Submissive Behavior in Dogs

Certain dogs tend to have more submissive temperaments than others.  There are many reasons that a dog may appear submissive.  Sometimes these traits appear in dogs that were mistreated or came from abused homes in the past.  Some dogs just develop more timid personalities and tend to be less sure of themselves and consequently use submissive body posturing.  In addition, some breeds tend to be more prone to submissive behavior.  Early socialization, thorough training, and positive attention help these types of dogs to gain confidence in being around new people will all improve the behavior.
Submissive dogs can be challenging to train.  Submissive dogs need to be handled specially and certain training methods must be avoided.  Behaviors such as hiding or shying away from people or other dogs are character traits that must be addressed when working with these types of dogs.  It is important to not use punishment as a corrective option for submissive dogs. Punishing a dog for a submissive behavior tends to make the dog shy away from you and to become more submissive in an attempt to avoid punishment.  Positive reinforcement, bonding, and attention are ways in which owners can work with submissive dogs and bring them out of their shells. Submissive behaviors should be ignored and owners of submissive dogs should focus on methods of positive reinforcement when a dog behaves in a non-submissive manner.
Building a rapport with a submissive dog is the most crucial aspect of training.  These dogs need their owners to patiently work with the dog to gradually rebuild its trust. Sitting in a room with a dog and speaking to it in a kind and soothing voice can help to calm the animal down and build its trust. Avoid approaching or petting the dog until it becomes familiar with your scent, your appearance, and the sound of your voice.  Be careful to keep your movements subtle and to avoid barking out commands or scolding the dog while working to bond with it.  Encourage the dog to come to you and reward it with a treat after it has adjusted to you.  Stroke the dog on the head and GO BACK TO LIST the ears, applying gentle and soothing pressure. Avoid grabbing the dog’s neck, restraining, or picking up the dog during this process. As a dog continues to become less submissive and more trusting of its owner, continue to pet and stroke the dog in an effort to reinforce bonding and provide the dog with positive reinforcement.
When a dog dives into a submissive state, it is important that the owner handles this with care.  Keep your voice calm and soothing and avoid scolding or punishing the animal for behaviors such as rolling over on its back or fleeing from other dogs or people.  Make sure not to bend down and hover over the animal, as this is a threatening posture that shows dominance over the dog.  Walk away from the dog, ignore the behavior, and wait until the dog comes back over to you.  Praise the dog and pet it after it has stopped the submissive behavior.
Very submissive dogs require a lot of patience and training.  Breaking dogs of submissive habits requires continuously socializing your dog with other humans and dogs.  It is important for the dog to learn that social situations are not threatening.  Small children and people that the dog is not familiar with should be kept away from the dog until the dog has been broken of submissive behavior.  With a lot of hard work and bonding, even very submissive dogs can become sociable and playful with their owners, other dogs, and even strangers.

Article by Kelly Marshall of, check for current specials on double bowl elevated dog feeders online.