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Submissive Urination

Submissive Urination is NOT a house-training problem. This is an issue related to fear. In contrast, if your dog is piddling when they are happy to see you, they are more likely doing the happy-pee-dance. How do you know the difference?

Happy-pee-dancers will not take a submissive position, like rolling over, and usually pee from being so excited to see you, they just cannot hold it all back. This is also common in younger dogs.

In either case, you want to take your dog to a veterinarian, first, to rule out any underlying medical issues that will also cause urination control issues.

Other signs of submissive urination are associated with the dogs perception of a threat, not what you intend to do. The urination is usually accompanied by submissive posturing, such as the roll-over, ears back against their head and tucked tail - short wags.

Does your dog urinate during the following situations?

  • When verbally scolded.
  • During greetings with submissive posturing (as described above).
  • Anytime you reach for them, even if it's to pet or reward them.
  • When approached while feeding.

Is your dog anxious, shy or overly timid? Do you know if your dog has a history of being punished, after the fact? NEVER punish after an accident, it will only solidify their perception of fear, which is why they are urinating or defecating on themselves. Usually, the dog isn't even aware they are doing it, only that they anticipate a threat, and are reacting to the potential.

For the happy-pee-dancers:

  • Keep greetings low key, ignoring them for the first few minutes.
  • Use sit command to encourage positive reinforcement, versus negative reactions to the mess you're going to have to clean up.
  • DO NOT scold, as this will just make the problem worse.

Know that young happy-pee-dancers will usually resolve this issue over time.

For Submissive Urination:

  • Keep greetings low key. Avoid addressing their submissive posturing.
  • DO NOT scold as this can make the problem worse.
  • Let your dog come to you for attention, instead of trying to force or entice them to you.
  • Approach your dog from the side, avoiding dominant posturing over them.
  • Approach with your shoulder pointed at them, instead of your head.
  • Bend down to their level, bending your knees versus bending over them.
  • Pet your dog under the chin versus on the head.
  • Never use food to lure them, as you can create feeding issues.
  • Use command training to help them build self-esteem and confidence. Every dog wants to please and be praised.

Every step you take that allows your dog to develop a trust with you, helps them develop a trust in themselves. Giving them a sense of purpose, without a sense of punishment to follow, is the key to helping your dog overcome the "impending doom" they feel that causes them to urinate out of fear. Be patient, be consistent and your dog will overcome.