While I thoroughly believe training can go a long ways into helping situations such as this, one has to remember that many of these little guys are tramatized as young pups, and sometimes all the training in the world will not change their *fear*.
I for one have 3 little dogs whom all have come from abusive situations; and let me tell you, it can be a very trying experience upon yourself to take on and can take years, if ever, to get the dog passed what fears him.
My chihuahua is 8yrs old, I've had him since he was a year old...best dog in the world in terms of having tought himself very good manners, except he is deathly afraid of the word *come* and taking him to the dog park with a gozillion bigger dogs around....forget it. He had been chained in a backyard his hole first year of life and had bigger dogs constantly picking on him, that doesn't mean he can't tolerate them one on one, as long as they know their manners as well.
2nd dog is a 5yr old female pomeranian who lives life as a cat, literally. She's deathly afraid of ALL kinds of noises, does not like to be picked up, shakes and hides terribly. BUT, she LOVES to eat, play with the chihuahua (when no one else is around) and go for car rides...she came from a horribly neglected/malnourished home as a puppy whom was thrown in a playpen and ate nothing but cottage cheese her whole puppy-hood. She weighs 3#, but only weighed a little over a pound when we got her 4.5yrs ago. ...we've had her for 4yrs, and have made VERY little progress because she is not very easy to train, she's delicate, not food motivated (though she does like to eat), and is a nervous freight train. Vet does not care to put her on a sedative or other medication for longterm cause she's too tiny. This dog has been a testimate to our patience trust me....cause if the house is not quiet enough she will not eat, will not come back inside, and it gets WAY too cold for a 3# dog to sit outside too long, plus we live on a couple of acres, so we always have to go out and find her in the dark.....you know what it's like looking for a 3-4" dog in an open yard/field of yucca plants, evergreen trees, sage bushes in the pitch darkness??
Mind you, this dog not only came neglected/malnourished to us, but she had also been abused physically, already had an emergency hysterectomy at her less then 1yr of age because she was carrying pups that she was too small to deliver without dying herself.
We have done EXACTLY what trainers have suggested. Close the door to her crate so she can't *hide* all the time, slowly make increasing noises as time goes on, in other words, 4yrs ago we were told not to bombard her all at once, but to make slow changes in her life so she could learn to become a normal dog. 4yrs later, we've managed to turn her into a physically healthy dog, she's gorgous, she's outgoing with our other 2 litte dogs, and she comes out of hiding when she wants to go for a walk or a car ride...but that's it!
She even hates tile and linoleium flooring, which makes it very difficult to making sure she's drinking enough water, most of the time I end up putting water in her food to make sure she gets it.
3rd dog is a 6# Pomeranian who was 9mnths old when we found him abandoned in a truck stop dumpster. He IS a fear biter, but only if you make too sudden of a move or if you startle him, he also has very mild seisures from some type of injury that caused bone spurs on the edge of his spine near his neck...his biggest fear is of someone touching that area. He is on supplements to assist with luxating patella's, and to hopefully prevent serious neck arthritis when he ages. Per 3 vets and an orthepedic surgeon he is not experiencing pain, but can experience discomfort if moved wrong, jump wrong,etc....BUT he does have a fear of anyone ever touching him there, my guess is someone severly abused him prior to throwing him in the dumpster.
He knows how to sit, lay down, etc. ...but to ask him to *get over* his fear biting of when someone moves too fast, or too close will take years to overcome...AND also the responsibility of making sure (on our part) that he ONLY comes into contact with people who understand NOT to push their limits/luck.
I highly understand if he were a bigger dog it would not be acceptable, nonetheless, one can still be held accountable for a small dog too. For this reason, we do NOT allow anyone outside of the household to even touch this dog, exception is friends/family who is aware of this dogs situation.
Socializing him at a dog park is not possible, there are too many big dogs that could gravely injure him. And, many problems that ARE brought on from unsocializating many of these small dogs is because lack of dog parks for SMALL dogs....Not anyone of my 3 little guys could ever be walked into our local dog parks, most of the parks are real nice, with nice dogs, for the most part....but bigger dogs just love to cuddle the small dogs so much that they can't breath.
Prior to these guys...we had a 17yr old pomeranian whom we got when she was 2yrs of age. She too had been chained in the backyard, beaten constantly, had an injured front leg, seisures, had to fight for her food, etc. My Mom used to be a school bus driver and would pick up kids at the rear corner of the lot to this house where Amber spent her 2yrs hooked to a chain that weighed more then she did. For MONTHS my Mom would walk to the doorstep and ask the owners if she could take the dog, she even offered to pay money for her...they wouldn't allow it, and kept insisting that the dog would be used for breeding. My parents contacted animal control SEVERAL times, of whom would only make stops by the house to make sure the dogs were being fed and had water....see animals were not looked at the same way in terms of their *rights* in the late 70-80's like they are now.
My Mom watched this dog suffer for 2yrs, finally my Dad told her to offer them $300 for her. We got her at that point....however, it was a VERY trying time for the first 2yrs of her life with us. She had seisures so bad from being abused that she remained on deaths door for months, she got sick at the slightest drop of a hat, always coming down with some type of bacterial infection cause her immune system from having lived her first 2yrs in the Colorado's winter cold temps with NO shelter and only concrete to lay on really put a factor in the whole slew of things. It wasn't until she was nearly 6yrs old that we could really start working with her, as it took her quite a number of months to get her seisures under enough control that she could live life and eat, let alone train her to not be afraid of us.
She remained seisure free from about 7yrs on, after thoroughly bringing her health back in order, but she never did take to men...in fact, she would ONLY go to my father on HER request, never his own. He just learned to accept that and knew it had nothing to do with him personally.
Your brothers are traumatizing this dog by trying to scare it and that should NEVER be allowed...I don't care what people say, dogs do NOT forget.