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Submissive urination

Extract from Aunty Kaye’s Doggy Dictionary of Training and Behaviour

If a puppy or young dog releases urine (a few drops or quite a puddle) when it is approached, this is not a toilet training problem. Nor is it a sign of disobedience. It is entirely involuntary. It is a submissive gesture which is part of the dog’s instinctive behaviour.

• The origin of submissive urination

When a pup is born, it cannot perform its own toilet functions. The dam rolls the pup onto its back and licks it to stimulate urination. This is the origin of rolling over as submissive behaviour, and also of submissive urination. It is a response to a creature (whether human or dog) which exerts dominance over the pup. As the pup grows, it may urinate in response to a dominant look from its dam.

• Submissive urination in the older pup

Older pups that have left their litter and have begun being trained by people may still urinate submissively in some situations. Usually these include times of emotional stress, excitement or apprehension. Typically it will occur when the pup is greeting you, when you approach the pup, especially if you tower over the pup or use intimidating body language or a dominating tone of voice.
Remember that you must judge what is dominating or intimidating from the pup’s point of view – it is not a matter of your intentions, but of how it comes across to the pup.

Don’t get cross if your pup or young dog has a submissive urination problem. That will only make matters worse. Try being very low key and non-threatening. Greet your pup after she has calmed down.



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