Dog peeing on a tree

Key takeaway

 Submissive urination is commonly caused by fears and anxiety in dogs, especially in puppies. You can train your dogs to get over the anxiety that makes them urinate submissively. Learn more about how to help your dogs recover from submissive urination in this blog. 

Submissive urination is a very common reaction in dogs to any change in their daily routine or due to fear or nervousness, especially in puppies. It is also a relatively common behavior in dogs when they are small and in the process of adjusting to their surroundings, accepting their owners’ dominance over them, or gaining confidence. 

Below, we thoroughly discuss how dogs behave when they start to urinate submissively. If you notice the same changes and indications in your dog, kindly visit the nearest vet and get a treatment plan for your dog to resolve this problem.

What Does It Mean When a Dog Is Submissive Peeing?

Untimely or sudden urination caused by submissive behavior in dogs is due to a number of reasons. Factors that can provoke dogs into submissive peeing include loud voices, anger, changes in their daily routine, excessive punishments, and dominance. It can also happen when the dogs feel shy, excited, or threatened by someone or something. 

There are a number of causes for submissive urination in dogs. They include:

  • Your dog is showing submissive behavior as a result of dominance by someone.
  • If the dog has had a history of trauma, shelter experience, or any genetic medical disorder.
  • If you have stopped scolding your dog because they urinate submissively, they might start using this technique and continue to do so to minimize the chances of getting scolded.
  • Quick movements, glaring, or throwing things causes submissive urination.
  • Your dog is greeted by people too excitedly or happily with verbal or physical contact. This may cause him to leave behind a puddle of urine in excitement.
  • Your dog may start to pee submissively if you scold your dog or punish him frequently.
Dog peeing on a carpet

Signs in your dog that indicate submissive behavior, which will ultimately result in submissive urination:

  • Quietly sits with its head lowered
  • Avoids staring in people’s eyes of people
  • Stops wagging its tail
  • Lowers its ears 
  • Lays on its back, exposing the tummy1

Keep in mind that excitation urination and submissive urination are different and not to be confused with one another. Excitation urination usually goes away with time as the puppy grows older, but submissive urination needs special training and certain adjustments to be solved.

What Causes Dogs to Housesoil?

Dogs start to soil the house due to a number of reasons. Their unusual and untimely urination is most generally due to insufficient or incomplete training, triggering behavior due to happiness, anxiety, fear, or nervousness. But submissive urination in dogs can also result from marking behaviors or certain medical conditions, which should be considered. Medical conditions that can cause dogs to urinate submissively include excessive pain, sensory decline, cerebrocortical disease, and cognitive dysfunction.

Causes of submissive urination can include poor training, marking behavior, and fear or anxiety.

There are some medical conditions as well which contribute majorly to submissive urination by dogs. This can happen if the medical condition causes:

  • Frequent or excessive urination
  • Losing control over the urinary bladder
  • Sensitive hearing

The number one reason for dogs urinating  with signs of submission is because of insufficient or incomplete training2. You must try to train your dogs again in a better way as an attempt to stop submissive urination. 

House-soiling is usually due to the absence of owners at the time of urination. They are not trained to know where to eliminate; hence they start to do it at inappropriate places. 

If dogs are trained to identify the acceptable places where they can safely urinate without getting punished or scolded, it is better for their mental health as well. It is necessary that you pay attention to training the dog so they do not soil the house. This requires you to take the dog outside the house to a designated place, where they are allowed to urinate so that they understand that elimination anywhere else is unacceptable. 

It is important to keep checking for signs that your dog wants to urinate and then to immediately take them outside to let them know that this is where they can safely urinate without getting punished or interrupted.

Submissive urination by dogs at inappropriate places is usually due to loss of control on their bladders because they have not adapted to the changes in their surroundings. Dogs with fears of loud voices, movements, storms, rains, and fireworks may also start to soil the house at unusual places.

What Are the Signs of Submissive Urination?

First, you need to understand how exactly you can identify your dog as being submissive. Some signs of submissive behavior that your dogs might show include:

  • Crouching or sitting quietly.
  • Turning over and exposing their bellies.
  • Flattening their ears.
  • Keeping their head or neck down.
Signs of submissive urination

You can identify the symptoms of submissive urination in your dogs when they start to show the following indications or changes in their behavior:

  • Your dog is scared of people or things.
  • Your dog is easily afraid of non-threatening behaviors such as staring, quick motion, or people greeting the dog.
  • Your dog may have a urinary bladder infection.
  • Separation anxiety, such as leaving your dog for a longer time than usual, may cause him to urinate inappropriately. You can read further about how to help a dog with separation anxiety so that you can handle it in a better way.
  • There is no marking behavior for urination taught to the dog due to incomplete training. It can be worse in other conditions, such as when your dog has diarrhea or other stomach problems, and it can't identify where it can eliminate the waste from its body. 
  • Your dog urinates whenever it feels shy, nervous, or threatened as a way to avoid those situations again.
  • Cheerful greeting or playful behavior may also cause the dog to urinate without realizing it.
  • Your dog may start to pee submissively as a way to avoid getting scolded or threatened.

How to Stop Your Dog From Anxiety Peeing

Dogs are easy to train, and you can teach them a lot of things without much difficulty. Submissive urination in dogs is a pretty common condition, and you can easily resolve it by following some steps:

How to stop your dog from anxiety peeing
  • Be aware of what is triggering this behavior in your dogs. For instance, if they get nervous or too excited if a stranger greets them happily which causes the dog to urinate,, ask the person to stop doing so. Instead, it would be better if they just maintained a distance and waved or smiled at your dog.
  • Try to keep the daily routine of your dog as organized as possible. One of the major factors that contribute to submissive urination is sudden and frequent routine changes. You must keep a check on their eating, sleeping, and playing times.
  • Loud voices and anger also cause dogs to urinate submissively; hence they should be avoided at all costs.
  • Asking your friends and family to greet your dog in a much softer way, such as bending down all the way to pet your dog from the side, is much better rather than leaning over and petting it from the front. This comes out as aggressive for the dog, and it can react by urinating unexpectedly.
  • A direct, loud, and overly excited approach to the dogs also causes submissive urination.
  • Introduce your dogs to new changes in their routine, to new people, and to new things gradually, and understand what makes them feel safer or comfortable. Try to avoid things or changes that may cause them to become uncomfortable, such as odd sleep timings.
  • Give special treats to your dogs if they show positive behavior to sudden changes and behaviors.
  • If something or someone is scaring your dogs, try to avoid them if your dog is with you.
  • Play with your dogs and do tricks with them to divert their mind from their fears or anxiety.
  • After your dog urinates submissively, don't ever scold, threaten or punish them for it, as it will definitely worsen the problem.
  • Take your dog to a vet to rule out any medical condition. If you are too busy, you can use telemedicine for pets for this purpose.
  • Do not stare or glare at your dogs, as it might make them urinate in fear.
  • If your dog usually urinates submissively due to the excitement of seeing you after a long day, try to avoid him at first when you enter the house and give him some time to curb his enthusiasm. Then greet your dog calmly.
  • Stop acknowledging them by showing positive or negative responses after they urinate submissively, as it might confuse or irritate them.
  • Pay special attention to building up their confidence as timid and fearful puppies or dogs are especially prone to submissive urination.

Final Notes

Please treat your dogs kindly while they are going through this difficult time. Avoid being too dominant or starting to scold, punish or hover over your dog all the time. It is especially important to realize the factors that might contribute to the submissive urination in your dogs. 

The first step should be ruling out any medical condition by visiting the vet. As discussed above, there are various things that may trigger your dog to eliminate his urine at inappropriate places. So pay special attention to help your dog avoid those situations and implement solutions to help him get over this behavior. 

If you are unable to resolve this condition at home by training, we advise you to visit the vet and start clinical treatment. But if going to the vet is tricky, choose Dutch. Dutch provides virtual clinical assistance for your pets. You can plan and take an online appointment, consult the vet about your dog’s condition, get immediate solutions and recommendations, and get medicines delivered directly to your doorstep.

References

  1. Kuo, Kendon, et al. “Submissive and Excitement Urination in Dogs,” UC Davis Veterinary Medicine. https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk491/files/inline-files/Submissive_and_Excitement_Urination_in_Dogs.pdf 

  2. Landsberg, Gary M., & Denenberg, Sagi. “Behavioral Problems of Dogs,” Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/behavior/normal-social-behavior-and-behavioral-problems-of-domestic-animals/behavioral-problems-of-dogs 

  3. “Submissive urination: Why your dog may do this—and how to help them stop,” Humane Society. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/dog-submissive-urination-solutions