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Submissive Urination in Dogs

What to Do About Submissive Urination

Dogs usually grow out of submissive urination by the time they reach one year of age, even if their pet parents do nothing about it. However, many people find it messy and unpleasant, and some dogs never grow out of it. If your dog or puppy submissively urinates, the following suggestions might help you manage, minimize or stop the behavior.

  • If possible, greet your dog outside.
  • Toss a handful of small treats or a few favorite toys in the direction of your dog as he runs up to greet you.
  • Ignore your dog when you first come home and walk through the door. Wait until he has completely calmed down before interacting with him. When you finally greet your dog, do so calmly. Look off to the side instead of straight at him. Sit on the floor or squat down—and avoid looming over your dog as you bend toward him.
  • Teach your dog to perform a behavior, such as sit, when he greets people. First, practice the sit behavior outside of the greeting context, in a calm place, without other people around. To learn more about teaching your dog to sit, please see our article, Teaching Your Dog to Sit.
  • When you pet your dog, touch him under the chin or chest, rather than on top of his head or ears.
  • Keep play sessions with your dog low-key and play games with him that focus on toys rather than bodily contact.
  • If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) for assistance. To find one of these qualified experts in your area, please see our article, Finding Professional Help.

What NOT to Do

  • Do not look at your dog, touch him, bend over him or speak to him if he starts to submissively urinate or if you think he might.
  • Do not hug your dog or pat him on the top of the head when greeting or interacting with him.
  • Do not scowl or frown at your dog, especially in response to submissive urination. You should even avoid making frustrated comments, as doing so might make the behavior worse.
  • DO NOT VERBALLY SCOLD YOUR DOG OR PUNISH YOUR DOG IN ANY WAY. Scolding and punishment are likely to make the problem worse. The more you yell at your dog, the more he’ll feel motivated to submissively urinate in an attempt to make you less angry.
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WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk. If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.

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