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My puppy is really submissive/afraid with other dogs. Low back, tail between the legs, turn on his back when other dogs come to play with him and won't let any dogs smell his butt. That being said he absolutely loves the dog park. He runs toward it, become crazy excited in the car when we go near it, wag his tail like crazy when inside the park. He goes to every dog to sniff them. He let dogs sniff his face and his privates, when a dog owner pull his dog away from mine, he will run toward the dog to continue playing.

I can tell he wants to play, he will run toward other dog and then turn around in a "chase me" style, but if it works he runs toward a safe spot (a human, a fence, under a bench...) and play with the other dog there.

My dog is small (Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, ~15lbs / 7kg) and he is 6 months old. His behaviour is the same no matter the size of the other dogs, no matter if they are exited or really calm.

What should I do to increase his confidence. Any thing I should do/avoid? When he is playing I never pick him up I watch closely and in the rare occasions where the other dog is "too much" I will gently push the other dog away, but that doesn't happen often.

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  • Your first two sentences seem to contradict each other. Are you describing dog-park versus non-dog-park? Are you describing on-lead versus off-lead? What is the difference in circumstances that changes the behaviour? – chasly - supports Monica Jan 26 at 11:53
  • No same in dog park and non-dog park. He is afraid, but happy to be there. on leash and off-leash doesn't change anything. – Alexandre Rondeau Jan 26 at 15:25
  • You say, "he won't let any dogs smell his butt" but then you say "he lets dogs sniff ... his privates". This seems a fine distinction to make. I still don't get it. Dogs don't usually distinguish between sniffing butts and sniffing privates. Are you saying that he behaves one way when dogs want to play with him, but another way when he wants to play with them? – chasly - supports Monica Jan 26 at 15:55
  • if the dogs come the front and go for his penis he will let them do it, if they come from behind and go for his butt he will turn around. He always behave like that when a dog come to sniff him. Face sniffing good, penis sniffing/licking goo, butt sniffing hell no – Alexandre Rondeau Jan 27 at 16:51
  • Usually animals become averse to others touching areas that are or have been painful. If he has ever experienced pain in that area (especially a nip at his tail or backside from another dog), he might be cautious about being approached from behind. Puppies learn from painful experiences and remember them for a long time. If this is the cause then there is a simple answer. If not then I wouldn't worry. My first dog was happy with loud music, fireworks, thunder and lightning, road machinery, etc. but, if someone sneezed, she would run and hide. – chasly - supports Monica Jan 27 at 19:38
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In short: you don't have to do anything.

Your dog is excellent at communicating with other dogs. The submissive body language is very normal for puppies and in addition to signalling possible fear, it's also a signal that he doesn't want a fight. This is very good dog-to-dog communication in a public place with dogs that might be strangers to him.

As he grows older he might become less submissive in body language, but even if he doesn't, that's no need to worry at all. In human terms he's a very friendly and well-behaved dog who introduces himself before engaging in play.

The only things I would try to avoid are:

  • If he rolls onto his back and whines loudly at the same time another dog might be too aggressive for his taste. You should intervene and push the other dog away.
  • Him sitting on your feet or very close next to you and watching the other dogs without playing. This can be a sign of protective behavior and can lead to aggression if another dog comes too close to you.
  • Him covering behind your legs or beneath the bench you're sitting on or trying to climb you. That signals he's afraid of something and tries to hide away. If he only stays a short while and then continnues playing, there's no need to worry.
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  • That makes me happy, in the rare case where he whines when on his back, that's when I push the other dog away. If the dog keeps coming back I ask the dog owner to take his dog away if not I'll move in a different section of the park and if nothing helps and the aggressive dog continues well play time is over and we will be back tomorrow – Alexandre Rondeau Jan 26 at 15:27
  • When he just watches he is usually a couple of feet away from us. He likes to bring other dog to us and then play between/around humans. Doesn't need to be me, any human will do. I think your explanation are making me more confident that as he grow older he will get more character – Alexandre Rondeau Jan 26 at 15:29

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