Dogs who engage in submissive urination can be difficult pets, as they’re consistently producing puddles and correcting the dog can do more harm than good. In fact, many dogs who engage in this behavior cannot control it and often, the dog is urinating due to fear and nervousness.
In short, submissive urination is not a training problem; it’s a problem that’s rooted in emotion. Therefore, you must approach it as an emotional problem, not a training issue.
There are a few keys to helping a dog who pees.
Begin a training regime to build confidence
Confidence-building is a huge component of eliminating extreme submissive behaviors. Training is a wonderful way to build a dog’s confidence; he finds it very rewarding to receive praise and treats from his alpha.
The type of training is really up to the owner; it’s the training process that’s beneficial to these dogs. If a dog is well-versed in the basics like “sit,” “stay” and so forth, opt for more advanced training, like teaching tricks. Building confidence through training will serve to tackle the root problem of submissive urination — a lack of self-confidence and extreme submissiveness.
Actively build the dog’s self-confidence
When the dog looks up to you during a walk, praise the dog by name. She’s looking to you, the alpha, for reassurance. Praise the dog whenever she does something right. Sit on the floor — get down to the dog’s level — and offer treats. This gesture is very meaningful to the dog, as the alpha is sharing something very valuable (food!) Encourage the dog and praise her when she acts confident.
Identify situations that result in submissive urination
Keep a log and document each incident. Note what was occurring when the dog’s accident occurred. You’ll find that your dog is apt to urinate in certain situations. Once you’ve identified the scenarios that are associated with submissive urination, you can work to change the dynamics of those situations.
Change the dynamic of situations associated with submissive urination
Intense emotions (both negative and positive), arrivals and departures, very dominant behavior on the part of other humans or other pets, yelling/raised voices and other factors are most often associated with submissive urination. Work to change the dynamic. For instance, if your dog is urinating in response to intense emotional situations, work to neutralize emotions in those situations. If yelling, raising your voice or using a harsh tone is problematic, work to lower the volume and neutralize the tone.
Notably, it can be difficult to provide an extremely submissive dog with feedback concerning negative behaviors. For instance, verbally scolding a dog with a harsh “NO!” can serve to exacerbate submissive urination and other submission-related behaviors. Therefore, for a period of time, you may need to do away with providing feedback in response to negative behaviors. Instead, interrupt, redirect and praise the dog when he does the right thing. This approach is more successful with extremely submissive and fearful dogs.
Really, you will need to focus on the dog’s lack of self-confidence, extreme submission, nervousness and fear before working to remedy any other behavioral or training problems.
It’s important to note that you should never scold a dog for submissive urination. This will only make the problem worse. The dog is not in control when he urinates in a submissive situation, just as a human cannot control urinating in an extremely fearful situation. And it’s not about the need to go to the bathroom; it’s a response to a mental state. Therefore, you must work to change the dog’s mental state; once you do this, the problem of submissive urination will be resolved.
To confirm that your dog is, indeed, submissive, see our related article titled “Is My Dog Submissive?”
Photo Source: David Mota on Sxc.hu
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