Thursday, December 10, 2015

Correcting Submissive Urination

Making a few simple adjustments in your daily routines can give your dog confidence and correct unwanted behaviors.

Submissive urination happens when a dog is lacking in confidence and eliminates upon greeting as a doggie way of saying, “I’m deferring to you, please don’t hurt me!”  There is usually a genetic component at play (i.e., the dog has a softer, less confident temperament), but this issue is almost always exacerbated by punishment.  Even a mild verbal reprimand can be enough to send some dogs down a worrisome slippery slope. 

Don’t Punish Your Dog 

Often, what people are punishing a dog for is not what the dog thinks he is being punished for.  For example, if you come home to find a piddle and reprimand your pup, you may think you are teaching him about housetraining, but the dog may actually be learning that people coming home or walking up to him is scary. 

Don’t Comfort Your Dog 

Comforting words, however well intended, will reinforce any undesirable behavior and make it worse.  It is best to say absolutely nothing or to start talking about something neutral – sports, the weather, etc. – so your tone of voice and cadence is perfectly calm and confident. 

Simple Tips to Halt Submissive Urination 

1. Refrain from verbal or physical reprimands of any sort.

2. Teach your dog to have a new emotional response to the situation.  Ask your dog to “Sit” before greeting you or another person and offer a high value treat from your hand.

3. At the same time, you should practice teaching your dog to hand target and then transfer this skill to others once your dog is doing it confidently with you.  A dog who knows how to greet by confidently touching a hand to say “Hi” is far less inclined to submissively urinate.

4. Work with your dog to give it confidence, teaching commands and engaging in walking and other activities that are positive and burn off any anxious energy.  A confident dog will not engage in submissive peeing.

Andrea Arden, CPDT
Andrea Arden Dog Training
New York, NY

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