Submissive Urination: How to Curb It

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November 2, 2010
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When a dog submissively urinates, it is because their instinct is telling them someone or something that is superior to them is intimidating them. It’s an unconscious response that they cannot control. Try to not mistake as a housebreaking issue, it isn’t. It’s a reaction to something as simple as someone standing over the dog, having a leash put on, or leaning down to pet him.

To overcome this problem, you have to work on retraining your dog and retraining yourself. Dogs read body language and sometimes we may give off an incorrect emotion through our walk, our facial expressions, and our movements. We might seem angry when in reality we are just in a hurry or we may seem confrontational when all we want is to do is put on a harness or leash.

Fear, lack of confidence, confusion, and being nervous can all result in submissive urination.

What to do

  • Never punish submissive urination because that will increase its likelihood and increase the anxiety and fear your dog may already be experiencing. You can unintentionally increase the problem.
  • Don’t reinforce the action by saying, “It’s OK” or talking in a sweet voice. This can also create a higher chance of the problem repeating.
  • Ignore his posture and behavior. Keep your posture and movements relaxed and don’t move too fast like you did.
  • Familiarize your dog in small stage with noises and actions that seem to create this unwanted response. Don’t rush him.
  • Take it slow and move closer and close to situations that used to freak him out as his confidence grows. Build him up gradually.
  • Do basic commands to help build confidence and rebond with you.
  • Take him out regularly to potty and keep his bladder from being full.
  • If you crate or gate your dog off, don’t go straight to his area when you first come home. Allow him to calm down first. You can smile and wave but don’t create a rush of excitement or anxiety.
  • When you do let him out, try to not bend over him. Get down on one knee. Get on his level to break the feeling of you looming over him. If he pees, ignore it. Take him out to do his business and clean up the urine without him seeing you doing this.
  • Move slowly with him, get him used to the idea that you aren’t intimidating and praise him when he does something that is acceptable.
  • Work on making your body language calm, unconcerned, and relaxed. Keep your voice volume low. No yelling or excitement. Try to be non-threatening.
  • Take him for walks and expose him to situations slowly that may trigger his urination.

Submissive urination is annoying and can take time to correct. Try to not exhibit your frustration because that can make the problem worse. Watch your attitude, emotions, and work towards the goal of creating a confident pup and a happier you! If you can’t seem to figure out what works best, consider talking to a professional trainer and your vet because sometimes it is not just a behavioral response but also a physical problem.

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