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How to Prevent Submissive Urination

How to Prevent Submissive Urination

Submissive urination is often found in puppies and insecure adult dogs. Let me show you how to prevent it by changing the way you approach your dog.

What is Submissive Urination?

You’ll often notice that puppies and sometimes also adolescent and adult dogs release some urine when you bend over to greet or pat them.

When we first got our dog Tibo from an animal shelter, we couldn’t touch him without him leaving wet traces in front of our feet (if we were lucky) or on our shoes. At the time I racked my brains to find an answer.

  • Why does he do it?
  • When does he it?
  • To whom does he do it?

As I mentioned mainly puppies and insecure adult dogs exhibit this behavior. You’ll often observe this submissive behavior during greeting rituals and also in situations where your puppy perceives aggression. This may happen for instance when a dominant adult dog or you approach the puppy.

Why Does Your Puppy React Like This?

The answer is simple. Submissive urination acts as a distraction. By releasing urine, the puppy diverts your attention or that of the dominant dog from him to the urine. The message is clear: “I’m small, submissive, totally insignificant, and no rival.”

This knowledge did not prevent this rather unpleasant behavior by my dog, but it gave me important clues:

  • A dog with this behavior feels inferior, maybe even threatened
  • He wants to divert attention

How Can You Prevent Submissive Urination?

So, I started experimenting with Tibo and changed my behavior towards him. This brought good results quickly. The lessons I’ve learned are summarized below.

Follow these guidelines and the problem behavior will diminish and finally disappear:

  • When you come home ignore your puppy initially even though he may be excited to see you
  • Don’t look him in the eye. Your puppy perceives this as aggression.
  • When you walk up to him, point one shoulder towards him. Don’t face him directly.
  • Never bend over your puppy. In his eyes this is pure aggression! Rather sit on your heels and turn a shoulder in his direction. Avert your eyes and let him come to you.
  • If your puppy does release urine, ignore this completely and don’t shout at him. Scolding him will only reinforce the unwanted behavior

If you apply the above tips your puppy will in all likelihood still release urine a few more times. You should however observe a marked improvement in his behavior. If he continues, check your own behavior first:

  • Am I still too dominant?
  • Did I unconsciously make a threatening gesture?
  • Am I for some other reason stressed or irritated?

When Tibo was a puppy he was so insecure initially that I had no choice but to turn around when he approached me. He thus first greeted me from behind. Since then he was “dry” and we just had to be careful when we said hello to him in the morning.

Today he is a happy, confident (more than for his own good) adult dog and submissive urination is a thing of the past.