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shadow friend
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sometimes when I look at and talk to Max, he does his best play dead belly up, tail wagging. When I go to rinse his ears out or brush him, again, a lot of times it's belly up. Sometimes he sits but not as often as he shows his tummy. Putting on his harness is getting to be a real pain!!

So my question is with this submissive nature of Max's. I understand that he's being submissive. I think that he's saying, you are the boss mom!! But he says it much too often. What I don't get is if this is a healthy thing - is this showing that he's afraid of me? - is there a way to get rid of this behavior - why is he acting like that in the first place?

He seems like a very confident dog other than this submissive behavioring around me. He isn't seriously afraid of things outside or storms or fireworks or...well, anything we've come across. He loves everyone he meets and doesn't do the belly up thing for anyone but me.

I am wondering if I am the only person whose dog acts like this and has these questions. Any help, experience, or advice would be appreciated. Thanks a lot!!
 

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Murphy does this a lot too, always when I want to put the lease on him or brush his fur. For him, it is definately submissive. It's like he is saying, "okay, put the lease on me now. See how good I am being?"
He never does it when I talk to him though. But anytime my 6 year old son (autistic) comes near him, he will do this. It's like, "alright, I get it. You are a little kid, and I am suppose to just roll over and play nice. So let's get this overwith." of course, his tale usually wags when it's the lease.
I think that maybe your dog just really understands that you are "the man". (well, actually woman). Like, it is a great show of respect. Unless he may have been abused in the past, I don't think that it is anything to worry about.
Or, maybe he is just really hoping for a belly rub. lol
 

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Leo goes on his back every time he is already laying down and I walk over to him. I do not think with him it is not submission, he knows I am a sucker and will rub his tummy.

I also have to say that Leo is very submissive to me. Maybe it is a combination of submission and request of stomach rub. I do believe it is a great show of trust. :)
 

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Humankind. Be both.
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Couple ideas...

If, when you look at him and talk to him and he goes belly up, you then rub his belly, it's probably a learned behavior that he hopes always results in a belly rub.

The belly up when you groom or clean his ears is likely an avoidance behavior... sort of his way of being a wiggle worm to try and get out of having the "procudures" done.

Neither, IMO, are signs of submission in the "I get that you're the boss" sort of way. More like the dog just doing what works!
 

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Jess is also a belly-up girl. Although she quickly learnt that the lead was not going on until she sat up (and sat still!). Even though she is quite timid and submissive I think this gesture is generally because she wants a belly-rub and knows this gets her attention. It's like she can't hold up her weight when someone is petting her and onto her back she goes. I understand how it could be annoying but I think it's kind of cute too...
 

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shadow friend
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Couple ideas...

If, when you look at him and talk to him and he goes belly up, you then rub his belly, it's probably a learned behavior that he hopes always results in a belly rub.

The belly up when you groom or clean his ears is likely an avoidance behavior... sort of his way of being a wiggle worm to try and get out of having the "procudures" done.

Neither, IMO, are signs of submission in the "I get that you're the boss" sort of way. More like the dog just doing what works!

I haven't been patting him on the tummy when he does it for the longest time thinking that he will stop this behavior. I think it's submissive as he submissive pees every once in a while when I reach down to pet him. He brings himself lower to the ground and leans on me when I'm petting him from a standing position. When I'm on the couch or at the computer, he doesn't do those things.

If it is submissive behavior, is there a way to teach him not to do it? I like the halter/leash doesn't go on until he sits nice idea but if I try that, Max may never go on a walk again. :D I am going to try though!! Again, should I be worried about this submissive behavior? He hasn't been abused and he has no reason to be afraid of me. I'm rather tall but he's met people that are taller and he doesn't seem to mind them.

My only other dog shows NO submissive behavior at all. In fact, we've gone head to head sometimes and she has no problem refusing to do something I tell her to do that she really really doesn't want to do so this is new to me. Thanks for your help!!
 

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I was once told, by an animal psychologist/ behaviourist that this behaviour can be interpreted to mean that the dog in question trusts you completely.

On his back with legs and head splayed exposes many vital organs. He would not adopt such a position if he felt threatened in any way. She said it is a form of submissive behaviour, not through fear though, but rather through trust and respect for you.

Dogs...What a fascinating subject they are. I'm still learning new things about them and I've had them in my life for over fifty years now.
 

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the party's crashing us
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Couple ideas...

If, when you look at him and talk to him and he goes belly up, you then rub his belly, it's probably a learned behavior that he hopes always results in a belly rub.

The belly up when you groom or clean his ears is likely an avoidance behavior... sort of his way of being a wiggle worm to try and get out of having the "procudures" done.

Neither, IMO, are signs of submission in the "I get that you're the boss" sort of way. More like the dog just doing what works!
100% correct.
It is a learned avoidance behavior. Aren't you noticing that he goes belly up either as an attention getter/response to attention OR when you are doing something he doesn't want? (putting on harness, cleaning ears, brushing)
Time for him to grow up and stop that. It is very manipulative. It also feeds into his submissive behaviors (urination) that get nobody nowhere.
DO NOT pander to this behavior. DO NOT pay him any attention if he does it. If you need to do something to him and he tries this (brushing, putting on leash, whatever), gently but firmly pick him up by the collar and place him into a sitting or standing position. Be firm and very consistent. Tell him SIT or STAND or whatever. Make it a requirement that he do this rather than lay down. Treat this exactly like a small child crying or whining for what they want...acting vulnerable as a means of manipulating caretakers!
 
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