Is my dog extremely submissive?

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Is my dog extremely submissive?

This is a discussion on Is my dog extremely submissive? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; My mastiff mix (we think he's mixed with Plott hound) is extremely submissive around other dogs. He's very social with people and likes to play ...

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Old 01-03-2018, 10:26 PM
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Is my dog extremely submissive?

My mastiff mix (we think he's mixed with Plott hound) is extremely submissive around other dogs. He's very social with people and likes to play even with dogs, but a lot of dogs seem to not like him, even if he tries to play.

He does find dogs who will play with him and who like him but at the dog parks or our family's homes with other dogs around, they become aggressive with him, growling, and even attacking him and biting the skin on his neck, almost as if to say "stop it". One dog, who even tho is known for being grumpy and dominant, would consistently attack him, even if our dog was happily playing with another dog.

At the dog park, a couple times when around a large group of dogs, they will start surrounding him and barking at him and chasing him away.

Even a happy friendly dog of our grandparents, started growling at him and never got used to him no matter how many times we brought him over.

I feel so bad for him because I know he wants to play. Even after being attacked or barked at, he still seems to want to be around them like he's trying to get them to like him.

Is this super submissive behavior? He's fine with people, it's other dogs that seem to not like him. We were contemplating getting another dog so he can play and socialize with another dog (of course we'd introduce before adopting to make sure they would get along ok), but I'm worried we'll get a dog who will attack him.

What can help him get along with other dogs, or is that just how he is? Why don't other dogs like him?
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:35 AM
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You gave much better clues in your other post under

"newly adopted mastiff mix... he's 2 1/2. He was returned to the shelter 3 times"

I would guess that early and subsequent "socialisation" by previous owners may have been a bit "hit and miss", so, in general, he knows what to do, but his manners leave a bit to be desired - not necessarily his fault.

Maybe he was stopped again and again when playing because his owners (or the owners of the "other dog") thought he was getting too rough and he didn't have the opportunity to get clear "feedback" from the other dogs.

You appear to be doing a lot right in your training at home, I'd be inclined to extend this to when he's out. When he meets other dogs, walk him with them (including your grandparents' dog), rather than have him mix with them without any structure. You will find other dogs that he can play with, that are happy to play with him, but it may just take time.

Bear in mind, he's newly adopted and you may have two year's learning to "reteach".

My labrador's best friend at three months old was a Dogue de Bordeaux who was 2 weeks older than him. It would be a normal for him to be hanging off her neck when they ran and for him to be covered in slobber around head and neck. This continued until she died at age 7.

It may be worth getting a good trainer to watch your dog as a fair bit of what you've posted could well be normal play That, for me, would be essential before you consider getting another dog.
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Old 01-04-2018, 05:00 PM
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I'm not entirely sure you're working from a correct understanding of what the word "submissive" means, either technically (as in, scientifically), or more colloquially (in the way people tend to apply it).

Scientifically, "submissive" (and "dominant") refers to a relationship between two animals over a resource in a specific moment. The animal that controls the resource is "dominant" over that resource in that moment, and the animal who does not is "submissive". The relationship may differ across time or across resources- the animal that is "dominant" in one situation is likely "submissive" in others.

Colloquially, the term is applied under the assumption that dogs are extremely rank-oriented animals, with social rank deciding quite a lot of things. Without going too into it, "submissive" is usually applied to the lower ranking animal. It is also used to describe a personality trait usually defined by a less confrontational animal that offers a lot of appeasement gestures (which are meant to diffuse tension/aggression- in dogs this would be rolling onto their back voluntarily, low posture, 'groveling' behavior including licking the mouth of the other dog, etc).

In your the other post referenced above, you describe him by saying:
"We've found that he's just very energetic and is trying to play rough but doesn't know polite play."
It sounds like your dog is being rude, and other dogs don't like that. Given the mix I assume he's pretty large? Possibly much larger than most dogs? That often introduces an element of fear as well as annoyance, and it is possible you're misreading his intention and he is actually not as friendly as you think.

Dogs aren't born knowing how to play with others, and some have play styles that others don't like even when they are well socialized. I would really recommend consulting with a professional that can evaluate his behavior and see what the deal is. Posting a video of him playing with another dog (if it can be done safely) may be helpful for getting feedback here, but I would strongly recommend working with a professional given the extent to which you seem to be wanting him around other dogs and that he sounds to be large enough to inflict damage even by accident in the wrong situation.
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Old 01-04-2018, 05:55 PM
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Why don't you try having him evaluated by a good doggy daycare place? They helped my dog who wasn't socialized at all learn to play with other dogs. He never does some of the things there that he does in dog parks like humping, but they don't allow unneutered dogs there which I think helps. He doesn't always do it just to certain dogs or if a dog does it to him or he sees other dogs doing it.
Having a professional evaluation could be helpful.
I know my dog doesn't like one Newfoundland and has attacked him several times. He doesn't anymore and the other owner and I have made huge efforts to have them together with lots of patting and treats for getting along and now they coexist at the dog park fine.
There was a huge 200 pound mountain dog at one awful stable I kept my horses at for just two months before I had to move before they killed my old mare. This dog was huge and apparently had never been socialized. He wasn't vicious but would get overexcited and was loose all the time and had no recall. He'd see my leashed dog, race over and jump on him and crush him and refuse to get off. He'd ignore all my dog's signals of enough. My dog is usually friendly and gets along fine with almost all other dogs but hated that dog and started growling and snapping and attacking to get him off of him. Even biting did nothing as he had a very thick long coat.
When my dog was sixteen months and exuberant and unsocialized and a punk defiant teenager he'd run straight at other dogs and jump on them to wrestle and hump them and wrestle roughly, no sniffing or meeting properly. At sixty three pounds he got attacked a few times and taught manners and etiquette very quickly. Doggy daycare and daily trips to the dog park with good social dogs, not vicious but appropriate taught him a little and he's very well socialized and polite now. Your dog might be too big to be easily taught by one dog to play appropriately, or maybe ignoring subtle social cues so other dogs may feel they need to be more explicit.
If he's not neutered I've noticed neutered males can be quite aggressive to unneutered males. Several other owners at my local dog park have neutered their dogs just because their dogs were getting attacked so much.
Also dogs that bark excessively, or provoke other dogs by jumping on two other dogs who are wrestling or trying to steal a possessive dogs toy or ball can get attacked more. There's an adolescent hound male that goes a lot and he barks excessively and always tries to harass and chase and bully other dogs. Just seems to act like he wants to be king of the park. He's maybe fifty pounds, my dog is 82. He tried to bark and growl and push my dog away from a ball once, my dog is not at all possessive over toys but seems to have less patience over incessant barking and particularly adolescent males, so when this little bully tried to intimidate him out of nowhere he roared and pinned him for a second, the bully did a puppy squawk and he took the ball and brought it to me. He usually ignores him, since then once he got annoyed at the barking so did a big bark growl lunge thing then came over to me. Like he's saying shut up already lol.

I've also seen a lot of dogs start barking and bite and try to interfere or stop two dogs if they see them wrestling on the ground. Their owners usually say their dogs are trying to control the other dogs and think they're fighting and want to stop it, or want to join in. It personally drivese nuts since my dog won't run and chase, which is a very common play style. Every dog on the park can be racing around chasing and he'll come to me and sits down. He'll run occasionally or with a stolen toy to be chased but won't usually play this game. He needs to wrestle roughly and chew with one of his favorite buddies. He's very quick to stop if the other dog leaves or if another dog interferes since he won't play with some dogs he knows or strangers. I'm there to get him to play and be happy and tired. I don't want another annoying dog barking and nipping and jumping in and stopping his rare play. I tell the owner so politely. If they don't control their dog I say no no let them play go away now. But it's a common irritating thing people let their dogs do.
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