General Question

bellusfemina's avatar

Why won't my puppy come when I call him, and he acts scared of me?

Asked by bellusfemina (808points) June 18th, 2010

I have a yorkshire terrier puppy who is 6 months old. He has been very difficult to house train, and I have had to discipline him for it- usually I will flick his nose or smack him and yell “BAD DOG”... I then take him outside immediately afterwards. Since then, he won’t come to me anymore, and acts like he has hurt feelings or is pissed that I had to discipline him. Now, if I approach him whether outside or inside, he will get nervous and just PEE EVERYWHERE!!! I can’t scold him for peeing if I am making him nervous now can I? I just feel as though my dog is scared of me, and I don’t know what to do. I haven’t smacked him for peeing in a long time, but it’s like he still remembers. Will he ever out-grow this? What do I need to do so my dog will trust me, and come when I call him?? I don’t see the point in having a dog if it’s just going to run away from me all of the time, and pee when I pick him up or approach him. I’m sooooo frustrated! My husband says he can sense that I am annoyed that he doesn’t come when I call him, so it’s making the problem worse. This is the first dog I’ve ever had, so I guess maybe I am doing something wrong. Please help!!

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46 Answers

Facade's avatar

Maybe because you’re smacking him.

bellusfemina's avatar

@Facade- I don’t smack him anymore. I just will flick him on the nose and say “bad dog”. I am new to training a puppy, and maybe I was too harsh in the beginning. I’m just wondering what I should do now. I have a lab/boxer mix who I helped my husband train. He doesn’t hold grudges when he gets into trouble- he just tries hard afterwards to be good. I’m just wondering if maybe yorkies are just super sensitive or something.

Facade's avatar

@bellusfemina I’m the wrong person to be told excuses for abusing and animal. Don’t hit your dog.

Dog's avatar

Have you ruled out a bladder infection? Sometimes difficulty in housebreaking has a physical cause.I would check with a vet.

Secondly try positive training. Treats, praise, love.
Dogs are very loving by nature. You sent conflicting messages by punishment then being taken outside. Outside is now considered part of the punishment.

Try taking your pup out first thing in the morning and when he goes outside praise him.
Try treats and love.
Try fun.

Your dog will forgive you but both of you need to establish clear loving communication.

PupnTaco's avatar

“usually I will flick his nose or smack him and yell “BAD DOG”... I then take him outside immediately afterwards.”—there’s your answer. He’s afraid of you because you hurt him. Shouldn’t be much of an intellectual exercise to figure that out.

Seaofclouds's avatar

He’s afraid of you because of the discipline. The only way to change that is to stop with the physical punishment and use positive training like @Dog mentioned. It will take some time of you showing him love and compassion for him to stop being afraid of you.

bellusfemina's avatar

@PupnTaco – I didn’t come here to be scoled. I have said I am new to training puppies and I need advice. I wish you guys would give me a break and stop treating me like I am some sort of animal abuser. I don’t beat him- a small flick on the nose is just to get his attention. I just need some advice here!

zophu's avatar

The video I linked you to was made for people like you. Don’t feel guilty, it’s just a lack of education, like you say. Just learn more about the subject and do your best to make things better.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Change the way you correct him.There are many good books on how to train dogs.You’ll get farther with more kindness in your corrections.Read,try it and you will see:))

PupnTaco's avatar

@bellusfemina it wasn’t a scolding, just a little flick on your nose.

bellusfemina's avatar

@Facade- I am not an animal abuser. I’m actually a vegetarian and won’t even eat meat because of the horrible treatment of killing animals for food. So don’t even go there! You don’t know me, and you shouldn’t be so blatant with your responses. This is a place to get answers for your questions, not for someone to call you out for “abusing” animals, when that isn’t even the case. So check yourself missy!!!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Relax, and just learn to speak dog. He’ll tell you everything you need to know if you watch closely. Dog’s express everything in their body language. Watch his ears, tail, head position etc. When you learn what he is saying, you will connect much better. And, because he seems timid, never strike him or come at him from above. Coming down on a dog from a higher position is always bad.

namowrepus's avatar

@bellusfemina I don’t think you are an abuser at all…I’ve seen abuse and the fact that you care enough to try and figure out how to do it right proves that. These people obviously don’t know what real abuse is…they are ignorant and self-righteous.

bellusfemina's avatar

@zophu- Thanks, I appreciate your response. I am just not really educated with how to train a puppy. Yorkies are known for being extremely hard to housebreak. I am just trying to get advice from people who have trained puppies before. Not to be called out on being a bad parent to my dog.

bellusfemina's avatar

@namowrepus- Thanks!!! I appreciate your support. I am willing to change my tactics here, I am just seeking the information to do it.

BoBo1946's avatar

patience and love is the key!

What kind of discipline are you administrating?

PupnTaco's avatar

There’s some good advice at the bottom of this page:

bellusfemina's avatar

@BoBo1946- Well now, he is peeing when I ever approach him. I do not scold him anymore for this, because I know he is just nervous/scared of me because of scolding him in the past for this behavior; before I would smack him (not hard) or flick his nose and say “BAD DOG”. To describe my dog, he is kind of a little diva- he pouts when things aren’t just his way. He seems to be a very high maintenance little thing, and I’m also wondering if maybe his breed (yorkie) makes him just really sensitive. (although I know my parenting techniques are not working obviously and need to try a different tactic)

bellusfemina's avatar

@PupnTaco- Thanks for the link. I will definitely check it out!! Thanks for dropping being a meanie-pants in the beginning. lol

BoBo1946's avatar

@bellusfemina Sweetie, they never forget those smacks! never recommend even small smacks when they are that young!... it will take a lot of loving to overcome those smacks. You have to establish that bond. Maybe, at this point, you should consider sending her/him to a trainer. Your frustration will only make matters worse. If you ever establish that bond, he/she will try very hard to please you.

Good luck…

chyna's avatar

Positive reinforcement works best. Take the dog outside often, and to the spot you would like him to potty. Praise him when he pees, poops and give him a treat. Get down on the dogs level instead of towering over him and give him lots and lots of praise and petting when he acts like you want him to act.

Buttonstc's avatar

This is the website for a trainer with a great reputation for many years. He isn’t the flavor of the month like Cesar but he is solid with lots of good articles and advice on the site.

There is also a Forum where you can ask specific questions and interact with other dog owners.

You’ve been through the difficult part already (realizing you were doing it the wrong way). So now it’s all uphill from there.

You obviously have a good heart. But you’re young and lack experience. Now just spend the time it takes to learn from others with more experience.

He’s only 6 months old so it will take awhile. But once you learn what to do, the important thing is consistency.

Truth be told, in the beginning it’s less a matter of you training the dog as it is you are training YOURSELF to anticipate his needs. Once you get into a bathrooming routine that meets his needs, then it becomes a habit for him and you.

Just keep focusing on the positive and praise him and love on him and give treats when he does things that please you.

IGNORE it whenever he has an accident. Yes that’s right. Ignore it. Take him outside but not in a punishing way.

You’re lucky he’s small so you can just scoop him up the second he begins to pee and carry him out to finish. Then tell him how good a dog he is to do his business there. Ignore what happened inside.

There is a basic life principle here. Namely, what you focus upon expands. If you focus on the negative, you increase it.

If you focus on the positive (praising and petting him) whenever he does anything desirable, that’s what will increase.

Go do your homework so that you can enjoy your puppy. He needs time and consistency to figure out what you expect of him.

partyparty's avatar

Your puppy has now become frightened of you, I think you realise this yourself.
Why not trying sitting on the floor, speak quietly and calmly to him, and let him come to you. It may take some time, but do this frequently, and eventually he will realise you are no longer a threat to him.
When he does come to you, praise him, and give him a treat. He will begin to realise that approaching you will get him a reward.
The best way to train a puppy is by reward, never by scolding. Lots and lots of love goes such a long way. Animals can sense our moods.
Good luck, I know it isn’t easy, but eventually I am sure you will gain his trust again.

Buttonstc's avatar


This is wonderful for learning parenting skills as well cuz it works the same way with kids.

Discipline with love and calm works SO MUCH BETTER than harshness and yelling.

Whenever you’re ready to take that step you’ll be ahead of the curve cuz you’ve already refined your skills with this little puppy.

Instead of seeing him as only a source of frustration, think of what a wonderful learning opportunity life has given you with your little diva puppy.

If you can lovingly outsmart him, you’re well prepared if life gives you a little diva kid :)

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bellusfemina's avatar

@Buttonstc- Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. I will definitely start rewarding him, and focus on the good things he does.

partyparty's avatar

@Buttonstc He is looking to you for guidance. Give him lots of praise and love, and you will get this back in return a thousandfold.

gorillapaws's avatar

If you don’t hit your dog then it won’t be afraid of you. I have a great dog who is pretty well behaved, and I’ve never hit him once. It’s simply unnecessary, cruel, and wrong.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

The afraid thing is the clue. He shouldn’t fear you, although you need to establish the pack order with him. In almost thirteen years, I hit one of my dogs once, and that was with an empty gallon milk jug that I used for water. He’d snapped at the other dog for coming near his food. You would have thought I hit him with a shovel by his response. I felt really bad and it was just a light bonk on the head. No hitting.

netgrrl's avatar

Ignore the bad, reward the good.

If he chews on a shoe – punish yourself for leaving shoes down around a puppy.

Don’t say his name unless it’s a good thing. When a dog hears his name it should always mean something good is coming.

It’s going to take time to undo the damage you’ve unknowingly caused & gain his trust.

Perhaps you could just sit calmly with your pup somewhere & have “treatapalooza” – he gets treats just for sitting quietly or really just because. You don’t even have to talk – because your voice might mean there’s something to fear. Watch tv or something and appear to ignore him except to give him a treat every so often.

A tiny dab of peanut butter on your finger might be good. The smell is nearly impossible for any dog to resist & being on your finger means he has to get close to get it. Just put it on your finger, watch tv & wait.

lifeflame's avatar

This is a good website – I learnt a lot from watching his videos
Caesar Milan's%20Tips/657?cat=2

venusjc's avatar

puppies are easy to intimidate, so instead of flicking his nose, try to speak in a stern voice, if that does not work, take newspaper, roll it up and hit your hand with the paper….most dogs do not like that and will give you all the attention you need. This way you did not hit the dog but you got your point accross…also, since it is a puppy, get wee-wee pads and train him to go there…then eventually bring the wee-wee pad outside with you when you are walking him…they usually get the picture…training a dog is like raising a child, it takes a whole lot of patience. Good Luck!!

mbur123's avatar

You have to reward him when he does come. Dogs love to please their masters. When he gets a treat & sees how happy you are when he does come when called, he’ll repeat the behavior. You have to stand tall & be firm when speaking. If he doesn’t respect you as the boss, he won’t listen.

Buttonstc's avatar

If I’m not mistaken, isn’t Cesar the one who started that flicking nonsense?

They even satirized it on an episode of South Park where they brought him in to train Cartman. Everytime Cartman started smartmouthing adults, there was Cesar giving him that flick until eventually he was reduced to a quivering mass, thoroughly cowed.

It was funny on South Park, but whatever they satirize has a point to it.

He is the current hot thing cuz he’s on TV now but he’s not God Almighty in the world of dog training.

There have been well deserved criticism of his methods. They aren’t for everyone, especially a total newbie to dog training.

The other thing to keep in mind is that they seek out the worst cases for him to train so that the change is that much more dramatic. That’s TV for you. Perhaps he can get away with strong control techniques for a tough and difficult dog.

But as we’ve just seen, it’s way too much for a tiny little sensitive pup. He’s now peeing from sheer fear.

Cesar’s methods are questionable and largely unnecessary. I only pay attention to trainers using positive results. They work just as well but it’s not always dramatic enough for TV.

Examples of positively oriented trainers whose materials I would recommend are as follows.

Matthew Margolis (Uncle Matty) PBS.

The Monks of New Skete.
Animal Planet. They both breed and train their own German Shepherds with a waiting list a mile long and train dogs for the general public.

Brian Kilcommon.
My Smart Puppy website and numerous books. Not currently on a regular TVshow but has been in the past as a guest lecturer. He’s been using positive training methods for half of forever and REALLY knows what he’s doing.

Cesar is a nice guy and well intentioned but uses numerous questionable methods.

Just cuz someone is a celebrity doesn’t make them an authority.

Draconess25's avatar

@mbur123 Standing tall only intimidates them. Get down at their level. Dogs are also very responsive to growling.
@Buttonstc Thank you. I’m sick of people thinking Cesar is such hot shit.

Buttonstc's avatar

If anyone doubts what I’ve said about Cesar, do your own research. That’s what Google is for.

Buttonstc's avatar


You’ve gotten a lot of good advice from many people here. Now take the time to look at each resource and do your homework.

Then PICK ONE TO FOLLOW. preferably one with a book you can follow.

The main reason I suggest that is because each dog trainer has their own techniques and organizes them in an orderly progression.

It will be less confusing for you and the pup if you pick ONE method and stick with it from beginning to end.

You don’t ONLY want to get him potty trained. You want a well rounded little doggie citizen ready to take his place in society.

You don’t want a dog who is fear aggressive from insecurity or who jumps all over people either. You want a systematic method to keep you focused.

Just find a book whose author resonates with you instead of picking little bits and pieces all over the Internet. This will keep both of you focused.

As long as the training methods are positive. it’s not as important which one you pick as long as it’s ONE. whichever feels most comfortable for you.(Anybody except Cesar :)

Then just follow it like a textbook one step at a time and be consistent. You don’t have to rush it as you’ve made a commitment to this little pup for the rest of his life. You have plenty of time.

Enjoy the process. Make it fun for you and him.

The main reason I recommend picking one book and sticking with it is because it’s your first dog. Having a road map from
one experienced trainer with whom you feel comfy will make things much easier for you.

Happy homework.

bellusfemina's avatar

@Buttonstc Thanks for the advice! I love the “doggy citizen” thing. That is cute!

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Buttonstc's avatar


You’re very welcome. And after you’ve successfully trained the puppy you can work on your brother :)

bellusfemina's avatar

@Buttonstc HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Yeah maybe I can take them both to obedience school.

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