Submissive Urination

  Many dogs display their submission to a human or another dog by urinating upon greeting.  This is normal behavior that dogs will do in a pack.  A submissive dog urinates to show they are a follower and will not challenge leadership.  Most often these dogs are referred to as the omega in a pack.  The omega is the lowest member that the rest of the pack uses to take out their frustration on.  While in the wild this is not an issue, in someone’s house it can be quite frustrating.  While it is possible to conquer the problem, it does take a long time.  An omega must feel they have risen in the ranks, which requires confidence-building techniques.

  Before we begin to discuss a plan of action, I recommend having your dog checked for any health problems such as kidney or bladder issues.  Frequent urination, concentrated urine, or uncontrollable urges to urinate can be a warning of many different health concerns.

  If your dog is checked by a veterinarian and has no health issues, the best way to overcome this is with extreme patience.  You cannot correct a dog for submissively urinating.  If you do the problem will become worse, as they will urinate more to please you.  If an alpha dog in a pack shows disapproval an omega will continue to urinate until the alpha walks away or takes the “pressure” off. Putting “pressure” on is what dogs do to display dominance.  The way this works is by standing over them, giving them a hard stare, or growling.  When the pack member submits to the pressure, the alpha walks away or takes the object they wanted.

  Keep this in mind while working with your dog to help them get through this challenge.  Remember not to “growl” at them by getting an angry tone in your voice.  They are just trying to please you.  Also do not scowl at them or give direct eye contact, the best thing to do is not look at them but instead look at the ground or “blink” rapidly.  Blinking rapidly shows you are not upset.  Standing over them is another dominating stance.  Try to kneel down with your body facing sideways.  A full frontal stance shows assertiveness, which will be followed by submissive urination.

  When you come home, do not talk to your dog. Your voice if excited may spark their excitement as well.  It is best to walk in and ignore them for at least 10 minutes, or just walk to your back door and let them outside without speaking.  If you live in an apartment and your dog is in a kennel, wait a few minutes before letting them out.  Then walk over open the door, and ignore them until they are calm.  I like to give them a command for their leash being put on.  Do this randomly during the day, while handing them a treat with one hand, say, “leash” and clip the leash to their collar.  Give them soft but happy praise each time you do this.  Giving the action a command will put them in their “work” mind.  Be patient as this could take a couple of weeks to accomplish.  Once the action has a command they will typically feel confident about being leashed.

  When company comes over it is important to have them also ignore the dog completely, as your dog will instinctually try to please them as well.  This can be difficult, as most people want to greet a dog immediately, but be persistent with them.  After a good 15 minutes, your dog should be in a calm state.  Have your company throw a treat on the ground to your dog and praise them calmly.  They should not hand the treat to them. If your dog seeks attention from them, have them look away from him/her, and scratch under their chin.  Do not allow them to pet or pat them on their heads.

  Another good confidence builder is to start working on other obedience commands.  The more a dog learns and feels successful the more confidence they will build.  You can put them in a class setting, if it is a controlled class.  Meaning, all the dogs are on leash and the instructor makes a point to keep the dogs in control.  If you find this type of setting, your dog will see the other dogs will not try to “dominate” them either. 

  Always remember to stay calm.  If you feel yourself becoming angry or frustrated, walk away!!! Come back in a few minutes when you can be calm.  Your anger will only make it worse. 

Tara, Brandie, Amanda & the “pack”

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3 thoughts on “Submissive Urination

  1. Shiloh does this quite often…tonight he got on our bed and peed on it. We didn’t see him do it, so we don’t know what the situation was. It’s so frustrating. I’m hoping he will get better after he starts his classes with you guys. I have noticed when he is around other dogs he lays down as well.

  2. How do you deal with the situation when it is solely triggered by interactions with the alpha female dog in your house? Our 1 year old started submissive urinating whenever she greets our alpha female- who is very dominant. I have ignored it for the most part and tried distracting the 1 year old but the behavior continues. Should I be trying to modify the alpha’s behavior? I’ve tried to discourage the alpha from her displays of dominance in the past but she has a very strong personality and usually only has to look at the other dogs (the 3rd is an omega) to convey her displeasure or dominance (overriding my invitations for the other dog to enter a room for example). Any suggestions? All advice I’ve seen so far involves addressing the human behavior.

    1. Hi Jean, I would focus on taking the rights away from your “alpha” female. Hire a local behavior trainer to help you through this since a very strong willed female could decide since you are not the protector, she won’t have to listen to you. If you have the protector rights (or “alpha”), your other pack members will look to you and not her. As long as she is the one in charge, the other dogs have to show her submission, or be corrected. Take the pressure off them and take that role back.
      Tara and the pack

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