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Do dogs only cower when they are afraid of being punished?

(15 Posts)
Blackpuddingbertha Sun 06-Jul-14 16:32:32

A dog appeared in our garden today (which gave us and Berthadog quite a surprise). Phoned number on her collar and she'd escaped from a garden a few hundred metres down the road and must have made her way over some disused land and hopped over our fence. Chap said he'd come to get her and I walked her to the end of our lane to meet him. She was quite anxious (in a jumpy sort of way) but relaxed with me and fairly affectionate treats in my pocket may have helped and I expected her to be very excited at seeing her owner, however as he approached she started cowering down. He didn't tell her off or anything although he was clearly a little peeved at her escapology tricks (it's not the first time apparently) and she didn't get stroked or any fuss at all made of her. Anyway he thanked me and walked off with her, but she was still cowering with tail down as they walked off.

Please reassure me that this doesn't necessarily mean that she's used to being 'punished'. Made me feel quite sad. If my dog has been away from me for more than five minutes she reacts like she's not seen me for weeks!

Lilcamper Sun 06-Jul-14 17:23:45

I would say that yes she has been punished previously sad

STOPwiththehahaheheloling Sun 06-Jul-14 17:26:37


Maybe he just has a stern tone that she knows means hes not happy? <hopeful>

Blackpuddingbertha Sun 06-Jul-14 17:37:49


It reminded me of our dog I grew up with. My Dad trained her as a gun dog and was very stern with her. She 'knew' when there was a chance of being told off and would cower in front of him. She never did it to anyone else.

I never want my dog to feel like that. Berthadog ran off a couple of time in her teenage phase. When she came back I gave her treats, I didn't tell her off. I wanted her to see coming back as a good thing as I tried not to cry with relief.

STOPwiththehahaheheloling Sun 06-Jul-14 17:40:37

My stupid fuckwit dad used to shout and roar at our dogs when they ran away. He couldnt get his head around the concept that if they know they're getting bollocked when they come back then they'll choose to stay away. He took it personally, as if they did it to wind him up and then laugh at him hmm

NickiFury Sun 06-Jul-14 17:46:14

She was expecting to be hit.

NCISaddict Sun 06-Jul-14 17:57:19

My dog cowers when strangers come in, until they've thrown a ball for him and then he won't leave them alone. He has never, ever been hit, he doesn't do it when we come in though just to people he doesn't know.
My Springer was past master at looking as if we beat her regularly though and she'd never been hit either. Strangely enough she didn't do it in the house, just outside.
It does look suspicious though I agree.

lilywhite32 Sun 06-Jul-14 18:00:26

If my dog does something wrong he cowers down even though we have never laid a finger on him and we have never shouted at him either. We are confused by it as we have had him since he was 7 weeks old and he reacts like he is terrified of us when he does something he knows he shouldn't have done. So I wouldn't necessarily presume this guy hits his dog.

Owllady Sun 06-Jul-14 18:15:34

My cowers with men she doesn't know and has even wet herself sad none of us have ever hit her, but she is definitely nervous of men. She was a rescue though

Memphisbelly Sun 06-Jul-14 18:18:36

Mine also cowers and sometimes wets himself and we have never hit him, we got him as a pup, the dog kennel called us the first time he was there as he just cowered in his cage, different dog there now he knows them.

YolandiFuckinVisser Sun 06-Jul-14 18:28:33

My bitch cowers a lot. She's sensitive to moods in humans and does the wriggling, tail down thing going into a full submission rolling on her back if she can see that anybody is cross, even if its nothing to do with her. She does the same thing if next door's cat looks at her or if any dog shows any sign of aggression. It can be comical since she's fairly big (rottweiller/staff/boxer/labrador combo) and can be easily intimidated by jack russells, yorkshire terriers etc. She is not beaten or shouted at, she's just a beta female and afraid of being in anybody's bad books. If she ever actually does something naughty then she falls apart when discovered.

Blackpuddingbertha Sun 06-Jul-14 20:15:56

Ok, feeling a bit more reassured that she may not have been expecting a telling off or worse. She was a very healthy looking dog by the way so certainly appeared well looked after. Thank you everyone.

SistersOfPercy Mon 07-Jul-14 20:31:03

My Scottie is a fabulous actor, tell him off and his ears go back, tail slinks between his legs and he runs off to hide in his toybox cowering. Nobody has ever so much as trod on him!

BravePotato Tue 08-Jul-14 07:26:08

Our dog cowers, it makes me feel bad!

We do tell her off sometimes, not shout but just say "don't do that" or "no no" maybe that is already too much???

SignYourName Tue 08-Jul-14 07:30:33

Dogs are very sensitive to body language, so she was probably reading the subtle little signs that told her he was a bit "peeved" - if you picked up on it, it would have been like HD telly to her.

Not necessarily a sign of ill-treatment.

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