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Discussion Starter #1
You may remember my fiancee and I adopted Sarma (a wire-haired dachshund) from the local shelter last year.

Initially I was worried there was something wrong with him because he didn't play (and still doesn't) like other dogs do (tug, chase, ruff-housing etc) he doesn't care for toys, he doesn't chew up rugs, furniture, curtains, book, cables... but that's a good thing, right?!

He was also very timid, and cautious with strangers, especially young children.

Seeing as he had lived in the shelter for at least a good few months, then at several other people for a month or two before I even got him, I thought I should give him a few months to settle in and get accustomed to us, to the apartment, to his new life.

It's been 18 months since we've had him but his behaviour has barely changed. Pretty much every time I reach out to pet him, or just stroke his chin or whatever, he will sort-of freeze, adopting a stiff body posture and he will raise one of his back legs in that obvious gesture, submissive dogs do to expose their belly. After a few seconds he will start to loosen up, lower and relax his leg but it seems like he's afraid.

Throughout all this time he's been with us, we've shown him nothing but love and affection. We are both easy-going people, who very rarely even argue. He often times sleeps in our bed, sometimes cuddled right in between us, and our pillows. He sleeps belly up, covered in blankets, just like a human. We have a nice, quiet home so I'm very surprised even now, after a year and a half he will still raise his leg and lower his head in a very submissive manner whenever I touch him.

I know nothing of his life prior to him living with us, just that he had a very nasty cold and then distemper while he was in the shelter.

Could it be that he's forever like this, afraid of the hand that feeds him?
 

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It may be that he'll still come around. And it may be that is just who he is. I wouldn't automatically assume that the leg up is a sign of fear. Some dogs just give more submissive/calming signals than others. Have you tried doing any positive reinforcement based training to give him confidence? He sounds like a very sweet little guy.
 

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Hopefully he'll come around, but he may always be very cautious, due to his background. My poodle Potsie is like that to this day, and we've had him for about 2 years. That's just who he is. He still doesn't play with us, but he'll play chase and bitey face with our other dog. He won't play fetch or tug with us, but he'll steal Maddie's favorite toys and hide them in his chair behind him - lol! He can't handle loud (esp. male) voices - they make him start barking furiously, or he curls into a fetal position.

On the other hand, he is a total lap dog, loving to lay in our laps, which he'd love to do all day! He'd be the perfect dog for an older person - luckily our house is normally fairly quiet, but when we have company, we put him in our bedroom, where's he's happier.
 

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Similar situation here. Our dog is rescued, no history as to what situation she was in before. She was a stray that ran (for sometime) with 2 litter mates.

She is generally very good. Doesn't play fetch or anything and will sometimes chews rawhide bones. She play wrestles with our other dog.

She is also very timid around strangers, in particular, men. Fine with me, my wife and kids. My father and father in law, she keeps a distance from and takes a long time to warm up to.

So my advice... keep up the positive reinforcement. I don't know how much more your dog might change, but mine has responded (although slowly) to it.
 

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In addition, it could simply be the motion that you're using - he may be sensitive to it for some reason.
1. What happens if you reach over to him with a treat in your hand?
2. What happens if you reach that way to pick him up to cuddle?
3. How about if you pet him, using the same motion as you would to cuddle?
4. How about if you feed him 4 treats, the size of a pinky fingernail, pet him, then feed another 4 treats?
 

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Time is your weapon of choice. Keep on doing what your doing and positive reinforcement if it does not help will definitely not hurt this type of dog. You just have to be patient and wait for the trap doors to open.

May happen this month or next year, who cares the dog has a home now so there is no rigid time schedule.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You are all right, but to answer some of you I will quote:


Hopefully he'll come around, but he may always be very cautious, due to his background. My poodle Potsie is like that to this day, and we've had him for about 2 years. That's just who he is. He still doesn't play with us, but he'll play chase and bitey face with our other dog. He won't play fetch or tug with us, but he'll steal Maddie's favorite toys and hide them in his chair behind him - lol! He can't handle loud (esp. male) voices - they make him start barking furiously, or he curls into a fetal position.

On the other hand, he is a total lap dog, loving to lay in our laps, which he'd love to do all day! He'd be the perfect dog for an older person - luckily our house is normally fairly quiet, but when we have company, we put him in our bedroom, where's he's happier.
Sarma is the same. He is the definition of a velcro dog. If he finds himself attached to people (be it friends, or strangers on a first visit) he sticks to them like glue, cuddling to them, licking hands, nudging with his nose begging for petting.

He is also friends with each and every dog he meets, unless they either lunge and snap out of the blues (it's happened) or they try to "climb" on him, when he retaliates, usually by barking, but on occasion and if provoked he will bite. Good thing he seems to have a fantastic bite inhibition as he never left a mark, although it was very difficult for me to pry open his jaws when he grabbed the neck of a dog that saw fit to welcome Sarma to his yard (my parents' in law) with a bite.


In addition, it could simply be the motion that you're using - he may be sensitive to it for some reason.
1. What happens if you reach over to him with a treat in your hand?
About just the same...

2. What happens if you reach that way to pick him up to cuddle?
The same.

3. How about if you pet him, using the same motion as you would to cuddle?
The same - he kind of "crouches" (for lack of a better term, I am not an native english speaker, so my apologies) lowers his head and raises his back leg showing his belly.

4. How about if you feed him 4 treats, the size of a pinky fingernail, pet him, then feed another 4 treats?
I haven't tried this exact thing, but out of experience I would say he wouldn't act very different. He is just very timid when you reach out to him. And it's not only when you're standing, I tried crouching, lowering myself as low as I could, sometimes even lying on the floor...

Time is your weapon of choice. Keep on doing what your doing and positive reinforcement if it does not help will definitely not hurt this type of dog. You just have to be patient and wait for the trap doors to open.

May happen this month or next year, who cares the dog has a home now so there is no rigid time schedule.
That's right, appreciate the kind words.
 

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Some dogs never like being touched. It's nothing to do with you, by what I've read you're a kind, loving, concerned dog owner. Some of it could be abuse, but . . .

You ever wonder why two people from the same family can be so different? One person is a homeless drug addict, the other a successful business person? Human diseases like addiction and bipolar and depression have a strong genetic component, but there seems to be a trigger, too. Something that happens to one sibling and not the other that sets off the genetic predisposition for mental illness. (There's a lot of evidence that cancer and MS are the same way.)

Anyway, I think dogs like yours have a genetic predisposition towards fear or hating being touched and then they experience some rough handling that sets it off and that's that. You can manage their issues and improve them to a degree, but you're never going to have a happy-go-lucky sitcom worthy "perfect" pet. Personally, I like my imperfect pets. I'm damaged myself, so I understand.

There's a blog written by a trainer who has a dog that she can't touch for more than 5 seconds at a time, but she's a good dog, an agility champ and overall happy. I wish I could remember the blog, you'd probably like it.
 

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I got Cupid when he was two and have had him for going on four years now. He is not a cuddler. He will let me touch him on his terms--when he wants a tummy rub, for instance. Sometimes he will lick my face all over. Otherwise, he will shy away from me.

Having said this, he is still very much a mama's boy. He wants to be where I am. He's a good dog, but whatever happened to him before I got him (whether abuse or poor socialization) left its mark on him. Sometimes training helps, but part of it is just his nature.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Some dogs never like being touched. It's nothing to do with you, by what I've read you're a kind, loving, concerned dog owner. Some of it could be abuse, but . . .

You ever wonder why two people from the same family can be so different? One person is a homeless drug addict, the other a successful business person? Human diseases like addiction and bipolar and depression have a strong genetic component, but there seems to be a trigger, too. Something that happens to one sibling and not the other that sets off the genetic predisposition for mental illness. (There's a lot of evidence that cancer and MS are the same way.)

Anyway, I think dogs like yours have a genetic predisposition towards fear or hating being touched and then they experience some rough handling that sets it off and that's that. You can manage their issues and improve them to a degree, but you're never going to have a happy-go-lucky sitcom worthy "perfect" pet. Personally, I like my imperfect pets. I'm damaged myself, so I understand.

There's a blog written by a trainer who has a dog that she can't touch for more than 5 seconds at a time, but she's a good dog, an agility champ and overall happy. I wish I could remember the blog, you'd probably like it.
I loved your post, especially the part where you said you were damaged, much like your imperfect pets. It struck a chord and I heard myself saying those words...
 

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Anyway, I think dogs like yours have a genetic predisposition towards fear or hating being touched and then they experience some rough handling that sets it off and that's that. You can manage their issues and improve them to a degree, but you're never going to have a happy-go-lucky sitcom worthy "perfect" pet. Personally, I like my imperfect pets. I'm damaged myself, so I understand.
I very much agree with this.
 

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It's not much help but I halfway know what you mean. I do not know what happened to my dog before me, just that I discovered that she had dozens of bruises & cuts under her fur the first time I got her a wash & shave. Then, while I was playing with her I noticed that for a quick moments she went into a a quiet fearful bracing position if I had arm above her. It took me a while to realize that she's somewhat fearful of that posture and that her reaction suggest that perhaps she's been struck before.

Now I'm very mindful to avoid such postures anytime she can see me and things are fine now. What I'm saying is that maybe there is something subtle about the people in the house or even the something around the house that your dog associates with bad things from the past.
 
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