Submissive Urination

Applicable For:
  • Dogs

In every litter of dogs there are dogs that have what is considered a normal temperament, a dominant temperament, an independent temperament and a submissive temperament. Dogs with a submissive temperament are great as they never push their owner for the pack leader position, and owners usually do not have problems with them guarding food or toys, dragging them down the street or having other dominant behaviour. However, submissive dogs tend to be very shy and timid, and many are nervous and high strung. Submissive dogs require a very calm owner as they get startled easy and can become fearful.

A fairly common problem that occurs with submissive dogs is submissive urination. This is when the dog dribbles a few drop of urine on the floor when its owner comes home, someone comes over, or when they get in trouble. Many people think submissive urinating is a housebreaking problem, but it is not, it is an anxiety problem. Submissive urination is generally caused by too harsh of training techniques or from having an owner that is not in control of their emotions. However, it can also be inherited or stem from a past abuse.

In the wild, wolves lower on the pack hierarchy will submissive urinate to show their pack leader that they respect him as pack leader and that if they did anything to upset them, they are sorry. Dogs that submissive urinate usually do so when they greet their owner, but may also do so when they get in trouble or if someone tries to pick them up. Submissive urination is a conditioned reflex and most dogs that do it are not even aware they are doing it.

As submissive urination is due to anxiety, dogs should never be scolded or disciplined for doing it. Disciplining a dog that submissive urinates will only increase its anxiety and make the matter worse.

To help a dog with submissive urination issues:
When going out and coming home, owners should be as calm as possible and ignore the dog until it is in a calm state.
To help distract the dog from being too anxious, when coming home, toss a treat on the floor for the dog or give it a command like ”sit” to do.
Don’t lean over the dog to pat him, instead owners should squat down so they are on the dogs level and rub its chest.
Using positive reward focused training, work obedience with the dog daily to help build its confidence. Always focus on rewarding good behaviour and ignoring bad behaviour.
Owners should never lose their temper with the dog or physically punish it.

Like most behaviour issues, submissive urination is easiest to stop before it starts, than after. Owners need to be calm stable pack leaders that dogs can respect, but not fear. Puppies should be well socialized and taught basic obedience to help them build confidence. Good dog owner never needs to physically discipline their dogs or treat them harshly.