Since getting Cooper I have done a lot of research (reading, advice from breeders and vets) on correct ways to interact with your dog, understanding doggy body language and correct ways to train. Almost everything I found talked about how humans NEED to dominate and be the 'pack leader' by doing things like walking through doors first, walking ahead of the dog, eating before the dog, getting the dog to allow you to touch his food etc. It seemed reasonable and these sources claimed that if you don't, the dog gets upset as there is no 'leader' and this is distressing for the dog and may 'force him to become the leader' which can be dangerous.
What I am noticing however is that Cooper just seems terrified when he thinks I will be upset (Say if he runs through a door first and I tell him 'Cooper no'. He just gets extremely submissive (flops onto his back etc) and looks really scared which BREAKS my heart. I do NOT want him to be scared of me!
I also notice he does this when I do something he doesn't want to do (for example when I open the living room door and he runs to the couch and jumps on and I walk over to pick him up off it. He will just flop on to his back like he is scared of me and do that 'whale eye' thing that dogs do when they aren't happy/about to bite/scared/unsure.
I have never hit him (nor would I) or do anything to make him so scared other than tell him off when I see him doing something naughty, such as in pee in the house, chewing the walls etc. To which he gets a "no!". It is beginning to make me think all this 'dominance' thing is just crap. And then I came across an article saying as much.
Using 'Dominance' To Explain Dog Behavior Is Old Hat
The thing that makes me the most sad is that Cooper has always been super submissive to people (always flopping onto his back, showing his belly, avoiding prolonged eye contact, getting down lower etc). Even in the morning when I walk out to greet him he gets super excited but goes to 'flop onto his back' which I try to get down low and avoid eye contact so that he 'trusts' me more and realises he doesn't have to do that. (Which works! I see him go to do the flop and and soon as I get low etc he then comes towards me and starts cuddles/kisses etc)
My question is I feel fearful now that we may have practised these dominance things too much that Cooper may be fearful/scared of us.
Remembering he was always like this - what are some things I can do now to reverse this and build the trust? I feel so bad