Submissive urination in dogs is part of the language between dogs
which dictates which dog is dominant and which dog is submissive. It can affect
both male and females of any age. It is an
important part of socialization amongst dogs. However, dogs also see us humans
as a part of their pack and may display submissive behavior towards us.
Anything the dog perceives as a threat can cause submissive peeing. A perceived
threat could be something as simple as a human towering over them and stretching
out their hand to pat them on the head or a sudden loud voice.
Visitors may also be deemed as dominant and your dog may display
submissive behavior and will urinate if they attempt to pat him or acknowledge
Typically, submissive urination occurs either when you greet your puppy or
dog or when it experiences verbal or physical punishment. The dog may roll on his back
or side exposing his belly or he may cower down. Other submissive signs are
laying the ears back, tucking the tail between the legs and avoidance of eye
contact. This behavior is more
commonly seen in puppies and small breed dogs although all breeds can experience
it. Most puppies will grow out of it.
How to Prevent Submissive Urination
Greeting your dog:
When you come home don't touch or pat your dog. Calmly say hello
verbally and then carry on with other business. After about 5 minutes (after the
excitement of your returning home has lessened) approach your dog or puppy and
bend, kneel or sit down on the floor so you are more at his eye level rather than towering
above him. This is a less dominant position. Try not to make eye contact.
Keep things low key and try not to cause too much
Don't pick him up or pat him on the head or
approach him anyway from above. Wait for him to approach you then try scratching
him under the chin. Don't make any sudden moves and always speak in a quiet calm
If he can obey a few commands try telling him to
sit or shake, then reward him for obeying a command with an encouraging voice.
"Good boy, well done." This will encourage positive behavior while taking his
mind off being submissive.
Food or toy rewards are useful. Reward him with a
treat during the greeting when he is not displaying any submissive signs.
If he begins to pee adopt a happy voice and try to
change the subject. Suggest something he enjoys. For example, you could say
'Where's your ball? Let's play ball' or 'Come on, let's go outside to play'.
Try to avoid shouting at your dog and definitely do not use any
physical punishment. This will only make matters worse.
Build the Dog's Confidence
A good confidence building exercise is a game of tug of war. Play
with an old towel, an old sock or a soft toy. Allowing the dog to win the game
will boost his confidence.
A word of warning: Be aware that too rough a game of tug of war
can damage your dog's teeth. Try not to get too rough. Puppies especially, can
lose teeth during a tug of war game.
Grooming builds confidence. Groom your dog daily. Brush him
and handle him for a few minutes every day. He will soon learn to enjoy it and
will realize that you mean him no harm.
Slowly and gradually introduce him to as many new things as
you can. Socialize him to get used to kids, cats, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers,
other people and any other new sounds and experiences you can think of. Aim for
a least one new experience a day.
Exercise is a proven confidence booster. Take him for lots of
walks and praise him along the way. Let him get used to the sights and sounds of
Gradually your dog will gain confidence and the submissive
urination will stop.