Submissive urination in dogs can become a constant source of frustration and embarrassment to many dog owners who have a dog with this dog behavior problem.
That’s what prompted one frustrated dog owner to give me a call. She thought her dog was doing it on purpose. My first step was in helping her to understand what was going on with her dog; then teach her the steps to fix it.
Let’s Define Submissive Urination
Submissive urination is a dog’s uncontrollable urge to urinate when approached by another dog or human. It is totally different from a puppy’s urge to urinate out of excitement when greeted. Puppies usually always outgrow this behavior problem on their own.
Dogs that submissively urinate when approached are not doing so on purpose. They are merely submitting to what they view as a more powerful dog or in their eyes, an intimidating person.
Submissive urination in dogs is a behavior problem that needs to be corrected using positive steps and with positive reinforcement training.
First things first – fact-finding
If you have a dog that consistently wets with pets, look back at past occurrences and ask yourself the following questions:
• Does it happen when you get home from being away?
• Does it happen when you or someone else is facing your dog?
• Does it happen when you or someone else leans over your dog?
• Does it happen when you raise your voice or punish your dog?
• Does it happen when you get excited?
Your mind set, energy and emotions
Preparing yourself to tackle a problem like submissive urination can be challenging.
You must understand how your dog interprets your energy and actions.
Your internal energy, whether good or bad, impacts your body language and actions. Your body language and energy feeds information in a non verbal way allowing your dog to sense your intentions.
Outwardly expressing calm energy to your dog brings him a sense of safety, peace and comfort.
Without worrying about your intentions, he then becomes more receptive to your training. By you staying in a calm state of mind, whether you are training or not, tends to set the stage for your dog’s success.
If you can identify the cause of the submissive urination, the problem can usually be cleared up in about 6 weeks depending on the severity of the problem and your skill in handing the program.
Remove any and all threatening signs
Remove any and all threatening signs that would cause your dog to submissively urinate. These would include:
• Direct eye contact
• Hand over head
• Excitement at homecomings, etc.
Correcting the problem – first find a starting point
The objective here is to know where your dog’s trigger point is on submissively peeing.
In other words, at what point does he pee:
• at some point when he is approached,
• not until you bend over him or just as you begin to pet him.
What You Must Do
If your dog pees when you or anyone approaches, do not approach your dog. Instead, let your dog come to you.
If your dog comes to you and he seems under control, pet him lightly under the chin briefly but do not talk to him. If he pees, withhold petting for about 4 more days and don’t look at, talk to or touch your dog during this time. This is critical in keeping him successful.
Now begin to click/praise/treat for each successful and closer approach to you without submissively peeing. If you praise, do not praise to the point of excitement, keep it low-key.
You should not be petting at this point. Treat after you click/praise.
Condition your dog to understand that your click or praise means “exercise over,” “you did it!” and follow that with a treat.
Begin extending the length of time he stays before clicking/praising so that you build on the length of time he stays upon approach without peeing but still without petting.
Gradually add petting briefly without talking. Then eventually add a calm, brief “Hello” to the brief pet.
Once you have been successful with just you for a week, begin to add visitors but require them to go through the same process with your dog.
If at any point your dog makes a mistake, do not punish. Instead go back to a step in the process where he can succeed and stay there until his confidence and success builds. Then slowly move forward.
Throughout this program remain calm, patient and understanding. Your dog will sense your mood, become relaxed and things will progress more quickly.
Once your dog can successfully approach you without submissively urinating, begin a program of obedience training your dog to come, sit and down 3 times daily just for two minutes as a way of building confidence and following your lead.
All dogs need to understand rules, personal space boundaries and what their owners expect from them. Your submissive dog is no different. Setting Ground Rules for your dog will lower his stress and reinforcing you as a strong role model. With your dog problem fixed it becomes a win-win for you both.
I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me. Do you deal with this situation in your house? Let’s talk about it.
“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.