I have a 6 month old lab/beagle mix that was rescued from a shelter.
From what I understand there were about 100 dogs at the shelter she came from (we didn't go there ourselves, she was transported to us). She was abandoned with her siblings at an early age, and we got her when she was about 4 months old.
She has always had a timid/shy temperament, although she is the sweetest thing and great with small kids. She also gets along great with cats, but is afraid and cowers when another dog comes near her.
She shakes and is visibly scared. Is there a way for her to learn to be more relaxed with other dogs?
Also, lately she's been peeing wherever she stands when she hears a loud noise or when visitors come in. She is housebroken and has never done this before. We just enrolled her into obedience training hoping that socializing her with other people/dogs will do her good.
Is this a phase that she will grow out of, or is this part of her temperament that we will have to deal with?
Hi Erika Well, it sounds as though your little girl has been through a lot in her short life. It's not really surprising that she's nervous and 'skittish'. However, whether it's part of her basic personality (genetic) or whether it's due to her life circumstances you may never know. I would hazard a guess that it's a bit of both.
Now that she's been lucky enough to find a good, loving home, with lots of love and patience I expect you will be able to overcome a lot of her 'issues'. She may never be a loudly confident dog or the life and soul of the party, but she should be able to feel comfortable around other dogs and people, and enjoy social activities. However, it will take time and effort (on both your part and hers). It won't necessarily be easy, but I'm sure it will be worthwhile.
Enrolling her in an obedience class is a good way to begin some socialization in a controlled environment. I would suggest that you read my Socialize Your Puppy page and follow the links to the other socialization pages and articles you'll find there. You'll get lots of tips and ideas on how to help her feel more comfortable.
The urination you mention is called submissive urination. It's a reflex action and she doesn't really have control over it. It's often seen in submissive or nervous dogs, more often in females, and it's a canine expression of submissiveness. When she's scared or intimidated she will urinate to show 'respect' to whoever (or maybe whatever) she is scared of.
The best way to handle this is to ignore it. If you make a fuss or tell her off, she'll think she's not been clear enough and be even more nervous. This leads to more submissive urination and so it goes on. Encourage people to use slow movements and low voices around her, and to crouch down when greeting her. They seem less scary or intimidating that way. Also keep your own greetings or instructions (and even scoldings if necessary) low key. She will respond better to low, calm voices.
I wish you the very best of luck with her. She's got a wonderful new home and I hope you'll all be very happy.