Submissive Golden Retriever

Retriever breed specific questions. Kennel information requests, etc.

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Submissive Golden Retriever

Postby darlah » Sun May 04, 2003 5:45 pm

I acquired a golden that is 6 years old. After the breeder fixed her, the other dogs started attacking her. WE know this to be true as we actually viewed it. We were visiting to pick out a pup and saps as we are, we came home with this one. She drools and slinks and gets upset with barking dogs but when not barking, she tends to be hesitant but has a desire to greet them. If someone yells to someone in the house, she cringes. The poor things is so submissive and so needy, it can become difficult. After 6 weeks of having her, she finally doesn't have to be with you every second. When I say be with you, I mean following so close with her rump dragging that you almost step on her. She only does this behavior now when she appears to be overly jealous.

Then the new puppy came home 9 days ago and our 6 year old became more needy. I made sure I fed our 6 year old 1st, gave her the attention 1st etc. The puppy tends to bite her and harrass her and only when it appeared as if we are not looking, did the 6year old finally correct the puppy. Otherwise, she just sat and took it or ran away. We correct the puppy and the puppy IS getting better. We even found the puppy sleeping on the 6 year old - a 1st. We also have a play yard area in my office to give our 6 year old a break. Meaning, the puppy stays in it most of the time during the day other than walks and back yard play - which is a good part of the day. Our 6 year old also stays with me but outside of the play area. We've let the 6 year old in the play area to make sure she realizes she is not missing anything. She's laid in it, sniffed around etc.

The 6 year old is getting better about noises and much better about other dogs but has a LONG way to go. She seems to be a psychological mess but much better today than 6 weeks ago despite the addition of the puppy.
We caught her growling at the puppy when she went after her food and the puppy stopped. We feed them seperately but the puppy will always eat if food was there. We didn't correct the 6 year old on this but allowed her to let the puppy know her dish is off limits and she has her own.

Now, on to the questions.

1. Will we ever be able to get the 6 year old to be significantly less submissive? Are there any tips other than lots of love, patience and consistency?

We make her look at us in the eyes, hug her, lay on the floor with her etc. Just subtle things to get her secure and make her feel she is a valued member of the pack.

Heck, she wouldn't even get in and out of the car and now she can't wait as she is going for one of her LONG walks vs the shorter 45 minute ones. We tend to go on the trails when we go in the car. She also gets excited when she sees the house so the in and out of the car has become simple. Before we had to pick her up and put her in and pick her up to bring her out. We are her 4th and last home.

2. How long will it take for the puppy to bond with the 6 year old? The puppy seems to be trying but the nipping at the 6 year old is not going over too big. Can I help this along other than doing the correcting myself? I was hoping the 6 year old would consistently correct and therefore handle the issue for the most part herself.

Thoughts, please.

Postby OregonAg » Mon May 05, 2003 11:23 am

Well first off I don't think I'd worry about the puppy not bonding with the 6 year old, if you found them sleeping together they've already begun to bond IMO, and typically if anything you'd need to worry more about the puppy bonding too much with the older dog, and not strongly enough with the humans in the family.

It sounds like you are taking a good approach, allowing the older dog to correct the puppy. That's going to be important. If the puppy is more dominant (and from the sound of it he almost certainly will be) my guess is at some point they will reverse roles, but any respect the older dog can instill in him now is a very good thing for their future relationship.

As far as what you can do about the excessive submissiveness in the adult dog, you seem to be taking the correct approach. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head would be to check around and see if there are any obedience schools near you. A CGC class might actually benefit her.

This might sound a little counter intuitive, since it's obvious how a dominant dog can benefit from training (learning his place in the pack), but less so why it would be necessary for a submissive dog. But the idea in this case is to provide opportunities for her to succeed and gain confidence.

I just completed an 8 hour CGC class with my Golden (who if anything tends more towards dominance), and one of the other dogs in the class was a very shy, very submissive canaan dog. At the beginning of class I wasn't sure this was going to be a good thing for her, but the difference between her behavior the first night, and the last night was noticeable. She was much, much more confident at the end.

Don't misunderstand, it's not going to work miracles, she's still submissive, but not so much that it's painful to watch any more.

If you don't have a school available, I would still suggest doing some training work with her might benefit her. Obviously you'd want a pure positive reinforcement approach, since she's probably going to overreact to any sort of harsh correction. The key is to find ways for her to earn praise. Dogs are smarter than we think in some ways, and while the unconditional love and praise is a good thing, they also recognize when they've actually done something to earn praise (you should see the way our GR prances when he's bringing in the paper in the morning -- he's quite proud of himself), and they gain confidence from doing so. Just make sure any training is fun for both of you, don't allow your self to get (and especially show) frustration with her, since that would be counterproductive in this case.

Good Luck!

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