In an extremely submissive dog, there are a number of exercises that you can try to use as confidence-building activities. By building confidence and eliminating extreme submissive attitude, your dog will no longer experience submissive urination, fear, and general anxiety during his or her interactions with humans.
Notably, these exercises encourage the dog to be more dominant. Therefore, these exercises are only appropriate for dogs who show extreme submissiveness. If you perform these exercises with a “normal” dog, you may start to observe problematic, dominance-related behaviors. If you have any questions, consult your veterinarian or an experienced dog trainer before trying these exercises.
Sharing Food With a Submissive Dog
Sit on the floor, at the dog’s level, and eat with the dog. Offer high-value treats like bits of hot dog or bits of cheese. It is a very significant gesture for an alpha (that’s you!) to share food with another pack member, particularly while you’re eating. You don’t need to eat an entire meal; a snack will suffice. The point is to eat with your dog and share bits of food. Do not attempt this while you’re sitting at the table during a traditional meal time, otherwise, you may inadvertently encourage begging.
Playing Tug With a Submissive Dog
Generally, it’s a bad idea to play tug with a dog unless you plan to hang on until you win the tugging match. Surrendering during tug says “you’re the more dominant one.” But when working with an extremely submissive dog, tug can be a very effective confidence-building activity.
In short, let the dog win the game of tug. This helps to build confidence and dominance (of course, we don’t want the dog to become too dominant, so discontinue this activity once you’ve built up the dog’s confidence level.)
Notably, an extremely submissive dog may not want to play tug at first, so you may need to try a few other exercises first. Or, “trick” the dog into a game of tug. Wait until she takes a toy in her mouth and gently tug on it. Then release and let her keep the toy.
Sitting and Sleeping With Your Dog
An extremely submissive dog will be content to sleep and sit at a level that’s physically lower than the alpha. To sit or sleep at the same level as the alpha is very significant for the dog; again, it’s a gesture that says “you’re worthwhile.” So grab a few pillows and cuddle with your dog on the floor or purchase an elevated dog bed and place it beside the couch or bed, so your dog is elevated to the same level.
If you feel comfortable doing so, allow your dog to sit on the couch or bed, but beware that your dog will want to sit/sleep on the couch and/or bed in the future. In short, don’t let your dog on the bed or couch unless you’re okay with them sitting/sleeping in these locations forevermore!
Pet massage is relaxing and it’s a significant gesture for the dog because the alpha is fussing over her; this tells the dog “You’re worth it!” and it serves to build confidence. Also, massage is relaxing and pleasant, so it puts the dog in a comfortable mental state since it works to eliminate feelings of fear and anxiety.
For more tips, read “Is My Dog Submissive?” and “How to Help a Dog With Submissive Urination.”
Photo Source: Sanya Obsivac on Sxc.hu
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