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Old 07-19-2013, 05:56 AM
BeverleyDarcy BeverleyDarcy is offline
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Default Previously Abused Dog Submissiveness Issues

Hello All,
I have a 6 year old beagle/basset mix we adopted from a local rescue group. We guess that he was subjected to frequent beatings before he was dumped for the rescue to care for. Mind you, he is an excellent dog, very intelligent, food motivated (will do anything for a treat), and is excellent to have around. We have had no issues with aggressiveness, rather, we have issues with excessive submissiveness. We believe these things have stemmed from his past issues with being beaten/mistreated/abused.
I am having a very difficult time with training him, issues that I have never dealt with before. He sits on command now (only occasionally needing a hand signal reminder). Laying down has been our biggest issue. He won't lay down properly, however, he rolls over onto his side, raising his leg in a submissive posture. No matter how sweet and positive you are, he still persists in such behavior.
Another issue I am having is that any form of correction sends him flying, tail-tucked, to hide under the nearest bed. If we catch him sneaking into the garbage cans to steal used feminine sanitary products (which he then stashes under the beds to chew on later), and we tell him "NO" in a firm voice, he yelps and screeches all the way to hide anywhere he can.
Does anyone have any tips for training dogs such as this who are still having issues that stem from his previous treatment? By the way, his photo is my avatar if you were wondering
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Old 07-19-2013, 07:46 AM
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BostonBanker BostonBanker is offline
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You'll sometimes see similar reactions in dogs who have never been mistreated, but are just very soft tempered. My older dog is like that; although she was an adult rescue, I don't think she was ever treated cruelly. She's just soft. My brother yelling at her to get back in the garage when she wandered out made her pee. She rolls over and shows her belly to nearly anyone (although that may be more about the belly rubs!).

Regardless of what caused it, the goal is boosting his confidence. I started doing agility with Meg for mostly that reason. Really, any sort of positive reinforcement based training will likely do the same thing. Putting him in a class, even if he already knows a lot of the things they are teaching, might be fun. Let him learn that he can make rewards happen with his behavior.

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Another issue I am having is that any form of correction sends him flying, tail-tucked, to hide under the nearest bed. If we catch him sneaking into the garbage cans to steal used feminine sanitary products (which he then stashes under the beds to chew on later), and we tell him "NO" in a firm voice, he yelps and screeches all the way to hide anywhere he can.
Honestly, I'd just put the garbage where he can't get it. For a couple of reasons, number one being that those products are incredibly dangerous for dogs. One of the dogs on this forum got very ill from swallowing one. Besides, who really wants to pick up those things after he's chewed on them? Neither of my dogs have shown an interest in pulling such things out of the garbage, but all the same, my bathroom garbage is out of easy reach for them, and the door is kept closed during times where such things are in the trash.

The other reason is exactly what you are seeing; you are scaring the pants off your dog, and it isn't even working. He's still trying to get into the trash, and all you are teaching him is that sometimes his owners are really scary. For a dog who already has confidence issues, being "unpredictable" in his eyes is only going to make things worse.

He sounds like a wonderful dog; because of my girl, I have a real soft spot for those sensitive dogs There is nothing more gratifying than watching them gain confidence and start to feel good about themselves, and that sweet softness makes them so incredibly easy to live with once it isn't so overwhelmed with fear. I hope you stick around and keep us up to date!
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Old 07-19-2013, 09:20 AM
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Emily Emily is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonBanker View Post
Honestly, I'd just put the garbage where he can't get it. For a couple of reasons, number one being that those products are incredibly dangerous for dogs. One of the dogs on this forum got very ill from swallowing one. Besides, who really wants to pick up those things after he's chewed on them? Neither of my dogs have shown an interest in pulling such things out of the garbage, but all the same, my bathroom garbage is out of easy reach for them, and the door is kept closed during times where such things are in the trash.
Yes, please just put them away! As BostonBanker said, my dog almost died - Mackenzy, the cute little Cocker mix in my signature. Tampons and pads can cause fatal blockages in dogs. My dog ate one or two and was hospitalized for 5 days because of it. Really not pretty. We keep all garbages behind cabinet doors now.

The rest of BB's post is also excellent. Consider taking him to a positive reinforcement based obedience class where the instructor can show you how to achieve a down without him rolling onto his side. As she said, this can also be a huge confidence booster for him and for you as well.

Also, seriously, look into clicker training if you haven't already, and start with some basics and teach him some tricks! Clicker training is great because it teaches the dog to think for themselves and become more... self-aware and self-confident. They start to interact with you and the environment in order to earn rewards, rather than avoiding situations for fear of punishment.
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Old 07-19-2013, 11:57 AM
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meepitsmeagan meepitsmeagan is offline
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Ahh, the joys of sensitive dogs! Our little cattle dog Rider, in my sig, was EXTREMELY sensitive.

When we first got him (almost a year ago now! ), he would pee if my husband so much as said his name it seemed. If he didn't want to go into a kennel and I walked up to him, he would pee. He peed at least once a day for probably his first 5 months with us.. then he started to begin to trust us. We made everything a good experience and showed him that even if he made mistakes, that he would be okay and we wouldn't be mad. It was a totally different experience than working with our hard Boxer.

Shaping with the clicker and really working with positive reinforcements helped tremendously. Taking him out, and socializing him to new situations and showing him that it would be okay really built his overall confidence. We took it slow. VERY SLOW. Some days, we wouldn't even get out of the vehicle. I would just sit there with a clicker and treats and reward him for not shaking in the back seat. Now he can go out into a store and do down stays, heel work, sits. He will even shape the clothing racks! Training classes that were pretty hands off, we took Nosework, really helped as well. Do fun things, like hikes and such on a long lead. Just creating a bond in general will help.

It will take time, but you can get there. I promise you. Impulse control may help with the garbage issue as well, though I do agree to pick it up! Good luck! Hope to see you stick around!
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