What is Submissive Urination in Dogs?
Submissive urination is a dog’s uncontrollable, instinctive reaction to the presence of another dog or human that they feel is superior or intimidating to them. It is a subconscious response that cannot be controlled. While it is not a housebreaking issue, it is more likely to happen when the bladder is full. This behavior can often be a reaction to a specific action, such as putting a leash on the dog or simply leaning down to stroke him.
Difference Between Excited Urination and Submissive Urination in Dogs
Excited urination is different because a puppy usually grows out of this reaction. Submissive urination, however, often has to be overcome through training. Dogs read body language exceptionally well, and we, as owners, sometimes give off the incorrect signals, resulting in the dog offering submissive gestures such as urination. Fear, lack of confidence, sensitivity, confusion, and nervousness can also result in submissive urination in older dogs. It can also be triggered through inappropriate punishment, although this is not always true.
Why is My Dog Peeing When Submissive?
When dogs feel overstimulated, threatened, or too intimidated, they could experience submissive urination. It is most common in puppies, but older dogs who are not appropriately trained can also exhibit the behavior.
Dogs that have been adopted may experience insecurity and demonstrate submissive urination due to not being aware of the house rules in their new home.
Your Dog’s Age
Young puppies under 12 weeks may express submission by urinating, which usually ceases as they grow older. Puppies lack bladder control, which may account for unexpected incidents of urination. Housetraining helps animals understand the signs they need to urinate and increases their ability to control it.
If your dog anticipates you leaving, it may involuntarily pass urine due to the stress caused by your absence. When you return home, your pet may display an excitement-related urination response, different from submissive urination but can indicate insecurity due to your absence.
How to Stop Submissive Urination in Dogs
You should never punish submissive urination—it will only worsen the problem. It is important to remember that your reaction and body language to the problem can intensify it, so be sure not to cause fear or anxiety for your dog.
There are many things we can do to minimize submissive urination. The primary training goal is to build confidence and redirect the dog’s mind to actions other than urinating when concerned or excited.
Ignore the Behavior
Please don’t attempt to reassure your dog or reinforce his actions. Keep quiet but relaxed. Ignore his problematic behavior. When your reaction to unwanted behavior is notable, you are rewarding the behavior.
Clean Up Messes Privately
If he urinates, don’t say anything, get him outside, and then clean up without him seeing you do this. By taking this step, you can avoid rewarding the behavior while conditioning him to associate urination with going outside.
Praise Good Behavior Calmly
Do not call him up to you when out in the yard but walk slowly around with him to familiarize him with the environment. Give him a command to urinate and praise him calmly only when he obeys.
Be Slow and Non-Threatening
Do everything slowly and work at making your body language calm and unconcerned. Keep the verbal volume low. Be non-threatening. Don’t stare at him or show displeasure, no matter how you feel.
Give Your Dog Regular Potty Breaks
Take your dog out regularly to do business so his bladder will not build up pressure. Smaller puppies will need to be taken out more frequently than adult dogs. Look for behavioral clues such as pawing at the door, sniffing around, pawing at the leash, or sitting and staring at you. Once you recognize the clues your dog gives when he needs a potty break, you can prevent unexpected messes in your home.
Adopt Training Practices to Prevent Submissive Urination
You can train your dog in several ways to help curb submissive behaviors.
Participate in basic obedience training, make it fun, and build his confidence. This training is beneficial for your dog beyond curbing submissive urination. Training teaches your dog how to act and react to avoid barking, biting, and other antisocial behaviors. Discipline, exercise, and affection blend nicely during training.
Take Training Walks
Spend time sitting with your dog by your side on his leash. Take him for walks to expose him to the situations that trigger his urination gradually. The more you open your dog to new situations, the more opportunities you will have to train the appropriate behavior you expect.
Crate Training to Prevent Dog Accidents
Use a crate when you cannot supervise your pup. Put the crate near a door to let him get outside quickly and prevent an accident. Regarding submissive urination, the crate should not be used as a punishment. You want your pup to think of the crate as a positive experience.
Crate Training Tips
Do not go straight to his crate when entering a room. Allow him to calm down first before letting him out. When you go to let him out, do so quietly. Don’t talk to him.
Crating a pup has many benefits. A crate allows your dog to have a space independently and helps with potty training. Be sure to get a bigger container as your puppy grows.
The crate should be large enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down. If you get one too large, there will be enough room for them to urinate at one end and sleep at the other, so getting the right size is vital.
Familiarize Your Dog With Others Gradually
Familiarize him gradually in small stages with noises, people, and other dogs. Don’t rush him into situations and experiences. Build up his comfort level gradually.
Avoid Stressful, Uncontrollable Situations With Your Dog
Avoid situations and people you cannot control until your dog learns to control himself and gain confidence. Ask friends to practice no touch, no talk, and no eye contact around him.
When you are in a public place, there are some ways you can kindly ask strangers not to touch your dog. You can tell people your dog is anxious, needs space, or isn’t friendly.
Planning Ahead Can Alleviate Stress
Planning is essential to prevent behavior issues when taking your dog out of your home environment.
Plan Where You Are Going
Will there be other dogs? Maybe take your dog to a shopping center parking lot as an introduction to being a public space.
Plan What Time You Are Going
Sometimes, leaving a half-hour earlier or later can make all the difference.
Plan The Tools You Will Use
Bring along treats that can be easily accessible with a treat bag attached to your person. A head halter might be a good option as it allows you to control your dog’s head if they struggle with impulsive lunging at other pups or people.
Plan How You Will Respond
Having a plan of action should a situation arise is essential for maintaining control of your emotions and your dog’s reaction.
Submissive urination can be annoying, but exhibiting your frustration to your dog only makes it worse. You can minimize and overcome the problem with some planning and attitude adjustment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Submissive Urination in Dogs
How can I differentiate submissive urination from other forms of urination?
Submissive urination in dogs is a behavior that is often exhibited when a dog is scared, anxious, or feels intimidated. Dogs that are submissive urinators typically assume a submissive posture, which involves lowering their body and tucking their tail between their legs. In contrast, dogs that are marking their territory may assume a more upright posture.
The context is also important to note: submissive urination often occurs in situations where a dog feels intimidated or anxious, such as when meeting new people or other dogs.
Is it possible for a dog to outgrow submissive urination?
Yes, it is possible for a dog to outgrow submissive urination, especially if the behavior is related to fear or anxiety in social situations. Many puppies and young dogs may exhibit submissive urination as they are still learning to navigate new social environments, but with proper socialization and training, they can learn to feel more comfortable and confident.
Are certain breeds more prone to submissive urination than others?
While submissive urination can occur in any breed of dog, some breeds may be more prone to the behavior than others. This is because certain breeds are known to be more sensitive or anxious, which can make them more likely to exhibit submissive behaviors in social situations.
However, it is important to note that breed alone is not a reliable predictor of submissive urination, and each dog is an individual with their own unique personality and behavioral tendencies.
Should I punish my dog for submissive urination?
No, punishing your dog for peeing submissively is not the solution. Submissive urination is a behavior that some dogs exhibit when they are feeling anxious or fearful. Punishing your dog for this behavior will only make matters worse, and could even make your dog more anxious and fearful.
Instead of punishing your dog, it’s important to understand why they are exhibiting this behavior. You can work on building your dog’s confidence through positive reinforcement training and providing a calm and supportive environment.
Have tips or tricks that have worked for you? Please share below.