Rehabilitating Shy or Submissive Dogs

These is no doubt that some breeds of dogs are more prone to being shy or submissive than others, with females often being more submissive than males of the same breed. In addition to these factors, human aggression or excessive punishment of any breed of dog can result in a dog that is not self-confident and is afraid of human contact. Since many times these dogs are then punished even further for their non-compliance or timidity, the cycle simply continues for these unfortunate and abused animals. Thankfully there is a simple process that any dog owner can use to help the dog gain back his or her confidence and lose those submissive and timid behaviors. This will take a change in behavior on the part of the owner to bring out the positive and confident personality in the dog, but it is well worth the effort.

The first step in the process is to eliminate or minimize any punishment towards the dog, no matter what he or she may be doing. This means thinking ahead, removing problems and avoiding yelling, speaking harshly or even worse, physically punishing the dog. Focus on what your dog is doing right, even if it is not perfect. Once your dog learns that you are not going to punish, he or she will be more cooperative in training and can focus on what to do rather than focusing on the punishment they have come to associate with the training session. Start by having a few healthy, small bite-sized treats that can be used to help him or her understand that being around you is a good thing, and doing something right will get a treat while doing something incorrect results in nothing for them. Don’t bend over the dog, this can be seen as threatening. If the dog is prone to submissive urinating when she is coming towards you, don’t punish or raise your voice, once she builds confidence this is likely to stop on its own.

Start your training with the basic “come” command. Don’t physically punish the dog, drag him or her or force them to come to you. Assume a crouching or squatting position, or even sit down on the floor. This is probably strange for the dog and he or she is likely to come over just to see what is going on. Praise the dog with lots of pets and verbal rewards, but don’t hold him or her or force them in close to you. Keep doing this multiple times a day until they are consistently coming to you. The next step is to have them sit. Don’t push down on the hind quarters or physically manipulate the dog, rather have them come and then hold your hand over their back and rump, which will have them look up and their bottoms will go down. Immediately give praise for the “sit” even if it is just for a second.

As your dog becomes less timid and more outgoing, start introducing him or her to other “dog friendly” people. Allow the dog to interact with others as this will also help to build confidence. Typically most dogs will respond and become more confident within five weeks to two months. Don’t push the training, go slowly and let the dog set the pace, remember they are learning to trust all over again and it will take some time.

Article by John Costello of Oh My Dog Supplies, check for current specials on elevated dog bowls online.

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