As I have mentioned in other posts a couple times, Tommy is a rescue golden retriever that we adopted when he was 6 months of age. We don't really know what his first home was like except that it wasn't a particularly happy one and he lived chained in a yard, and after he was surrendered, was discovered to have poison in his blood (strychnine I think, common in rat poison).
Well Tommy is 3 years old now. Some of the problems we had for awhile after we got him (big problem with submissive urination), have almost completely resolved. However he's still pretty shy and fearful around people he doesn't know (not typical for a golden), and he cringes and cowers when an object is being held towards him, unless it's his own toys which he is familiar with. It's really heartbreaking for me and I have tried various things, such as when he cringes to the duster, sitting down with him and the duster and letting him smell it, and praising him when he works up the courage to sniff it.
Some dogs are just naturally timid of new things, but it isn't very typical of a golden I don't think, and I suspect strongly he has been hit with objects, because of his fearfulness and cringing. Tasha is somewhat timid-natured (loud noises, unexpected shadows, strange people), but she has NEVER cringed or acted fearfully when I've held an object over/towards her. To the contrary she thinks it's an invitation to play with some new toy.
I was taking a spoon out of the dishwasher tonight and nearly stumbled over Tasha who was interested in what was going on. I playfully shook the spoon at her and she immediately did her play bow and wagging and growling playfully, but Tommy who had been nearby ran and hid in the hallway and was hesitant to come out when I called him.
I'm just not sure what to do about it. It breaks my heart, truly. I can't bear the thought of someone hitting him. I should point out if I raise my HAND above him, he's fine. It's only if I'm holding something. It's so specific that I feel pretty certain it is a buried memory in him of something bad that happened before. Any suggestions/ideas on how to help this situation?
Of course, it goes without saying he has NEVER been hit here.