Treating Submissive Urination in
Dogs and Puppies

Among the many behavior problems dog owners may face, submissive urination in dogs and puppies is perhaps one of the most frustrating and embarrassing.

While the problem is most commonly seen in young puppies, if not dealt with in the correct manner, submissive behavior in dogs may well perpetuate into adulthood.

Submissive urination is not a house training problem; therefore, it is imperative for dog owners to recognize that a dog urinating submissively is not doing so in spite; rather, the behavior is a natural component of the dog's repertoire of social behaviors.

Fortunately, this behavior is treatable and some puppies may simply grow out of it as they grow older and mature.

The Most Common Submissive Urination Candidate

Dogs most likely to urinate submissively are generally young puppies and dogs under the age of 1 year old. However, in some cases when the problem is not addressed properly, the behavior may occasionally persist into adulthood. This behavior is also common in dogs that have been abused or mistreated.

Females are generally more likely to be prone to this problem than males, and shy, timid puppies are the most commonly affected.

In adult dogs, submissive urination is a sign of insecurity. In puppies, it signals that they have not yet learned other means of showing respect.

Submissive Urination in Dogs

Understanding Dog Submissive Urination

Dogs are social animals which abide to a variety of social behaviors in order to maintain order in their pack and avoid confrontations. Among these social behaviors are included gestures meant to demonstrate deference to other dogs or people perceived to be higher in status. Rolling over and urinating is often a puppy's way to convey submission and is often displayed as a response to something perceived as intimidating.

Puppies also tend to urinate submissively when they are excited. The behavior is often seen when puppies greet their owners after being separated for some time or upon meeting new guests. It is always helpful to consult with a veterinarian any time a puppy or dog displays inappropriate urination so to rule out any medical problems.

How to Treat Dog's Urination Due to Submission

After ruling out medical problems dog owners must evaluate the circumstances that elicit submissive urination in dogs and puppies.

Many dogs urinate submissively in response to a perceived threat; for instance young puppies may feel intimidated by people looming over them, making direct eye contact or patting them on the head. Older puppies and dogs may urinate submissively after being talked to in an authoritarian tone or after being scolded. Submissive urination in dogs is simply the dog's way of saying "please don't hurt me!"

Positive reinforcement training, loads of socialization and some canine sports such as agility, may work wonders in building your puppy's confidence.

Always remember to praise your puppy or dog anytime you notice signs of him taking initiative or displaying confidence. Try your best to avoid situations in which you have noticed the problem to occur in the past.

Most importantly, never scold your puppy for an accident; try instead to ignore it and clean it up with an appropriate enzyme-based dog urine cleaner. The more you scold your dog, the more he will urinate submissively, ultimately creating a challenging vicious cycle.

How to Treat Puppy Submissive Urination Due to Excitement

If your puppy urinates any time you come home, you will need to work on making your return low key so to minimize the excitement.

This means no more excited talking and petting the moment you open the door. Rather, try to ignore your puppy for the first few minutes and go directly about your business at least until your puppy appears in a calmer state of mind. The same rules apply to any guests coming over.

If your dog is still urinating from the excitement of simple seeing you, it may be helpful to call your dog outside for the first few minutes so to offer the opportunity to empty its bladder.

Tossing a few treats icon away from yourself may help distract your dog and keep its mind off the exuberant greeting ritual. Once calmer, you can diminish submissive urination in dogs by greeting your puppy in a non-confrontational manner: simply crouch down sideways to his level and talk to him in a calm tone of voice.

Submissive Urination Towards Other Dogs

In the same way submissive urination in puppies takes place towards people, it may also occur when around other dogs.

Upon being approached by another dog, puppies and particularly submissive dogs may feel the need to roll over their backs and urinate submissively as a way of acknowledging the other dog's superiority.

Submissive urination in dogs in this scenario is simply conveying to the other dog the message "I am not challenging you", and therefore, it helps keep the dog safe and out of trouble.


It is best to avoid exposing your puppy to other dogs with a tendency to bully or act too assertively.

Here is a brief video that talks about some of the things we just covered in this article...

Final Thoughts...

As much as submissive urination in dogs may sound like a big problem, the good news is that most puppies outgrow this behavior as they mature and build confidence.

Make it a good habit to ignore your dog's submissive urination and work on increasing the confidence levels of your puppy or dog. Best of all, accept submissive urination in dogs for what it is: a natural, completely normal behavior that will eventually cease.

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