Home Dog Training Submissive Urination in Dogs: What Is It and Can You Stop It?

Submissive Urination in Dogs: What Is It and Can You Stop It?

Submissive urination is a common problem seen in dogs, and it isn't usually something that you need to worry about. This behavior is when a dog urinates in response to fear, stress or anxiety. Submissive urination in dogs is most commonly seen in puppies who haven't gained their confidence yet, but occasionally it is also seen in adult dogs.

Submissive urination is a fear-based behavior, so interrupting your dog while he's doing it will not solve the problem. You'll need to figure out what is scaring your dog and try to work on building confidence around this issue.

When you're housetraining a dog, you would stop them while urinating in the house, relocate him to a spot outside and allow him to finish “going” while outdoors. With submissive urination, you may actually make the situation worse by getting angry or trying to redirect your dog in the middle of peeing. He may become more afraid, and it will be much harder to stop the behavior.

So, how can you recognize submissive urination in dogs? Why do dogs do it? Can it be stopped? I'll get to the bottom of all of these questions and more in the following article.

Submissive Urination in Dogs
what is it and can you stop it?

submissive urination in dogs

One of the first things that you'll need to figure out is whether or not you're actually dealing with submissive urination in dogs. There is a good chance that you're dealing with submissive urination if your dog pees under these circumstances:

  • when someone in the home is using a loud or angry voice
  • when approached by a person or new animal
  • when there is a loud disturbance such as thunder or sirens
  • while in a submissive postures (crouching, rolling over to expose his belly, tucking his tail, etc…)

If your dog pees when greeted by a new person or animal but he does not exhibit submissive behavior, he's likely suffering from a different problem – excitement urination.

Dogs who exhibit submissive urination are usually timid, anxious or especially shy. They may have a history of abuse or be particularly stressed. If the guidelines for your dog's behavior change or members of your family have different expectations for your dog's behavior, this can increase his stress level, create anxiety and cause submissive urination.

How to stop submissive urination in dogs

If you're still reading this article, that means you're likely dealing with a case of submissive urination. So, now that you know what it is, how do you stop this behavior? It can be done, but you'll need to be consistent and get every member of your family on board with your new canine behavior plan.

If your dog has just recently started this behavior and it is abnormal, consider seeking veterinary assistance to rule out any potential medical causes. If your pet has shown this behavior consistently or is normally a timid dog, building his confidence through positive-reinforcement is what needs to be done.

  1. Keep his routine consistent. Timid dogs will become stressed when their routine changes. You'll also need to advocate for your pet in new situations. For example, if you have company come to your house, speak up for your dog. Let the new person know that your dog is timid and doesn't like to be approached.
  2. Teach people to approach your dog appropriately. Tell them to avoid direct eye contact, keep their voice low and calm, and bend down at the knee instead of leaning over the dog. Tell them to wait until the dog approaches them. If your dog does go over to the new person, tell them to pet your pup under the chin rather than on the top of his head or behind his ears.
  3. Slowly introduce your dog to new people and new environments. Reward your dog with high-value treats, and try your best to ensure that all new experiences are positive.
  4. Never force it! If your dog is uncomfortable, don't force him to go into a new environment or approach a new person. When you see that your dog is becoming uncomfortable, create some distance your dog and what he is afraid of.
  5. Eliminate odors. If your dog does submissively urinate, be sure to clean the area and completely eliminate the odor. If you don't remove the odor, your dog is more likely to urinate in the same spot repeatedly.
  6. Never punish your dog. Submissive urination is your dog's natural reaction to stress and fear. You should not punish him for that. It's not his fault, and punishing him will just make him more fearful.

Be patient. It will take time to condition your dog to respond more appropriately to stimulation. This process could take months or even years depending on the dog’s history. To get the best results as quickly as possible, consult a professional trainer that has experience with submissive urination.

READ NEXT: Frequent Urination in Dogs – What It Means and What You Should Do

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.