Submissive Urination

What is it and why does this happen?

Submissive urination is an appeasing social signal. Some dogs urinate involuntarily when they become excited or when they want to exhibit submission. It is as likely to occur with a dog who is housetrained as with one who is not. In other words, housetraining has nothing to do with this. Punishment will only exacerbate this behavior.

What triggers this?

Eye contact, vocalization (especially baby talk or stern voice), looming over the dog, touching the dog, sometimes just approaching the dog can cause it to happen. It frequently occurs when the owner returns home or visitors to the house greet your dog.


•Never scold or punish your dog in any way for submissive urination. This will frighten and confuse your dog. It will increase the submissive urination. It will destroy any progress you have made.
•Begin management by ignoring your dog when you first return home. Do not look at, talk to, stand over or touch your dog. Either take your dog outside and greet or try ignoring for 10 minutes before greeting. Also instruct visitors to ignore your dog when they arrive.
•Avoid from giving direct eye contact until the dog has calmed down.
•Refrain from “baby” talk, but do not use harsh, commanding tones. Talk in a matter-of-fact, normal tone of voice.
•You may find it helpful to teach your dog to eliminate on command to empty your dog’s bladder before “hot times” (such as a visitor’s arrival).
•Start giving your dog something else to do, another response in greeting context:
–Teach your dog to fetch a toy, then instruct dog to go fetch that toy when you arrive home or are in a situation that usually elicits submissive urination, or
– Give the dog a treat or bone—the dog becomes involved in the pleasurable act of eating/chewing, thus replacing the submissive urination response, or
–Play tug with your dog to elicit another hard-wired behavior, predation.
•Continue to train your dog with rewards-based methodology to instill confidence and self-esteem and strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

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