Why Dogs Submissively Urinate

January 22, 2011

I received this question from Mindy.                 Hi Dona, My friend adopted a Dachshund and she is having trouble with submissive peeing.  Almost every time they return home, the dog runs to greet them and instantly pees on the floor.  I have told her everything I know – be calm &  ignore him. When you pet or greet him, don’t put your hand over his head but extend it under his chin.  Don’t ever scold him. Do you have other suggestions? She is pregnant and her husband is worried about a dog peeing.     Below is my answer to Mindy.

Hi Mindy, I agree with everything you said; however, here is more information.  First, submissive urination is not to be confused with house soiling or potty training.  Submissive peeing, which is generally an overly excited dog wetting on the floor,  is one of the biggest compliments and form of deference a dog can give to a recognized human alpha or a higher ranking dog.  In canine language it’s the dog saying “I’m all yours and I loooove you”.  It’s the greatest sign of respect from a dog who is allowing himself to be dominated.

Of course, we humans don’t much care for that sort of all-wet, non-verbalized discussion.  If we’re going to be dealing with yuky water, we’d even prefer the labor of washing windows, right?   The good news is that almost always dogs outgrow submissive peeing on their own and will stop that  humanly described, repulsive practice.   In contrast, in the world of the canine, however, another dog would think it’s wonderful for your dog to be such a submissive, obedient member of his pack.    The reality is that the practice is quite common especially among young dogs and more often found in females and overly sensitive or shy dogs.   With equal or more frequency though, it results from the mother dog licking and cleaning the genitalia of the puppy.  It then becomes a reflective sign of respect and submission as it is transferred from obedience to the mother dog and forwarded to the human authority figure.

Observe dog-to-dog behavior.  A young dog will often crouch down in front of an older dog with his tail tucked under, licking the muzzle of the older dog and leave a resulting spec of pee on the ground.  The older dog proudly will accept this pup’s show of accepting the older dog’s dominance and you will never see the older dog discipline for this action.  Try to put yourself in the position of the dog’s situation and learned experience.   Imagine looking way up at a big, tall human who then bends over and with a heavy hand, clanks you on top of the head to pet you.  Try to get a perspective of what things are like from the pup’s point of view.

Should you discipline for submissive urination?   Absolutely not!  If you even feel like punishing the submissively urinating dog, roll up a newspaper and smack yourself in the head, no, no, no…..Read my second article, “How to Stop Dog Submissive Urination”

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