Submissive/Scared Puppy

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Submissive/Scared Puppy

This is a discussion on Submissive/Scared Puppy within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Hello Everyone! I adopted my boy Jace three weeks ago from a local rescue, he was 13 weeks at the time. He's a (suspected) Border ...

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Old 07-08-2014, 07:42 PM
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Submissive/Scared Puppy

Hello Everyone!

I adopted my boy Jace three weeks ago from a local rescue, he was 13 weeks at the time. He's a (suspected) Border Collie x Great Pyrenees and such a sweet and smart dog to work with. He looks a whole lot more like a BC than a Pyr - but who knows what he'll grow into!

Now I know quite a lot about dog behavior and training - it's my passion and I really enjoy training dogs, however I have mostly experience with Dominant/Aggressive types. Jace on the other hand is overly submissive and scared - and I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how to work with that.

Like I said, he's extremely submissive, mostly to other people but not with me. When he sees people or dogs from a distance his hackles will go up and he will bark at whatever he is seeing. (mostly just one or two barks) but what confuses me about this behavior is that immediately after that he will want to approach said subject. My puppy class trainer tells me that he feels insecure and if he barks those people/dogs are already too close, but what I don't understand is how he moves TOWARDS the thing that supposedly creeps him out. Puppy Trainer also told me to feed him treats at that time, but isn't that reinforcing the barking/being scared? I'm very confused.
That's what happens from a distance - now when people are too close to bark at he will go into super submissive mode, hiding his tail under him, sitting right at their feet, wagging his tail, excessive licking and I try to tell people to not look him in the eyes and or pet him on his head (I tried telling them to IGNORE him and they will just not do it! ) but no-one seems to listen because
'he's so CUTE' And of course people will be super excited which just feeds into his behavior more .. very frustrating.

Then at home.. He does above scenario with my husband. Now we practice the ignoring and not looking in the eyes and it has already gotten a lot better, he used to pee submissively and that has stopped because I told my husband he had to IGNORE him until he was calm (Hubby did not like that one bit) but he's seeing it's working now... We have been doing this for 2,5 weeks now and he still gets into ultra submissive mode every time he sees my husband.

As for strange dogs I always ask if the dog is friendly (and I look at the dogs body language) before I let him meet the dogs. Big dogs he does the same: Hackles up but does approach, although not nearly as submissively as to people. Every time he has a successful encounter he gets a treat. He used to be very scared with all small dogs too, but we've worked on that and now he plays nicely and gently with small dogs

Now can I get some pointers, please let me know if I'm doing anything wrong or if I can change something - I'm here to learn, I want what's best for Jace.

That's all the negative stuff - besides those things he's doing amazing. Taught him Sit, Down, Come (50ft leash is so useful!) "up" walks great on a leash, doesn't chase the cats...(most of the time ) doing great with potty training

Also if you have some tips of things you do differently in regards to a dominant dog/ Submissive dog? I read somewhere that having dogs like him win at tug games is a GOOD thing, while I know you should never let a dominant dog win...

Thanks in Advance!!
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:05 PM
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How old is he now? Is he socialized properly to objects and places? If you're still in the socialization window get onto that ASAP, it is very, very, very important!!!

I work with an extremely submissive dog and in all honesty I can't think of any special way that I would treat them. A fearful dog is a fearful dog. How they respond to their fear is irrelevant. Dominant or submissive they respond equally poorly to the wrong types of training, and equally well to the right ones. The ground rules should be evident; no shouting, pinning down, staring down, 'growling', bullying, etc. Social confidence may build more quickly off-leash or on a long leash like the 50 foot one that you have. It's been proven that reinforcing a fear in a dog through positive means is impossible. If you were to shout at or 'correct' your dog for fearful behaviour... that punishment would reinforce the already punishing effects of the fear. But rewarding him int he presence of the objects he is afraid of will negate the punishing effects of the object on him because he will begin to associate the object with food and rewards. I hope that makes sense.

Good luck with your pup. I find that fostering a strong bond through play and training helps immensely with fearful dogs. Also, building a routine in response to the presence of people helps. If you end up chatting to someone on the sidewalk, just let him lean on you or sit on your feet. That way he can observe the stranger and feel the situation out without all eyes and attention on him. Socialize socialize socialize!
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:11 PM
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He is (approximately) 17 weeks now.. His date of birth is unknown.

I'm socializing the hell out of him, however I find taking him places difficult since he gets car sick and that's a negative experience (right?)

So with other words just feed him treats whenever he is scared no matter how he's responding to it?

Thank you for your help
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:16 PM
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Definitely feed treats no matter the reaction! You can't reinforce fear; it's an emotion. You can only alter it with counter-conditioning aka, making the scary thing into a good thing by pairing it with something awesome. Use SUPER high value rewards for counter-conditioning, like real cooked chicken, cheese, or hot dogs.

Also, I think this might be something to brush up on. "Submissive" and "dominant" means absolutely nothing in dog training.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:24 PM
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He's getting a mix of hotdogs, string cheese, kibble and natural balance as treats - so I think the highvalue is covered

Will get on reading that right away Rennajade! Thank you all
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