- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Training Abused Dog???

February 11th, 2005, 02:07 PM
Hey everyone I am pretty new to this site so maybe someone can help me. I reacently purchased a mastiff about 2 months ago. I am having a problem with him being really shy and almost affraid of people in general it seems. He was 5 months old when I purchased him and I have thought here for a while that he might have been abused by someone. Up to this point I have done nothign but give him treats and talk sweet to him but it seems that progress is comign along at an alarming slow rate. As far as problems that I am facing on a day to day basis includes:
1.Cowering (To Everyone)
2.Urinating when you try to pet him or walk up to him.
It is almost like he was abused by men, he is better with women it seems. At this point I have been nice and not hard on him at all, is this ok? I give him treats and pet him a lot to try to give him reassurance that he is ok. I guess what I am asking is if I am doign the right thing and it will take more time or should I change my strategy? Any information would be real helpful. I have had 2 mastiffs prior to this one and the other two were magnificant dogs, very happy and obedient. Any suggestions?

February 11th, 2005, 02:14 PM
I see one thing that is wrong. I think I have read that if you pet a dog and reassure a dog when it is cowering, you are reassuring his submissive behaviour.

I have a dog that I have only had for a week. The first few days he hated the elavator. I was told not to pet him and tell him it's ok, as it reassures his fear. Instead I distracted him by getting him to not think about it, with treats or otherwise.

I can't offer any alternate options though regarding reducing the submissive behaviour.

February 11th, 2005, 02:32 PM
Ok I will start doing that from here on out. That makes sense now that I think about it. I will go buy a fanny pack and put some treats in it so that I can be prepared.

Thanks for the reply! I appreciate it.

Anyone else have any suggestions about this thread?

February 11th, 2005, 02:37 PM
Welcome and thank you for rescuing a Mastiff. These are incredible dogs. My guy was abused he is 3 years old now and I have had him for a year oh he is an English Mastiff but my last guy was a Neapolitan also abused more starved then physical but still abuse is abuse. I will give you any help you need to work with him. Go very slow these dogs are incredibly sensitive and once they have been abused it takes a while for them to trust but once they do you will be the proud owner of a velcro dog. I am going to privat message you.

February 11th, 2005, 02:44 PM
Ok thank you for your intrest. I will be looking for your message.


Lucky Rescue
February 11th, 2005, 03:03 PM
Don't always assume that fearful submissive urinators have been abused. Many of them are just the products of crappy breeding and have unstable temperaments.

Stop the treats and the sweet talk. If you sweet talk a dog who is cowering or acting fearful, what HE hears is "Goooood boy. Keep acting that way."

You have to ignore fear and reward positive behavior.

Here are a bunch of GREAT links for helping fearful and shy dogs. I'm sure they will help you.

Helping the fearful dog (

February 11th, 2005, 05:18 PM
I agree with LR.
It is very unlikely that he was abused at such a young age. More likely that he is extremely submissive/sensitive naturally and he had little exposure to people, dogs and life in general during his most impressionable months.
Get him working for you as much as possible. He needs to gain confidence and the best way to do that is to show him that you are a confident leader. ignore the fearful behavior and give him lots of jobs to to. A busy mind/body does not have time to be afraid.
Expect him to be awesome and he has a better chance of actually fulfilling your expectations.
His challenge to you is to be sensitive to his sensitivity, but don't baby him or you will make him believe he is a baby.

February 11th, 2005, 05:53 PM
It is very unlikely that he was abused at such a young age.

I just have to make a comment about this.In my line of work I see it all.And yes with animals too.This little guy may not have been physically abused but mentally.I had a call where a woman was being abused.And guess what,he was also abusing their 3 month old Rottie pup.This poor little girl coward away when we went to the house.We didn't know about the abuse situation with this pup till after taking her statement.The only reason we knew is because she told us.Sorry,can't say much more about this.

If you read the papers,you will see that many puppys and kittens are abused even at 8 weeks of age.

Just my 2 cents. :)

February 11th, 2005, 07:30 PM
Mona B,
I think I prefer to believe people are fundamentally good and wouldn't hurt innocent creatures - I can be so naive.
We have worked with thousands of dogs and there are many who are truly victims of abuse, but so many people see a dog cower and assume it's someone else’s fault - when the dog is really just naturally timid. So we see both sides.
Thank you for the reminder that not everyone has the heart to be kind to animals - sometimes I need a jolt.
Tangent - when the videos of dogs being poisoned by the terrorists raised such outrage here in America I had to remind people that abuse exists here in our own country that exceeds what the terrorists did. We seem to think it only happens in other people’s lives, but it happens in our very own neighborhoods as well - we just don't like to think about it.
There is no greater cruelty than what lies in the human heart.

Lucky Rescue
February 11th, 2005, 08:38 PM
I would like to believe that people are fundamentally good, but I'm afraid I cannot. :sad:

There is nothing so horrible that someone won't do it. Even FISH and birds get abused, and certainly puppies and kittens, sometimes just for the sheer pleasure of it.

This puppy may very well have been abused, but maybe not. My dog is also quite submissive, but it's just her nature and her breed and I do not believe she was deliberately abused, other than being severely neglected.

February 12th, 2005, 06:42 AM
I had a husky mix that was a product of a puppymill and was VERY fearful of hands. We got her at the age of 3 months old, and we couldn't even touch her without her yelping hysterically and hiding in the corner. When she saw a broom, she would hysterical and try to bite it. She would even bite us and draw blood when we went to close to her. This was not a normal behavoir of a 3 month old pup! We asked our vet at the time, Dr. Leger, he told us she was badly neglected at the puppymill and at the pet shop. She needed to socialize and prove to her, not all hands and people were going to hurt her.
We did what he suggested and built up her confidence. Her new found confidence she became the "queen" of the house. We didn't tell her what to do, she told us! It took awhile and alots of patience, but it was worth it. We had a faithful and loyal friend. We had her for 15.5 years till last year when she died.

February 13th, 2005, 12:13 AM
Unfortunately I hear and see alot with my job.Guess that's why I am a strong person,or at least try to be.I have seen abused woman,children,and yes even animals.And it sickens me to no end.I would love to take these people in a field and beat the crap out of them.There is alot that goes on that doesn't make it in the papers.So no one hears about it.There are alot of sickos out there who abuse animals just for the sake of some sick pleasure. :evil: :mad:

Remember,neglect is also a form of abuse.And it hapens at any age.

It's true that Napoleans pup may not have been abused.But something may have happened.

Napolean,can I ask from where you perchased this pup?

February 14th, 2005, 08:01 AM
I purchased this pup from a breeder in Arkansas. The breeder was origionaly going to keep him but ended up selling him due to a illness that would requirer her to get rid of most of her dogs. Thanks for all the information about this subject.

February 14th, 2005, 08:21 AM
See with a very reputable breeder they handle all the pups from day one.They socialize them,play with them.They are in contact with them all the time.As do the rest of the family.Male and female.They have happy puppies.

How is your boy doing?Getting any better?

February 14th, 2005, 09:54 AM
Hey how are things going with Napoleon? I hope the site I directed you to was helpful to you.

February 14th, 2005, 10:59 AM
Well everything is going ok, he seems to be day to day. I guess it depends on his mood. He was real good Saturday until I accidently stepped on his foot.....I think it hurt his feelings real bad. He wouldn't look at me much but Sunday was better. But progress is noticable. Thanks for all the info. Anyone know where I can get some good food like Diamond or something from Costco? There sin't anything like that where I am in Texas. All we really have are feed stores and Pet's Mart's. Not a while lot of variety in a 250K populated town.....weird hu? Any suggestions?

February 14th, 2005, 01:09 PM
I have to agree with Mastifflover on her points about going slow with this guy. I have 2 Bordeauxs and got my Zarr when he was a year old. I don`t believe he was abused, but he has no idea how to handle affection. He is a big BIG suck and cries whenever I leave the room.
We have really worked on getting him accustomed to head rubs( especially his ears) kid kisses on his head, neck, body and lots and lots of hugs. Most of the time he just looks dumbfounded at us ................... but he is coming along.
Mastiffs are soft hearted, they don`t need agressive training.

When you posted about hurting his feelings by stepping on his foot accidentally, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Don`t worry, he`ll come around, you just need a lot of patience and all the advice that you will get from everyone here.
You can check with Mastifflover about the reassurance thing when he is cowering, as I said Mastiffs are different than most dogs, and although you do not want to teach him that being submissive is desireable, you may want to approach his training from a different angle.

They really do become velcro dogs, and I think you will be so proud when you see how he comes around. One word of warning, they do think they are lap dogs, just ask me, I have nearly 300 lbs of "lap dog" and it is sometimes a little annoying to know you cannot sit down on the couch or lay down on the bed without having a "dog pile" happen. :)