anxious to bite. 

No-one wants a dog to be distressed, especially when the solution often lies in our own hands. 

Defining Tasks

Teaching a to stop being submissive is best done by building the dog's confidence. It's not possible to simply command a dog not to be submissive, instead, you must work on rewarding confident behavior. Once the dog learns that boldness is a good thing, then it becomes less likely he will need to show his submissive side. 

A common mistake made by many owners of submissive dogs is to coo over their pet pal when he rolls into a submissive position. Unfortunately, attention is a highly prized commodity to a dog and making a fuss only reinforces the dog's submissiveness. 

Instead, turn the problem on its head and ignore the dog when he shows anxiety, and praise him when he approaches you confidently. Then he will learn that boldness is a good thing and he doesn't need to be submissive. 

Getting Started

Most important when teaching a dog not to be submissive is an endless supply of time and patience. It is by building the dog's trust that the battle is won, and there is no fast-track option for doing this. 

It's also helpful to acquaint yourself with how to read dog body language so that you can recognize the subtle signs that indicate the dog is stressed or anxious. This will help you avoid accidentally rewarding submissive actions and build on the confident ones. 

To help the process you will need: 

  •  Treats
  • A treat bag you can wear on a belt, so that treats are to hand at all times
  • A rope tugger toy
  • A collar and leash, for attending agility classes
  • Understanding friends and visitors who are prepared to work with you and the dog

The Build Confidence Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Understand the idea
Dogs get into the habit of acting submissively, but equally, they can learn boldness when taught in a patient and sympathetic manner. This is done through a combination of rewarding bold actions, engaging in confidence-building games, and activities which grow the dog's self-confidence.
Step
2
Build confidence with visitors
Before visitors arrive, explain the dog is submissive and it's best to ignore him. Have the visitors act in a quiet, calm manner and don't respond if the dog rolls over.
Step
3
Reward the dog for approaching visitors
Give visitors a small supply of treats. While the guest ignores the dog, if he approaches, have the visitor toss a treat close to the dog in order to reward him. This teaches the dog that guests are a good thing and helps build his confidence.
Step
4
Play confidence-building games
Games such as tug are not only fun but help to build an anxious dog's confidence. Try shaking a tug-toy in front of the dog and encouraging him to take it. Pull on the other end of the toy, while making fun noises and praising the dog when he tugs back. Crucially, let the dog win, which bolsters confidence. (The opposite is true with a domineering dog. In this case you should teach the dog to release the toy to you.)
Step
5
Build self-confidence with activities
Fun activities such as agility classes can be a huge confidence booster to an anxious dog. He learns that he has the ability to tackle small or low obstacles and that doing so is fun. When he enjoys himself he forgets to be anxious and learns a new way of being.
Recommend training method?

The What NOT to Do Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Avoid staring directly at the dog
In dog language, staring directly is a challenge of authority and a potential act of aggression. This is guaranteed to make a submissive dog uncomfortable. Instead, if you need to watch the dog, do so from the corner of your eye.
Step
2
Avoid patting his head
When you pat a dog on the head, the dog can perceive this as a threat. Even happy, confident dogs may flinch when a hand is raised over their head. Avoid this in a submissive dog by rubbing his chin or stroking along his back.
Step
3
Never force a dog to face his fears
Never forcibly restrain the dog in order to have him face up to something he is fearful of. This is called "Flooding" and is extremely damaging to the dog. He may become so fearful that he freezes and is unable to respond. This gives the impression the dog has conquered his fear while the exact opposite is true and he is more fearful than ever.
Step
4
Avoid fussing the dog when he rolls over
If a submissive dog rolls over and you make a fuss of him, this inadvertently rewards him for showing submissive behavior. The dog then thinks this is the expected action when he sees you, which compounds the problem. Instead, ignore the dog and wait for him to come to you.
Step
5
Don't let guests reward fearful behavior
A mistake often made is to give guests treats, which they throw towards an anxious dog in order to attract him closer. If the dog is actively showing fear, there's a real risk the dog believes his fear is being rewarded and the behavior is reinforced. Instead, only reward the dog as he's moving toward the guest in a bold manner.
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The Ignore the Behavior Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
Submitting is a dog's way of saying he poses no threat, but is fearful and wishes to be left alone. Approaching a dog showing submissive behavior can result in ramping up the dog's anxiety, such that he may then urinate (or even snap at an extended hand). Instead, it is best to ignore the dog when he shows submissive behavior and wait for him to approach you. Then you can reward this bolder, more confident action.
Step
2
Know when to ignore the dog
A typical flash point is when you return home after being out for a while. Excited, the dog runs over to greet you but rolls over submissively and then urinates. Have a think about when the dog exhibits this type of behavior, so that you can work on ignoring it (hence, not inadvertently rewarding the submissive action).
Step
3
Acknowledge the dog in a calm, low-key manner
When you arrive home, the aim is to keep the dog calm. Greet him briefly in a calm, quiet voice so that he knows he's been acknowledged.
Step
4
Do not approach the dog
Walking over to the dog has the potential to intimidate a submissive individual. Instead of approaching the dog, sit down on floor level and wait for him to come to you. Reward him by tossing a treat or softly praising bold behavior.
Step
5
Keep things calm
Praise and reward bold behavior and ignore submissive actions. Likewise, pet your dog under the chin or along his back, as these areas are less likely to make him feel threatened or insecure.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Chloe
Siberian Husky
6 Months
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Question
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Chloe
Siberian Husky
6 Months

Any time my fiance trys to put her leash on and take her outside or tries to brush her she pees excessively. She use to do it any time he touched her. She doesnt any more but still in the other two cases and he is getting discouraged and frustrated.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hi Cassandra, Chloe might feel intimidated by the leash, brush, or your fiance reaching over to to access her collar. Reaching over a dog is a dominant act, and it's common for people to reach over their dogs to pet them or grab their collars. Being grabbed by the collar also feels a lot like being grabbed by the scruff of the neck to some puppies, so she might be acting submissive in response to what feels like a dominant action from him. Have him grab her as gently as possible and to reach under her chin instead of over her if he is not already. I would also advise him to work on getting her comfortable with the leash, brush, and being grabbed on the collar to build her confidence. Have him practice gently touching her collar with his hand, touching the leash to her, and touching the brush to her in different locations. Keep the touches very calm and minimal at first to prevent her from peeing, and gradually touch her more in those areas with those items as she improves. Very slowly up to brushing her on top of her head, on the back of the neck, and on her underbelly, since those are probably the hardest areas for her. Every time that he touches her with his hand, the leash, or brush while practicing with her, have him praise her in a calm and soft voice, and give her a treat. Giving her a treat every time that he touches her should help to build her confidence and remove some of the intimidation. Go slow at first, so that she does not pee even more when you do this. You also might want to start out by practicing this outside, in case she has any accidents during the training while learning. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Nanette
Brittany (Spaniel)
11 Months
2 found helpful
Question
2 found helpful
Nanette
Brittany (Spaniel)
11 Months

Everytime she meets up with other dogs she is too submissive and is always being barked at and chased without her doing nothing other than running away or rolling on ground. She never barks back so she isxalways bullied by other dogs, even smaller dogs than her and this is making our outings quite stressful.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Valentina, It sounds like Nanette is naturally very submissive. Since she is young, age is also part of the problem. To help build her confidence see if any of your friends have well socialized, friendly, easier going, more submissive dogs. Dogs that are more confident than Nanette but also submissive like her. Let her have a play date with one dog at a time. Whenever she becomes a little bit overwhelmed give the dogs a break and let them rest, then let her initiate the interaction again when she is ready. Moderate their play like you would with puppies. Be her advocate and set the rules for the interactions. Make sure that they are taking turns being on top and chasing during wrestling and chasing games, and giving each other breaks when one gets tired and is trying to take a break or get away, until both dogs show that they are ready to play again. As she plays with other, less pushy dogs, and learns how to interact with another dog properly, her confidence should grow. Age will also help with this if she continues to be around other dogs, as long as she is not being bullied. She should not be taken to the dog park when lots of dogs are there. She will just get bullied and the problem will get worse. If you go, only go when the dogs present are the type of dogs I described and the park is pretty empty. Bringing her to an obedience class, such as a CGC class, could help her get used to other dogs in a more structured setting. Praise her in a confident and excited tone of voice when she acts playful with another dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Cosmo
American Eskimo Dog
1 Year
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Question
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Cosmo
American Eskimo Dog
1 Year

Cosmo will urinate if her collar is grabbed without a leash in your hand and if she gets scared by us because she was abused in his last home. Any suggestions?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Aly, While you are at home to supervise, keep a drag leash without a handle on her, then when you need to lead her somewhere calmly step on the end of the leash, pick it up and lead her. Give her a treat for following you to help build her confidence. Also, if you have the option or the space practicing some confidence building exercises with her via agility type obstacles can be a great way to improve your relationship with a fearful dog. You can go somewhere with agility obstacles, buy a few obstacles, build your own out of things like PVC pipe and boards, or purchase it online. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OseD7TRwsPQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPxUXvWawpk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Finally, work on desensitizing her to touch in general. Use pup's daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of pup's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold her collar and give a treat. Touch her tail gently and give a treat. Touch her belly, her other paws, her chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Start with areas she is comfortable and work until she is used to those areas being touched, then gradually move onto areas she is less comfortable with as she improves. At first, you may want to practice in a calm area outside, that is safely enclosed, in case she pees. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Junie
Labrador Retriever
3 Years
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Question
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Junie
Labrador Retriever
3 Years

Submissive. Will not defend against another dog, and is jumpy if something falls or moves quickly. But has learned many tricks. Handles well otherwise. Is not aggressive . Loves everyone. But will not growl or deal with threats.. lays down.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Anna, Junie is likely more submissive by nature. When he is being bullied by other dogs, you need to defend her. Take charge, and tell the other dogs "Out" and firmly walk toward them until they leave the area. If they come right back, then repeat until they give up. Encourage your dog in an up beat, confident tone of voice when another dog approaches and she starts to get overly submissive. The tone of voice is important. You want to sound proud, happy, and very confident yourself. You do not want to sound frustrated or sympathetic or worried, but happy and up beat. When she feels like she can trust you to defend her and feeds off of your up beat energy that should help her with her own confidence. Practicing regular obedience training is also good for building confidence. She will likely always be a bit submissive and more skittish naturally. That can be a genetic trait but work on supporting her and building her trust for you so that she will look to you for help and not become overly afraid. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rogers
German Shepherd
17 Weeks
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Rogers
German Shepherd
17 Weeks

My 17 week old urinates at night when I call him to go to bed, or sometimes in the morning. Sometimes when I call him he doesn't move, he just stares at me. I call him a couples times, even in an upbeat mood, and he eventually comes but pees when he gets to me. It happens about every other day. Other than that, when we go outside he pulls on the leash and is constantly wanting to explore. When he sees other dogs, he gets super jumpy and barks at them to get their attention. When I tell him to calm down, he listens 9 times out of 10. Also, we have a 12 week old kitten, and he loves chasing her. She constantly attacks him and they wrestle a lot. But anytime I call him, he immediately stops and comes to me, no problems. He sits, lays down, comes to me, pees, poops, and stays on command. and he follows me EVERYWHERE, he is always at my hip. And he gets super excited whenever I get home and constantly wants to play, such as running with me, barking, or wrestling. I need him to be a service dog for my ptsd.. and I am really concerned he won't grow out of it. Especially since he is going to have to detect the stressful situation and diffuse it before I do something I regret and hurt someone else.... sorry if that's too much info

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Travis, In general it sounds like Rogers is doing very well and has a nice temperament. The submissive peeing is very normal for his age. The goal with submissive peeing is to prevent it as much as possible by managing his circumstances. Almost all dogs will grow out of it on their own by eighteen months of age if you can prevent them from developing a habit of it. To prevent him from peeing, attach a four to six-foot chew-proof leash or cord to him while you are at home to supervise him wearing it. VirChewLy and several other brands make chew-proof leashes that you can buy off of Amazon. They are made out of a thin flexible piece of wire covered with rubber. If he does not chew on leashes and you feel like he will leave it alone, then you can also purchase a normal check cord, which is a leash that does not have a handle and slides through the grass, and in your case carpet, well. When you need for him to come inside, go over to him and calmly pick up the end of the leash and start moving him toward his bed or outside. When he is doing better, then you can add a calm command if you want to, like "Let's Go". But when you say it, say it in a calm, pleasant tone of voice and not an angry or excited tone of voice. Do not grab the leash and wait for him to think about what's happening, simply pick up the leash and start walking in the direction that you want him to go, so that he will not have time to do anything else. It sounds like you already know this, but when you are dealing with submissive or excited peeing, try to ignore the dog for five minutes when you first get home or let him out of the crate, to let him calm down. An exception to this is if he needs to pee right away, in which case you can open the crate door and then begin walking toward the door to go outside while he follows you, without touching or talking to him. If he can hold it for five more minutes, then when you walk into the room and he is excited, wait five minutes to let him calm down, before letting him out of the crate. In general avoid touching a nervous or excited dog until he relaxes a bit. Do not lean over a dog who is about to pee. Do not reach toward him or raise your voice or act really excited if he is about to pee. Pay attention to when he normally has accidents when you interact with him. During those times, try to keep those interactions as plain and boring and peaceful as possible. Using a leash that has been attached to him ahead of time will make it possible for you to interact with your dog when he is struggling not to pee, without having to touch him, reach toward him, or lean over him. You do not have to interact with him on the leash or without touching him all of the time. Doing things such as practicing "Come" on a long leash with lots of excitement while outside are great. Touching him in general, when he is not as likely to pee, also very important. Simply avoid the excitement and touch and other triggers when he is likely to pee. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Gus
Goldendoodle
3 Years
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Question
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Gus
Goldendoodle
3 Years

My dog is submissive and terrified of my boy friend. He refuses treats from him and will roll to his back and sometimes pee himself when he is around. When in the same room he is constantly running to me and then running and hiding. How can I get my dog used to my boyfriend

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dana, First, it may be worth getting pup used to wearing a washable doggie diaper in the house, so that accidents while working on the following are less stressful, so that both you are your boy friend are more relaxed during training - which pup will pick up on and be more likely to be relaxed as well. Second, check out the article linked below and the section on shy dogs and humans. Have your boy friend practice things like ignoring pup while she is across the room and tossing treats to her without making eye contact or noise, whenever she isn't acting fearful of him. When she can handle being close to him, you can start to incorporate him into things like training and walks with you and her. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ Also, make sure he isn't yelling or roughhousing around her. Calm and confident is the attitude you both want to have around her. Don't comfort her when she acts scared and comes to you. Instead, act like it's no big deal and try to act upbeat and confident - the way you want her to feel right then. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Gucci
Dachshund
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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Gucci
Dachshund
1 Year

Me and my boyfriend rescued a dog from a shelter. I have experience with shelter dogs, however, i have no idea what to do or how to help Gucci. He pees when greeted, he pees when approached, He pees when you try to pick him up. He's not familiar with stairs and i live on the second floor, which makes it impossible to take him outside because no one wants to get peed on. He loves laying on the couch rather than his bed but whenever we try to remove him from the couch he pees all over it. we have tried treat methods and he doesn't care to eat the treats.We even tried the confidence exercises, but He's shown no improvement. It's to the point where he refuses to leave the cage to even eat. we have never scolded him and we have only raised our voices at him once and that was day one or two of having him and it was for potty training purposes. we have now had him for 2 months. Our couch is ruined from constant pee. Me and my boyfriend adore Gucci but its becoming unbearable. Please help!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Remi, First, purchase a Belly Band, which is a piece of fabric with velco or buttons that fits around a male dog's waist. You can either purchase disposable ones or washable ones and put feminine pads, belly band liners, or human incontinence pads inside the washable ones to catch urine. Purchase at least three (most come in packs). When you introduce the belly band, give him a treat for sniffing it, touching it, and Everytime you touch in to him. If he will not eat, then you may just have to put if on him as gently as you can without treats and leave it until he gets used to it - like you would when you introduce a puppy to a collar. Once the stress of him peeing all everyone is relieved with the belly bands you can work on getting him used to being handled. Find something that he loves like his dog food, liver paste, peanut butter, cheese, chicken, freeze dried meat treats, or anything else that is safe for dogs. If he loves his own dog food, then just use his meal kibble and feed him his entire meal everyone during the handling exercises I am about to go over. Get a tiny piece of the food he loves and gently touch him somewhere like his ear while feeding him a treat. Touch the other ear - feed a treat. Touch a paw - feed a treat. Touch his tail - feed a treat. Practice gently touching him all over his body, one area at a time, and feeding him a treat at the same time. When he does well with that, then put your hand on his abdomen and feed a treat, then lift him a few inches off the ground, feed a treat, and put him back down. Gradually increase how long you hold him for before putting him back down by just a couple of seconds as he improves. Since he will be wearing the belly band you shouldn't have to worry about getting accidently peed on. I also suggest having him evaluated by your vet to make sure there is not a hormonal imbalance leaving to his anxiety or that he is not in pain from an unaddressed medical issue from his previous home. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucy
Yorkie
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Lucy
Yorkie
4 Years

Will my yorkie ever grow out of submissive urination, she is almost 4 years old. She is housebroken, but when she gets excited she pees all over the place, she crouches and pees. We have tried ignoring her when we come in, never bending over her, alway petting her under her chin. She is very high strung. She was almost 2 when we got her so I don't know what she was treated like before we got her. We have tried meds, calming vests, etc. I am at my wits end. If I put diapers on her she throw herself into walls. I don't know what else to do.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Connie, Honestly at this point there is no guarantee that she will outgrow it. Most do, but a few never do. Hiring a trainer to help you address behavior may help though. First, have the trainer help you introduce the diaper to her and work her through that new change. Most dogs protest wearing one at first but can adjust - just like how many older dog's freak out when you first put a leash on them and have to be taught to relax and respond to it. Next, have the trainer help you work on her self-control and teach her how to relax better. Check out the videos linked below for some good exercises to work on with her, especially a long Place command. Crate exiting and manners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn5HTiryZN8 Heel command: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Place: https://youtu.be/omg5DVPWIWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Shaggy
Beagle terrier Mix
Four Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Shaggy
Beagle terrier Mix
Four Years

My in laws have a rescue who has been more of a headache than they imagined. He is extremely submissive and used to be very aggressive when he met new people. He had severe separation anxiety and would eliminate in the house without anyone being around. Since my wife and I introduced our well mannered dog to him, they have bonded and his aggressiveness is nonexistent. We have given him more structure and put him in his crate regularly, where before he never was in his crate (he is free of anxiety in his crate). I trained the three other dogs in the house and they are well behaved and obedient for the most part. But with the slightest leg lift or the drop of my hand to my side and shaggy tries to run away even if I am making these motions from the other side of the room.

Using 6 foot leads, I now walk him with two other dogs and he loves being outside with them, but he has always been very submissive when approached and sometimes when I put the leash on him. If I try to give him affection or approach him, he squats immediately, and more times than not, he rolls on his side to be pet on the belly. He won’t take treats from me either: chicken was a suggestion from a friend but I haven’t tried it.

When I first took him on walks he was a little overwhelmed but took to it ok. But he would always lay down whenever we stopped for the shortest period of time and get soaking wet. I taught him to stay up when we are walking on the leash and he does stay up more now. My biggest issue is when we go out without leashes. We live on a 30+ acre farm and he along with two other dogs are always loose without any problems and always come back. However, when I try to take him and the other dogs out without leashes, he shakes uncontrollably and refuses to eliminate. He will often just run back to the door and wait for me to return.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ward, First of all, great job thus far. It sounds like you have worked hard and he has made huge improvements. The use of a crate and added structure is great and something he likely strongly needs in general to feel secure. To get him used to pottying without the leash, use a long training leash, 20' - 50' foot long (not retractable but the type used for training and hunting). Coil most of it up so that he is given about 15 feet of length to start with (and you aren't tripping over the extra). You can play with length too to decide how much to give depending on how he responds (less is easier, more should be harder). Take him out on that leash like you would a regular leash while your other dogs are also outside off leash in that area (if it's safe to do so in that area). Let your other dogs wander around where you can see them and reward them anytime they choose to periodically checking in with you on their own, then send them out again. A couple of things should happen here, first, he will see the other dogs free and happy and exploring and checking in with you automatically. This can give him a bit of guidance on what to do while off leash since he is a dog who needs to be told how to be and what to do to feel okay. If any of your other dogs goes potty, praise them for it as well. Second, the long leash will keep him from running back to the house but still give him enough space to explore and venture out when he chooses to. At first, give him time to warm up and get used to being outside in this new way. If he wants to stay by the door, that's alright the first time you practice this. After you have simply spend some time with him outside during several sessions though, if he is not venturing out a bit by this point, then give little leash pops (not continuous tugs but quick little pulls over and over to add a little pressure without causing him to fight the leash...this should look like tug, then slack, tug, then slack, tug, then slack, over and over). As soon as he steps forward a bit to escape the discomfort of the annoying little pops, praise him in a calm but happy tone of voice and let the leash become slack again as a reward for coming forward. Now, that new location where he just walked to is where he is expected to be able to start from from here on out, and not the door. You will work him further from that spot gradually too, and gradually require him to come further and further once he sees that he can handle those few feet. Practice this protocol until he will simply follow you outside without having to give leash pops, to the areas where the dogs normally go potty. The end goal is for him to join the other dogs sniffing around, looking for a spot to go potty. When you take him potty on the normal leash or the long leash, tell him to "Go Potty". If he does go potty, praise him and try dropping a bit of chicken for him (so that you don't have to reach toward or bend over him to give it). He is more likely to take the food while on the 6 foot leash and less stressed at first; do this every time he goes potty. Later, when he is comfortable being outside to go potty without a leash, you can tell him to "Go Potty" so that he understands what to do while off leash. Don't expect him to go potty on the long leash right away. He will need to get over his fear of being off the leash for it first. As he improves give him more and more slack in the leash so that he is less dependent on it's pressure to know what to do. Use the Go Potty command once he has learned that from going potty after hearing that command before - this will give him some structure and a task to focus on, which also might help with his nervousness. Once he is more relaxed outside and has learned what Go Potty means, then he is more likely to pee when you take him off leash. A nervous dog doesn't like to pee or poop because it feels vulnerable so addressing the nervousness can help. Expect this to be gradual progression, you want to apply just enough pressure during training that he is challenged to do something different than what he currently does to cope (run home) but not so much that he shuts down. As he gets better you can push just a bit more and expect more of him. If he will take chicken you can reward with chicken when he makes effort at joining in. Make sure that his collar or harness won't slip off if he starts bucking on the leash (which might happen, simply stay calm and wait until he calms back down, the continue your training, helping him work through his fear). Check out the video below of a trainer who specializes in fearful, aggressive, and reactive dogs working a dog through the place command use a bit of pressure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AivnQUnTy2s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Coco
chihuahua mix
7 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Coco
chihuahua mix
7 Months

We rescued coco when he was 6 weeks old. We've potty trained, kennel trained and trained hin commands. He is a super smart dog but he submissive pees EVERYWHERE. When we call his name, when we walk in the door, when he's happy, when he's in trouble. He gets on his back and pees all over himself. No matter where he is. How in the world do we get him to stop doing this and what are we doing wrong?!HELP!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stevie, Many puppies are submissive pee-ers, and it can also be genetic. The majority of dogs will outgrow it with age if you try to keep things calmer during times when you know the dog is most prone to it. Some dogs are genetically prone to it and could always be prone to it. Either way you can minimize it by keeping a drag leash on him while you are home, so that when you need him you can calmly walk up to the leash, pick it up, and lead him where he needs to go instead of touching him each time - which usually means a pee. When talking to him keep praise soft and calm sounding, and give commands in even tones. Reprimands should also be calm, serious but very calm and not angry sounding. Work on getting him used to being handled more - practice this somewhere outside. Use his meal kibble as rewards - touch areas of his body and give a treat. Touch ears and give a treat, paws and give a treat, tail and give a treat, ect... Take him places and practice things like tricks and going over obstacles to help build confidence. When you first come home, ignore him for ten minutes unless you know he is desperate to go potty. You want to make entrances super boring to bring his anticipation of excitement down to help him control himself better. Finally, to help keep your home clean while you are working on the submissive peeing still, you can also have him wear a belly hand, which is like a male dog diaper that just goes around the waist, to catch urine to keep it off floors when he does struggle. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bela
Mutt
2 Years
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Bela
Mutt
2 Years

My family's dog Bela is amazingly friendly, everyone around us, human or not, feels like they are Bela's best friend. However, my sister's dog, a shitzu, comes often to our house to visit or to spend a few days, and he harasses her all the time. He barks to her face non-stop, protects her own food from her, tries to mount her, chases her around aggressively. And he is not being playful. As she is so sweet, she just stands there, taking it all... but she is a very sensitive and nervous dog, she had epilepsy when she was little because she was abandoned outside in the cold weather. The vet said she had lost a lot of weight, had some nasty wounds all over her, was on antibiotics and overall a bad shape, because she was anxious with the other dog. We can't really tell my sister not to bring her dog as he would be left alone for too long otherwise... I took great care of her, she is doing better now, as I defend her from him, I try and act like a pack leader for her... but I would really like to teach her to defend herself from him... specially when I am not around and can't defend her. She is stronger and bigger than him, she could totally defend herself if she had a single aggressive bone in her. Can you help?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nicole, You can't encourage her to take up for herself without also encouraging aggression, but you can work on manners with the other dog and teaching her to look to you for help - which could increase her confidence in the long run by stopping the cycle of fear. If your sister is willing work on a few commands with the dog, especially Place, and have both dogs - especially your sister's dog stay on place while at your house unless you are specifically focusing on and working with the dogs. Reward your dog for being calm and in a good mindset around your sister's dog to help boost confidence, and reward your sister's dog for being calm and leaving your pup alone. When you reward, keep it super calm and give the treat on the floor between their paws so they learn to stay where they are if lying down. Try to be sneaky about rewards so the other dog doesn't rush over to get one too. Decide what your house rules are for both dogs and you be the one to enforce the rules instead of the dogs. No aggression, no pushiness, no stealing toys, no stealing food, no being possessive of people or things, or any other unwanted behavior - if one dog is causing a problem, you be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs are NOT working it out themselves. For example, if your sister's dog comes over to your dog when she is trying to sleep, tell pup Out. If he obeys, praise and reward him. If he disobeys, stand in front of your dog, blocking your sister's dog from getting to her, and walk toward your sister's dog calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your dog. If the Shitzu growls at your pup, make her leave the room while also addressing your dog if needed. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of your dog - you want her to learn to look to you when there is a problem, and for the Shitzu to learn respect for your dog because you have taught it to him and not because your dog has had to resort to aggression. Teach the dog - Especially the Shitzu the Out command using the How to Teach the Out Command section of the article linked below. Once he knows the command, then enforce the command using the method from the How to use out to deal with pushiness section of the article - using out this way "claims" your dog in a dog's world - so that the other dog learns to respect your dog because of his respect for you and your "ownership" of the other dog and not because your dog has to earn his respect. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Feed both dogs in separate locked crates. Not only will this prevent fights and food getting eaten by the other dog - it also removes the stress of eating with another dog hovering nearby, and less stress is better for digestion and prevents food aggression and resource guarding from developing. The dogs absolutely need to be kept separate when you are home not. Leaving them alone together puts unnecessary stress on your dog and teaches the other dog to bully by giving him opportunities to practice it without anyone intervening. When the Shitzu has learned better manners they may be able to be free together but they are not there yet and it will take time to get there, so they really need to be crated or at least confined in separate rooms to prevent fear in your dog, bullying behavior in the Shitzu, and unnecessary stress. Finally, if your sister is willing (this is up to her) you can correct the continuous humping and following with a Pet Convincer. Tell her dog Out and use your body language to walk her out of the area like the Out article mentions. If after three times of doing this, the Shitzu keeps returning to your dog, when her dog starts to fixate on your dog, use a Pet Convincer -which is a small canister of unscented pressurized are, to spray a quick puff of air at her dog's side (not face) to snap him out of it and make fixating less fun. The air shouldn't hurt but it should get his attention enough for him to snap out of fixating. Reward for calmly co-existing in the same room together to help dogs continue to like each other and associate the corrections with their behavior and not the other dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Pudding
Mutt
6 Months
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Pudding
Mutt
6 Months

She seems like a happy pup and is very comfortable with us, playful all the time. When we take her for walks, she runs up to other dogs and flops on her back immediately, but once they sniff her, she'll start playing with them in an equal fashion. With humans, she used to run up and flop on her back - but now she is becoming skittish and won't approach them at all. She looks at them like she's very excited, wags her tail, gets down on her belly and moves towards them, but then when they move to her she runs off. If they are very patient and make contact, she's then all over them, licking and playing. We've been trying to expose her to more humans and having them be patient with her (she's totally fine with the many people she knows and has already accepted), but any other thoughts on how to prevent her from getting to nervous when a human just wants to pet her? She loves it once she finally lets it happen. Thanks!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexandra, Some puppies are especially shy or submissive. First, see if you can recruit lots of friends or family members she doesn't already know. Go on a walk with them, with them starting from across the street, passing a few times until she is relaxed around them, then walking in your same direction. As pup gets more comfortable with them being around, have them walk next to you and casually pass the leash off to them. Walk with them for a bit, then let them continue walking without you, passing you occasionally. When pup does well, they can gently hand her an easy to eat, small treat while they are still moving, after some walking and passing you, begin walking all together again. Practice this with as many different people as possible. You want pup to bond with people via going on a walk with them, make the interaction very casual and not touchy or in her face. Second, work on desensitizing her to being touched and handled. First, use her daily meal kibble. At as many meals as you can, practice gently touching her in an area while giving a treat. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Touch a tail and give a treat. Touch her belly and give a treat. Practice this with every area of her body. When he enjoys you doing this with her and acts confident about it, have someone she is comfortable with also practice. As she improves, gradually have more and more people do it with her, starting with people she is comfortable with and gradually progressing to those she doesn't know well. The touches should always be gentle and paired with the food. Less noise during it will be easier for her if she is struggling. Finally, have new people you have recruited to help simply sit on the floor, couch, bench, ect... and sprinkle treat all around them, some treats closer to the person and some further away. Have them ignore her while she eats the treats and investigates. Don't have them pet her unless she asks to be petted. Practice this with lots of people with touching unless she asks to be petted. The goal here is to get her comfortable around people with to remove some of the anticipation of always being touched and the person acting exciting, so she can simply get comfortable approaching. Once she isn't building anxiety while trying to approach it will be easier for her to stay calm when there is touch involved - no prebuilding of anxiety. Continue socializing her even though its harder right now. Many puppies go through several fear periods - where they need extra careful exposure, a boost in confidence, and patience to help them through it. With the right training they often relax more after the fear period (if they aren't isolated or traumatized during it). She could be in one of those periods right now - but either way the training would be the same. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Hanna
Labrador Retriever
18 Months
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Hanna
Labrador Retriever
18 Months

My chocolate lab is extremely shy,submissive and just downright afraid of me.this behavior is only during the day.in the early morning and late evening she is totally normal. It's almost like she is light sensitive or what?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michael, I actually suggest speaking with your vet. Certain hormones rise and fall during different parts of the day and that could be potentially related. (I am not a vet). Also, pay attention to what else changes during the day. Are there noises or other stimuli/people/dogs that change during the day...such as loud construction noises midday, another person who arrives or leaves, ect...if there is an additional stresser during the daytime that could spill over into her interactions with you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Chloe
german shepherd and border collie mix
2 Years
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Chloe
german shepherd and border collie mix
2 Years

Hello, I rescued my dog Chloe from the pound a year ago and she is very submissive. She pees on the floor every time she thinks she is in trouble and almost every time myself or my boyfriend greets her. She also has very bad seperation anxiety and will chew on things if I am not around all the time. I think she is doing all of it to get any kind of attention but she goes through spells of being really submissive and then being perfectly fine. When I get home I let her outside and don't pet her till she pees and we do not yell at her or punish her for chewing on things. I am at a loss on what to do.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Victoria, I suggest keeping a drag leash on him, such as VirChewLy - which is less likely to tangle on things. When you need to go get her or take her outside, calmly walk over to her, pick up the leash, and lead her where you need to go - you can try giving her instructional commands when you do this, such as Let's Go, Leave It, or something else that gives calm and upbeat sounding direction. Use the leash to make interactions with her even more even-toned to further help her get out of habit of peeing so often to begin with - avoiding most of the scenarios that cause the peeing. While using the leash to give her directions, also work on confidence building and structure. Use her daily kibble to practice handling exercises. Touch her somewhere while giving her a treat. Touch her side - give a treat. Touch her paw - give a treat. Touch her collar - give a treat. Touch her tail - give a treat. Repeat this with every area of her body, being more gentle and focusing more time on areas she seems less comfortable with. Do this to get her to help build her confidence and desensitize her to touch more. Second, do something with her to build her confidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OseD7TRwsPQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPxUXvWawpk To keep your home clean while you are still working on this you can also have her wear a doggie diaper. Work on commands that increase calmness and impulse control. Keep your tone of voice very calm while doing this. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Working method and Consistency method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Place - work up to a 1 hour place gradually: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Separation anxiety - work on crate training and boundaries. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Atlas
German Shepherd
10 Months
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Atlas
German Shepherd
10 Months

Hello! I am trying to figure out what to do with socialization of other dogs. He does not seem afraid of other dogs as he approaches them with ease (in fact he wants to approach them) I simply wanna ask how I can get him to stand his ground. He will immediately go up to the dog duck down and lick the chin of the dog. Sometimes when a dog is bothering him he will stay silent.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Blair, At his age, his submissive response is often helping him avoid a fight. As he gains more experience around other dogs and matures mentally he will likely learn to hold his own more with age. Starting off as more submissive is better than displaying too much dominance so young. Because he is submissive and could get picked on by other dogs at times it will be your job to manage interactions for him. Calmly shooing other dogs away and leading him to another area when a dog is pestering him - when its safe to do so, or requesting that that dog's owner call their dog back so that you can lead your pup away. It may seem counter intuitive, but advocating for your dog and showing him that he can depend on you to take charge can build his confidence, help with social skills for him, and lead to a dog who can calmly handle interactions with other dogs without fear aggression from him having to be too pushy or aggressive to deal with it on his own early on. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Also to note he is very obedient and off leash trained/E-collar trained.

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Auggie
Labrador Retriever
One Year
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Auggie
Labrador Retriever
One Year

We got our lab at 5 months and he is very obedient. He will not push open partially open doors. He will not touch my daughter's snack left in a bowl on the floor. He is very submissive and has a submissive grin. In the picture he is about to go to the dog park and my niece who takes him just arrived. He is very happy and wagging his tail. He has a training collar on because when we take him it is quite large and he responds to the beep if he gets too far out of sight. He is usually the dog getting humped by other dogs. Sometimes he is afraid of people but usually only large men. He is very submissive around my husband but always approaches him for pets. Do you have any suggestions on increasing his confidence? He is a great dog with our three kids and like I said very obedient. He just seems so sensitive and submissive, I worry he experienced trauma in the 5 months before we got him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Heather, Practicing tricks and games that require the dog to overcome new things and have fun - such as agility obstacles are good ways to build confidence in a dog. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPxUXvWawpk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OseD7TRwsPQ Around other dogs, always advocate for your dog and don't expect him to be able to stick up for himself. If you advocate for him and help him feel like he can trust you - as he approaches 3 years old his confidence around other dogs may naturally increase - as long as trauma and fights with other dogs don't lead to fear aggression. Allowing him to be bullied can lead to fear aggression - which isn't the type of confidence you want. Encourage him to come to another part of the park if he is being pestered, gently shoo other dogs who won't take no for an answer away, leave the park when the wrong type of dogs for him are there, or don't go to the dog park with him at all. Instead, look for local dog walking and hiking groups, join a canine sport with him, have play dates with friends' well behaved dogs who are more his speed, or go through classes with him. Whatever you do, if your attitude is calm and confident in those situations that will also help him. Socialization that involves learning new things and a more structured environment is the ideal socialization for most dogs but especially more timid dogs - if you do take him to the park just be sure to advocate for him so that he feels he can trust you and isn't too overwhelmed. Pay attention to which groups are at the park when also - so that you are going at less busy times when some of his calmer buddies are there to keep interactions with other dogs pleasant, and to avoid bullies. Timidity can be genetic so he could have something from his past but it also might be related to a lack of early socialization or his natural personality - which can be helped by advocating for him and things like agility and trick training to boost confidence. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Fido
German Shepherd
8 Months
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Fido
German Shepherd
8 Months

My dog is too submissive not only to be but also to others at home and stray dogs and few items like suitcase(basically things with wheels). He gets scared and hide behind me or urinates a lot. What can I do to help him built his confidence? As I brought him to be a guard I don’t mind if he is emotional I love him the way he is but I just want him to be confident.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Richa, I would look into joining a canine agility course with pup. The socialization and overcoming new obstacles while working closely with you, is often a good confidence builder for pup. The class specifically has the benefit of socialization, but if that's not a safe option for you right now, I suggest purchasing or building a few obstacles yourself and having that be a fun activity that you do with pup - teaching them to overcome each individual obstacle using treat or toy rewards, then to do certain patterns and series of obstacles in a row. General structured obedience using lure reward training, like heel, come, and distance sit and down stays, and trick training that involves learning new things with you and overcoming things, can also help. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Foster
German Shepherd
2 Years
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Foster
German Shepherd
2 Years

We took a German Shepherd from the shelter almost 2 weeks ago. She was picked up as a stray so no background information available. She has heartworms, giardia and a respiratory infection. She is also super submissive and scared. Text messages on my phone makes her crouch and seek cover. She is a submissive pee'er. She tends to seek small enclosed parts of the house, like under a desk or the laundry room. She is not motivated by treats, but that may be because of her health issues, as she does not really eat much. She also needs to be confined to her crate most of the time while undergoing heartworm treatment. How do we build her confidence when she is out in the rest of the house with us and not stress her out, making her sicker than she already is?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. It is very nice of you to care so much and to be looking out for Foster's best interests. Remember, any positive reinforcement training or encouragement is good for her, but patience is key. What she suffered over the past two years cannot be undone overnight. I suggest that you take Foster on plenty of walks (if the vet approves due to the heartworm) but don't worry about going far at first if it is going to stress her out. Take her where she feels comfortable so that she can gain confidence. Make sure that she is on a healthy diet that will enable her to get strong. Talk quietly and gently when speaking to her and use a cheerful voice. Make sure that Foster knows you are there for her whenever she needs you. Make her crate a safe and welcome place that she loves to go in, with a comfy bed and toys. Once she feels completely safe with you, then you can take her places where there will be other calm dogs and people, but only after she feels entirely at ease. I expect the submissive peeing will cease once she feels more relaxed. Seeing a canine behaviorist that specializes in rescues that have anxiety and fear would be a good idea, too. All the best to you and Foster.

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Rutabaga
Lancashire Heeler
4 Years
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Rutabaga
Lancashire Heeler
4 Years

Thank you for all your insight! We've been trying your techniques unfortunately, with little success. Our dog is fine with me (female) but extremely submissive to my boyfriend when they're alone. To the point of crawling, flipping to her belly, and not moving. Usually urinating as well. He's never raised his voice or scolded her so we're sure it's from her past life before we adopted her a month ago. It's only one-on-one time with him that she freezes up. She won't even accept treats! She is jumpy and happy when I'm around and doesn't act nearly as submissive to my boyfriend when I'm present. Is this something she might grow out of, being in a new home? How do we build her confidence with my boyfriend?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. I think because cute little Rutabaga is fine with your boyfriend when you are around means that she will most likely grow out of it. Have your boyfriend sit on the ground at her level and offer her treats when you are around. Have him even throw them to her at a distance and then move the treats closer and closer at each session. Do this often - it may take time. You both seem to be doing the right thing, and giving her space when she needs it is a good thing. Walk Rutabaga together and have your boyfriend be the one holding the leash. Then, after a few times together, have your boyfriend be the only one to take her on walks until she feels more comfortable. She'll know that he brings fun activities into her life. Have him be the one to feed her at mealtime as well. Obedience classes (reward-based and positive reinforcement) will do wonders for Rutabaga, giving her the confidence she needs. She'll learn how to be independent and also, the socialization is great! Good luck and happy training!

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Henry
Golden Retriever
13 Weeks
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Henry
Golden Retriever
13 Weeks

I've had my puppy since he was 5 weeks old. He's met most of the dogs in my apartment complex. He has always had a submissive approach towards other dogs but is fine with people. At first I thought he just didn't know what to do, but it hasn't gotten any better with more exposure to dogs. He also seems to be afraid of new places and going on walks down the street. He only submissive pees towards other dogs and never in the house or with people. What should I do to correct this behavior before it's too late?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. Do you have a friend with a dog? Try letting Henry get familiar with this dog first, to the point of being buddies. Then make friends with a second dog, and a third. One on one may be the way to go to start. Afterward, you can have Henry in a gang of pups and saw what happens. Is the fear of going new places and on walks a new thing? I suggest a vet checkup just to be sure there is no medical reason for the problem. The Exposure Method here may be good to try: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-be-scared. Go slowly and if Henry does not improve after these careful approaches, ask the vet for a referral to a behaviorist. A specialist may be able to solve the problem quickly, and save you issues that are hard to deal with later. All the best with your pup!

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Nillie
Lab mix pit
6 Months
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Nillie
Lab mix pit
6 Months

My girl dog keep throwing her self when my brothers dog comes over and she lets him do whatever he wants how can I stop that

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Very cute! Firstly, your brother's dog should be instructed to not dominate Nillie. She is young and has yet to gain confidence. I would have her play with friends' dogs (calm ones) so that she can learn to assert herself but in regular normal play, not trying to defend herself from assertion. If the only canine interaction she has results in her feeling intimidated, the problem will only get worse. Also, enroll her in obedience classes - it is the ideal way for a dog to gain confidence and that is what she needs. Take a look here as well: https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-being-fearful All the best to Nillie!

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Lily
Miniature Schnauzer
6 Years
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Lily
Miniature Schnauzer
6 Years

Our son brings brings his 8 month old female miniature schnauzer over and our dog cowers, submissive, won’t bark, play, or Interact, she will jump up the couch and turn her head into the pillow. My son’s dog is energetic and super playful and will jump on our dog. We separated them and put our dog in her kennel. We stopped the other dog from jumping on her.
Interesting, when we walk our dog, she will approach other dogs, and even bark at them at times, but with our son’s dog she shows submissive, cowering behaviors.
We tried them both outside and keep the puppy leashed, and our dog wants nothing to do with the puppy. We took them on a walk, and our dog laced down and wouldn’t move.
We could use assistance. Thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ann, First, check out the Passing Approach and Walking Together methods. I suggest beginning by walking them together but on opposite sides of the street, on opposing sidewalks. As Lily seems relaxed and happy during the walk, gradually decrease the distance between them, while at the same time looking for waiting until your son's dog is calm and being respectful toward their handler to decrease the distance for him. The goal here is for Lily to feel relaxed, happy and confident in the other dog's presence - from a distance, and for your son's dog to get into a more respectful, calmer mindset with Lily in the distance. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Keep the dogs separate at home while working on this - crating the visiting dog especially, or letting them take turns being crated vs. free, but Lily not being the only one crated the entire time if an option. Once the dogs can go on a calm walk together and feel happy/Lily and calm/new dog around each other, teach both dogs the Place command and practice having both stay on separate Place bed on opposite ends of the room, give both a dog food stuffed chew toy to enjoy on their own beds. For the new dog you may need to use back tie leashes to ensure they don't leave Place if they are pretty excitable. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Once both dogs can handle ignoring each other and co-existing calmly, teach both directional commands - especially the more excitable dog, such as Out, Leave It, and Down. Use those commands to teach the new dog to give Lily space. Don't baby Lily. Instead act confident and happy around her, advocate for her around the new dog - with you being the one to make and enforce rules like no jumping, stealing toys, bothering her when she wants to be left alone, being pushy, ect...so she doesn't have to hide or even defend herself. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Reward Lily without the other dog seeing, when the other dog first enters the room and whenever you catch Lily being tolerant and relaxed around the other dog - to make the dog's appearance more pleasant. Again, give clear boundaries for everyone, don't pet, sweet talk or otherwise feel sorry for Lily when she is acting fearful; instead, encourage confidence and advocate for her - so that she can more easily mirror your reactions, instead of getting attention for an unwanted reaction. When you can't directly supervise the dog's together, crate or use an exercise pen to keep them apart so the new dog doesn't bully or overwhelm her, but do work on her tolerance through heeling and Place when you can be there to supervise and work her through her worries. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Begbie
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
5 Months
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Begbie
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
5 Months

Hi, Our dog is high energy little boy, and very submissive around other dogs. Loves people, but can be very timid around other dogs. When we go to a dog park and let him off lead, he will run around and try to approach every dog, but immediately lower his head and act timid, often rolling on his back, or often trying to lick their faces and chase them around in circles trying to lick there face. If a dog approaches him, he will generally submit and look like he is timid. Often his tail is lowered and tucked.
What can i do to help my dog calm down abit, and act a little more boldly around dogs.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
87 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! He is still young and learning where he fits into the world. You are off to a great start with taking him to the dog park! As many interactions as he can have out in the real world will speed this process along. There are several methods you can use to improve your submissive dog´s confidence. 1. Work on obedience training. Daily obedience work, even when it is only for a short time, provides submissive dogs with a lot of confidence. Family members are proud of dogs that perform on command and dogs pick up on this feeling. If the obedience training is harsh, though, a submissive dog will just get worse. Find a positive reinforcement and reward-based training class in your area. If the trainer works with a discipline-based system, it is not appropriate for a submissive dog. 2. Socialize your dog as much as possible to make them adaptable. The sensitive socialization period for your dog ended when she was a puppy, about 15 weeks of age, but she can still be socialized as an older dog, it is just going to take a lot more work. To socialize your dog, take her out as much as possible, let her meet new people, let her meet your friends dogs (if they are friendly with other dogs), and let her run free at the dog park so that she will meet new dogs. (Some dogs will be too nervous to play at the dog park so this phase may only come later.) 3. Give your dog a job or get him involved in a canine sport. If your dog is a herder and you have livestock, it is likely that he will be so busy that he will not have time to develop overly submissive behavior. Most dogs are not able to work, however, so in order to give them an activity to build their confidence, it is a good idea to get them involved in one of the canine sports. Flyball, agility, Frisbee, dock diving, and other activities may be available in your area. 4. Use counter-conditioning techniques to help him overcome fear. This is the best but also the hardest (for you!) of the methods available to treat a submissive dog. For each thing that your dog is afraid of, you have to train him to have a pleasant feeling. When a dog is no longer afraid of the situation, he is confident and no longer going to be submissive. If you decide to try to build his confidence through counter-conditioning, the first thing you have to identify is the trigger. What is stimulating your dog to be so submissive? If he is only afraid of one thing it is easier to train him; unfortunately, most submissive dogs are afraid of almost everything. Spend some time with your dog to become familiar with his fears. The next step is to teach him that the scary thing is actually a good thing. When he is exposed to the scary object, give him a tasty treat and let him relax around the object without any pressure. The final step in counter-conditioning your dog to face his fears is to expose him and not provide a treat or even notice that he is being exposed. If you need more help on using counter-conditioning, the animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell has a book that I have found to be useful. The techniques are great and will help your dog develop confidence but as with most behavior modification, takes patience and persistence. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Cricket
American English Coonhound
2 Years
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Cricket
American English Coonhound
2 Years

Extremely submissive minus the peeing she exhibits all signs of of possible abuse I took her in from a friend who had bought her from original owner only to relize she wasn't what he was looking for so instead of leting her go to the pound I took her in but would realy like to help her become confident and proud again

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
87 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! That is so great of you to take her in and want to help her. This is a multi-fold process, and a lot of it has to do with trust, which will come in time as she settles in with you. But in the mean time, ss many positive interactions as she can have out in the real world will speed this process along. I am going to give you some tips that are a good place to start. It is likely her behaviors will start to resolve themselves over the next few months. So patience is key! There are several methods you can use to improve your submissive dog´s confidence. 1. Work on obedience training. Daily obedience work, even when it is only for a short time, provides submissive dogs with a lot of confidence. Family members are proud of dogs that perform on command and dogs pick up on this feeling. If the obedience training is harsh, though, a submissive dog will just get worse. Find a positive reinforcement and reward-based training class in your area. If the trainer works with a discipline-based system, it is not appropriate for a submissive dog. 2. Socialize your dog as much as possible to make them adaptable. The sensitive socialization period for your dog ended when she was a puppy, about 15 weeks of age, but she can still be socialized as an older dog, it is just going to take a lot more work. To socialize your dog, take her out as much as possible, let her meet new people, let her meet your friends dogs (if they are friendly with other dogs), and let her run free at the dog park so that she will meet new dogs. (Some dogs will be too nervous to play at the dog park so this phase may only come later.) 3. Give your dog a job or get her involved in a canine sport. Most dogs are not able to "work", however, so in order to give them an activity to build their confidence, it is a good idea to get them involved in one of the canine sports. Flyball, agility, Frisbee, dock diving, and other activities may be available in your area. 4. Use counter-conditioning techniques to help her overcome fear. This is the best but also the hardest (for you!) of the methods available to treat a submissive dog. For each thing that your dog is afraid of, you have to train her to have a pleasant feeling. When a dog is no longer afraid of the situation, he is confident and no longer going to be submissive. If you decide to try to build her confidence through counter-conditioning, the first thing you have to identify is the trigger. What is stimulating your dog to be so submissive? If she is only afraid of one thing it is easier to train her; unfortunately, most submissive dogs are afraid of almost everything. Spend some time with your dog to become familiar with her fears. The next step is to teach him that the scary thing is actually a good thing. When she is exposed to the scary object, give her a tasty treat and let her relax around the object without any pressure. The final step in counter-conditioning your dog to face her fears is to expose her and not provide a treat or even notice that he is being exposed. If you need more help on using counter-conditioning, the animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell has a book that I have found to be useful. The techniques are great and will help your dog develop confidence but as with most behavior modification, takes patience and persistence. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Daisy
Mutt
5 Months
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Daisy
Mutt
5 Months

Daisy is a rescue puppy. We got her in April. She is extremely submissive. She pees and rolls over every time she gets food or anytime we have to reprimand her. It seems like she has been abused, but never by us, and she was so tiny when we got her. We want her to be happy and not afraid of us.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
87 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Daisy sounds like a sweetheart. I am going to send you some information on how to help her become more confident. Luckily she is young enough, that this may not take longer than a few months. Stick with the tips below over the next few months. You may see some initial improvement in the beginning, and nothing else for a while. That is fairly normal. You should see some great progress around the 45 day mark. There are several methods you can use to improve your submissive dog´s confidence. 1. Work on obedience training. Daily obedience work, even when it is only for a short time, provides submissive dogs with a lot of confidence. Family members are proud of dogs that perform on command and dogs pick up on this feeling. If the obedience training is harsh, though, a submissive dog will just get worse. Find a positive reinforcement and reward-based training class in your area, or you can do a google search of how to teach basic commands. If the trainer or any articles you find works with a discipline-based system, it is not appropriate for a submissive dog. 2. Socialize your dog as much as possible to make them adaptable. The sensitive socialization period for your dog ended when she was a puppy, about 15 weeks of age, but she can still be socialized as an older dog, it is just going to take a lot more work. To socialize your dog, take her out as much as possible, let her meet new people, let her meet your friends dogs (if they are friendly with other dogs), and let her run free at the dog park so that she will meet new dogs. (Some dogs will be too nervous to play at the dog park so this phase may only come later.) 3. Give your dog a job or get her involved in a canine sport. If your dog is a herder and you have livestock, it is likely that he will be so busy that she will not have time to develop overly submissive behavior. Most dogs are not able to work, however, so in order to give them an activity to build their confidence, it is a good idea to get them involved in one of the canine sports. Flyball, agility, Frisbee, dock diving, and other activities may be available in your area. 4. Use counter-conditioning techniques to help her overcome fear. This is the best but also the hardest (for you!) of the methods available to treat a submissive dog. For each thing that your dog is afraid of, you have to train her to have a pleasant feeling. When a dog is no longer afraid of the situation, she is confident and no longer going to be submissive. If you decide to try to build her confidence through counter-conditioning, the first thing you have to identify is the trigger. What is stimulating your dog to be so submissive? If she is only afraid of one thing it is easier to train her; unfortunately, most submissive dogs are afraid of almost everything. Spend some time with your dog to become familiar with her fears. The next step is to teach her that the scary thing is actually a good thing. When she is exposed to the scary object, give her a tasty treat and let him relax around the object without any pressure. While time consuming, this is the best route to go to build confidence. They quickly associate that trigger with something positive (treats!) and they start to overcome their fears. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Emma
Labrador Retriever
10 Years
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Emma
Labrador Retriever
10 Years

Hi, my dog doesn't socialize with other dogs at all. She would ignore them, but if there is another dog her size approaching her she would be really scared (hiding between my legs, the fur on her back would all stand up). She will always be scared of new things that come into the house that makes a noise such as new fridges. My family recently just got a new cat. The cat hisses at her a couple times and now she is really afraid of the cat. After we renovated the kitchen, she suddenly become scared of the furnace vent which she was always okay with. She is also scared of the dish washer, washer machine, and the hardwood floor. She is very smart and friendly, but she seems to be scared of every little things. She is my first dog so I wonder if I had made mistakes when training her because she was very brave and full of excitement when she was a puppy. I hope there are ways to get her become more confident.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
87 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Have you had her vision checked? I don't want to make any assumptions, and I am also not a medical professional. But in cases where you have a dog who becomes fearful over time (I am also considering her age) it can be because of a loss of hearing or vision. If all of that checks out, there are many things you can do to build her confidence back up. To build your dog’s confidence in a more general way, provide her with enrichment activities and relationship-based training. Simply feeding your dog via food puzzles and getting her involved in nose work (which, by the way, is fun for both dogs and their people) can make her more confident. Training your dog using positive reinforcement teaches him that making decisions and engaging with you and the environment earns him good things, like treats and praise. After all, the more positive experiences your dog has, the more eager she will be for new adventures and the fun that they are sure to bring. Simply spending 5-10 minutes per day, going over training commands she knows is a great stepping stone into re-building confidence.

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Kya
Miniature Australian Shepherd
9 Months
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Kya
Miniature Australian Shepherd
9 Months

Why is my dog so submissive with other dogs?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
87 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. That is something I have noticed with Australian Shepherds. They are working breeds, and I feel they need a little extra support with socializing. Puppies have a critical window for socialization that they often miss out on because they are usually going to new homes around 8 weeks, and owners are told to keep them home until they have all of their shots which often puts dogs into the 16 week mark by the time they are around other dogs. They often don't know what to do or how to act around other dogs. Some breeds are a bit less social (or confused) than others. She is still young and you have plenty of time to expose her to other dogs. Trips to the dog park, and letting her meet other dogs while out walking will help. Also a day here and there at doggy day care will do wonders also! She will be able to observe other dogs being social, and will be able to engage in lots of play.

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Zeus
Golden Retriever mixed with Lab
9 Weeks
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Zeus
Golden Retriever mixed with Lab
9 Weeks

Hello, my name is Berenice Martinez. I just got my new pup, Zeus. He is very submissive and timid. Every time I sit on the couch, he cries and whines. I placed on top of the couch, he cries and whines so I place him back on the floor. When I take him for short walks or to go the restroom, he cries and whines and then lays on the floor like he doesn’t want to go. I read your article about boosting his confidence and have him come to me. Which I will implement but I antes to start to train my dog to do the simple commands and to alert me when he needs to go to the restroom. Do I boost his confidence before I begin training him or do I do both?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
87 Dog owners recommended

Hello! He looks like a big sweetheart! Right now is is a bit unsure of himself and that is ok. As he matures and starts to pick up on training commands and a daily routine, he will become more sure of himself. It is a good idea to just start with the training commands. He will start to understand he has a place in this world, as well as structure which will really help his development. So I would have structured training times with him during the day. At this age, nothing more than about 10-15 minutes. And then you can work on the confidence boosting at other times during the day.

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Ember
Golden Retriever
8 Months
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Ember
Golden Retriever
8 Months

My dog acts submissive around other dogs, will sink to the ground and roll over on her back. She is so sweet but I want her to gain more confidence and be able to play with other dogs. I have begun taking her to the dog park twice to try to gain confidence. How can I help her be less submissive? I don’t necessarily want to implement treat training at the dog park where other dogs may be food aggressive.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, beautiful photo! I would take Ember to obedience training classes as a way to help her gain confidence (learning and challenge instill confidence in dogs) as well as socialize her to other dogs in a controlled environment. Ember may feel less of a need to be submissive in class because the other dogs are on leash, too, and not running over to her, intimidating her. The classes will enable Ember to make friends with dogs of all sizes and types, again instilling confidence. Here are a few tips to start training at home before class: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-dog-basic-obedience. This guide is all about confidence; take a look and see if any of the methods will suit Ember: https://wagwalking.com/training/be-dominant. Good luck and happy training!

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Truitt
Beagle/Lab Mix
4 Years
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Truitt
Beagle/Lab Mix
4 Years

My 4yr old dog is extremely submissive to people and other animals. Even in his own home. He’s afraid of loud sounds and always flips belly up when anyone sees him. He appears to be happy wagging his tail laying on his back and whining or shaking with what we thought was excitement but now realizing is his anxiety or fear. He never growls or snaps at us, rarely if he has a bone or something he knows he shouldn’t have like a sock or piece of cardboard and we try to take it from him, he’ll growl and give us a side eye and run away from us. But other than that, he will never lay a tooth on anyone or another dog, even if it’s being aggressive to or challenging him.

We just got a puppy. Very sweet, watchful, playful but ignores Truitt for the most part. Not in a weird way, but she’s just focused on other things and let’s him have his space. However, Truitt appears as though he feels like he can not enter a room the puppy is in or play in the same room the puppy is in. She has done nothing to him, sniffed him a couple times briefly in passing but has been really good about giving him space and not nipping at him at all.

I want Truitt to still feel comfortable in his own home and be brave enough to play with th puppy and be comfortable around her. If he has a toy and she comes anywhere near him, he will drop it and walk away. I want him to be able to be the boss in his house and not feel like he can’t have anything that is his own.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Haley, There are a couple of things that you can do to build Truitt's confidence. The first thing is, whenever the puppy enters the room where Truitt is and Truitt notices her, or whenever the puppy approaches Truitt, or you call the puppy over to yourself when you are petting Truitt, give Truitt several small, tasty treats, such as freeze dried meat or liver pieces. Try to sound excited to Truitt about the puppy's presence. Use an upbeat, confident, happy tone of voice and avoid speaking in a tone of voice that sounds like you feel sorry for him or are comforting him. The idea is to get him a little bit excited and to convey your own confidence to him. At the same time, continue to encourage calm behavior in the new puppy around Truitt. The second thing is to work on teaching Truitt obedience skills and other new training skills. Have a regular time every day most days where you teach Truitt obedience, tricks, or other mentally stimulating things and increase his focus in general, his respect for you, his success in life, and general bond with you. This should help his confidence in general. When he comes across almost anything that he is afraid of you can help him work through it by having him do obedience exercises in the same general area as the source of fear, with some distance between him and the fear source, and reward him heavily for obedience and calmness, and as he improves you can decrease the amount of distance between him and the item, letting him be the one to determine the pace. Always maintain a confident, upbeat attitude yourself while doing this with him. You can also reward him with treats and praise him in a happy tone of voice whenever he looks at something he finds scary and then looks to you for direction or remains calm. You can also place treats around a scary object and leave him alone to let him work up the courage to investigate and get the treats. Simply replace the treats that he eats, remain calm yourself, and praise him calmly and happily when he investigates. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Marbles
Chuachua
6 Years
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Marbles
Chuachua
6 Years

He rolls over and pees wherever he is. I find pee in bed. I’ve even seen him lift his leg on bed. He cowars down if he wants you to pick him up. He’s a rescue of a hoarder

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
662 Dog owners recommended

Hello Debbie, First, I suggest having pup wear a belly band since the leg lifting could be marking also. I also suggest keeping a drag leash on him while you are home and using that to calmly guide him where he needs to go, instead of reaching to touch him as often. Work on desensitizing him to touch also be feeding him his meal kibble one piece at a time outside. Each time you feed him a piece, gentle touch him in an area of his body, such as paw, ear, muzzle, collar, shoulder, chest, belly, tail, ect... Finally, you may want to consider setting up some agility obstacles or joining a class. Having pup learn to overcome physical obstacles can help build confidence. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dusty
Australian Cattle Dog
4 Years
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Dusty
Australian Cattle Dog
4 Years

We adopted Dusty from a shelter about a month ago and he was extremely fearful when we got him. He's primarily terrified of going outside—he couldn't go on walks, he would shake when he heard a car horn (and we live in NYC so this isn't great). His vet thinks he was hit by a car, as he has a neurological limp that doesn't hurt him but that does make him a little slower. For the first two weeks, he was improving a little bit. He would ask us to take him out to the back or side yard, say hello to guests who came to the house, and was willing to be in rooms that were closer to the street where car horns could be heard (though when one inevitably went off, he would run back to his crate in the back of the house). But then he started to regress, first by not wanting to go into the rooms closer to the house, then by not wanting to go outside and holding it all day (I'm embarrassed to admit that we carry him out just so he doesn't get an infection from not going). Now he doesn't even tell us when he has to go and we have to carry him. He's always been very submissive but now he's even submissively urinating when he sees my partner. We don't know Dusty's past story, or what his life was like before a month ago, but we want to help build his confidence and let him live a happy dog life. Right now he's like a depressed shut-in who barely leaves his crate or our bedroom. How can we build his confidence without traumatizing him? Even just getting him back to the place he was a few weeks ago would be a huge improvement.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
87 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. It sounds like this may be something medical that you want to address with your veterinarian. You can try creating positive experiences with lots of treats and praise in the mean time. You can try luring him outside with treats also. Either making a trail, or with your hand and have him follow you. But I would definitely talk to a veterinarian before doing anything else.

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Sketch of smiling australian shepherd