Submissive Peeing in Dogs: A Common Canine Quirk

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Submissive Peeing in Dogs: A Common Canine Quirk

Submissive peeing is a common
Submissive urination is an involuntary canine behavior often stemming from a mix of excitement or submissiveness.

Have you ever bent over a dog only to be met with an unexpected stream of urine? You’re not alone. Submissive urination, though frustrating for humans, is an involuntary canine behavior often stemming from a mix of excitement or submissiveness. While it’s not always clear what exactly submissive urinators are afraid of, it’s believed that it’s commonly associated with feelings of insecurity, anxiety, or a lack of confidence in certain social situations, which may include interactions with their owners, other animals, or unfamiliar humans.

Very often, submissive dogs respond to these encounters by rolling on their backs and sending up a stream of urine, which is their way of acknowledging the other person (or dog) as “the boss.” It’s something dogs might do to show their lesser status in the pack. Sometimes puppies grow out of this behavior, and sometimes they don’t. Understanding the underlying triggers and addressing them with patience and positive reinforcement can help manage
submissive urination in dogs, leading to a happier – and drier – home environment. Here’s how to address the issue.

1. Never punish your dog. A correction or loud voice establishes dominance that may result in even more submissive peeing. Always use positive reinforcement and reward your dog for confident behavior with treats, praise, or playtime. Building their confidence in non-threatening ways can help reduce anxiety and submissive urination over time.

2. Make introductions gradually. Introduce your dog to other people or animals outside before bringing them into the house. Ask friends and family to avoid greeting your dog too quickly. They should ignore the dog for a few minutes and wait for the dog to approach them before engaging, as this can help reduce some of the dog’s submissive impulses. They should also avoid bending over the dog to pet or greet the dog. Bending over a dog is a dominant posture contributing to this involuntary submissive behavior. Instead, ask people (including all friends, family, and you) to squat down next to the dog to pet them and pet your dog under the chin rather than on top of the head. This will help increase their confidence and eventually result in fewer submissive behaviors.

3. Create a Calm Environment. Ensure your dog has a safe and comfortable space where they can retreat if overwhelmed. Training your dog to lay on a mat or go into an open kennel gives them their own space to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed. Having their own place where they are never bothered can significantly reduce stress and anxiety, positively impacting their behavior.

4. Increase your dog’s confidence through training and socialization. Gradual and positive exposure to various people, environments, and situations can help build your dog’s confidence. Consider enrolling in a positive reinforcement-based training class to help your dog learn to navigate social interactions more comfortably. Take your dog for walks in the neighborhood so they can get used to being around other animals and people. Avoid dog parks, as they may reset pack hierarchy and hinder your dog’s progress.

5. Practice patience and consistency. It is crucial to consistently apply these strategies and be patient with your dog’s progress. Submissive urination often requires time and a calm, steady approach to see significant improvement. Celebrate small victories and maintain a supportive attitude throughout the training process.

Following these simple steps can help your dog feel more secure and reduce instances of submissive urination, resulting in a more relaxed and enjoyable relationship with your furry friend.

With over 35 years of experience advocating for animals in the field of animal welfare, Cathy Rosenthal is a seasoned expert dedicated to improving the lives of our furry friends. Explore her books and programs
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Cathy Rosenthal (aka The Pet Pundit), CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 35 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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