Submissive Urination in Dogs

Dealing with Submissive Urination in Dogs

Submissive urination can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem. Fortunately, it is often easily corrected. Shy, timid puppies are the most likely candidates for submissive urination but occasionally it persists into young adulthood. This problem is most common in female puppies under 1 year of age.

Situations that precipitate submissive urination include:

Dogs are social animals that use subtle cues to maintain order and prevent disputes. In order to display deference to a more dominant individual, a submissive dog uses gestures such as averting her eyes, rolling on her back, and urinating. So when a dog feels intimidated or threatened, the appropriate response is to offer a submissive signal. These signals demonstrate that the dog recognizes another individual’s dominance. The urination that occurs is not a spiteful act but a natural part of a dog’s behavioral repertoire.

Before embarking on treatment for this problem, it is wise to contact your local veterinarian. He or she will perform a physical examination of your dog to rule our medical problems that may be contributing to the predicament. If medical problems are involved, your vet will discuss the various treatment options with you like surgery, drugs, and/or various coping strategies.

Note: Puppies become more confident as they grow older. Most puppies outgrow submissive urination before one year of age. Unfortunately, some owners inadvertently encourage the behavior by coddling their nervous youngster. Touching and praise, which you may believe are reassuring your puppy, are actually telling her, “Continue this behavior; I like it.” Instead, try to ignore timid behavior and praise the puppy when she is acting more confidently.

Treating Canine Submissive Urination

There are two objectives in treating submissive urination: The first is to increase your dog’s confidence, and the second is to avoid situations in which the behavior will occur until your puppy becomes more mature. Begin by observing which situations elicit the inappropriate urination behavior. Knowing these, you can design a plan of action.

The above procedures help a great deal in avoiding urination whoopsies until the dog becomes more confident. Positive changes are usually seen in a few weeks, if not sooner. If submissive urination persists after 2 years of age, drug therapy can be instituted at the discretion of your veterinarian. And remember, be patient; accidents will happen.

Prevention is the easiest way to deal with submissive urination. The right style of obedience class can be an excellent confidence booster for your dog. Such classes can also open your eyes to the ways that you unconsciously reinforce a negative behavior, and will teach you the importance of well timed praise (and other rewards) in a healthy relationship with your dog.