Submissive Urination – Not a Housebreaking Problem
Submissive Urination is Not a Housebreaking Problem
Believe it or not, this is not a house training problem. It has to do
with some normal canine behavior patterns that you can and should deal with
in a positive way.
Dogs are instinctively programmed to accept the
authority of creatures (animal and human) that they consider to be superior
to them. They seek the approval of their superiors and are eager to please
them. Many dog owners prefer a dog who is submissive to people and eager to
please, and selective breeding has produced many domestic dogs with this
Some dogs are more submissive than others. Very
submissive dogs, shy dogs that lack self-confidence and often young pups
will urinate when in the presence of more dominant dogs and humans. It’s
their instinctive way of telling the superior “You are my Supreme Master.
Your wish is my command. Please don’t hurt me!”
outgrow this behavior as they mature. Dogs who are naturally shy, insecure,
extremely submissive, or who have been abused may continue to exhibit
submission in this way even as adults. It is generally an involuntary,
subconscious reflex. The dog isn’t deliberately trying to do it. As a matter
of fact, he may not even be aware that he’s doing it at the time!
Many dog owners mistakenly believe that this type of urination is a house
training problem, and try to correct it with discipline. To their dismay and
frustration, rather than improving, the dog’s problem gets worse! Because
the message he’s sending is misunderstood by the owner, the dog is caught in
a vicious cycle – his instincts tell him to urinate to please his superior
by showing submission. But when he does, he is punished. He then tries
harder to please by urinating even more. This results in more punishment,
and still more urination. After a time, the dog may become so confused and
insecure that he urinates at the mere sight of a human being or another dog.
If discipline won’t solve the problem, what will? Your task is to take
the excitement and stress out of the periods that previously triggered
submissive urination. Get cooperation from all members of the family. When
you first get home, you can anticipate that the dog will get excited and
urinate so you need to minimize the excitement. Instead of an enthusiastic
greeting to your dog, quietly walk in the door and go about your business.
Let him outside to pee as usual, but without any fanfare. If you talk to him
at all, just say “Hi Rover” in a calm, casual tone of voice. Don’t make eye
contact with him or pet him. After he settles down, very gently crouch down
to his level presenting to him sideways (this makes you very
non-threatening), then calmly and quietly praise him and tell him he’s good.
Be sure to tell your family and visitors to do the same.
everything you can to boost your dog’s confidence. As he becomes more
confident, he may feel less of a need to display extreme submissive
Positive reinforcement obedience training does wonders for
a dog’s confidence! An untrained dog is doesn’t know how to communicate with
humans or how to behave, but the trained dog understands what’s expected of
him, and the words you say to him. He’s confident because he has the tools
with which to please his superiors.
Socialization at training classes,
dog daycare, at the park, or just going with you on errands and to visit
friends can do wonders for your dog’s confidence. Have guests over who are
willing to help out with this problem.
Agility training is another
wonderfully fun way to boost your dog’s confidence using physical obstacles
and mental stimulation as well as new human words to understand and obey.
Incorporate basic obedience (Sit, Stay, Fetch, Come, etc.) into your daily
life and when your dog obeys, he gains confidence through your praise. Just
don’t overdo the praise (this can result in a puddle!). A simple “Good boy”
and gentle pat is enough.
Minimize the occasions your dog makes you want
to scold him; think about what your dog does that causes you to scold him.
For example, does he get into the trash, steal your children’s toys or chew
on your sneakers? By simply putting a lid on the trash can or putting it
into a closet and requiring your family to pick up after themselves, these
situations can be eliminated.
The easier you make it for your dog to do
what you want, the quicker he’ll learn and his confidence will grown. On the
other hand, discipline, scolding and physical punishment will simply reduce
his confidence and worsen your submissive urination problem.
especially shy or submissive ones, are very sensitive to body language and
tone of voice. Bending over a dog is a “dominant” posture that may provoke
an accident. Instead, get down to your dog’s level by crouching or kneeling,
preferably at his side rather than head-on.
These dogs are often
intimidated by direct eye contact as well. Look at your dog’s face without
looking directly into his eyes, and only for very short periods.
are expecting guests, take your dog for a walk and get his bladder emptied
ahead of time, and restrict water consumption for an hour before your guests
are to arrive.
When speaking to your dog, use a calm, confident, moderate
tone of voice. Avoid very high or low extremes in pitch. Don’t “coochy-coo”
or babytalk to your dog either. These tones can create excitement that
results in submissive urination.
Don’t scold or punish your dog for
urinating submissively. It will only make things worse. He can’t be held
responsible for something he doesn’t understand or even know he’s doing.
Instead, use these methods to get to the root of the matter: His basic
insecurity and lack of confidence. When he’s made progress in these areas,
submissive urination often disappears on its own. How long will it take?
Every dog is different and it’s impossible to say for sure. With most dogs,
following our directions will show a noticeable difference within a short
time. Solving the problem altogether depends on your hard work, patience,
consistency and willingness to stick with it.