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Submissive Urination ... What Is It?

Some dogs urinate as a way to show loyalty and submissiveness to their owners. It's not an issue of housebreaking, but can be a nuisance nonetheless. Understanding the behavior can help alleviate it.

Dogs are animals who instinctively operate in pack behavior. There are animals who are the alphas, exhibiting dominant behavior, while others fall in line behind and take the submissive role.

There are different signals of submission. A dog may lower his ears, lower the posture of his body, roll over, or urinate. A dog who urinates at the feet of his owners is showing in no uncertain terms that he knows the owner is the boss. It's actually a compliment to the owner but may not be viewed as such.

Dog owners often chastise a dog for submissive urination, but this can only compound the problem. Showing the dog any sign of aggression can only make the urination worse.

Generally dogs grow out of this behavior as they age from puppies into adult dogs. Others can learn to become confident and cease many of the submissive acts.

Until dogs grow out of certain submissive behaviors, there are strategies that dog owners can employ to help alleviate the problem of submissive urination.

* Determine the cause of the behavior and try to avoid gestures or things that will trigger the urination. For example, some dogs urinate out of excitement or a lot of activity at the door. Minimizing excitement at the door can help fix the problem.

* Bend down when addressing the dog. Stooping over a dog can seem aggressive. Going down to his level can put a person on the terms of the dog and reduce feelings of intimidation.

* Don't yell at a dog for submissive urination. Simply ignore it occurred and wipe up the mess. Drawing angry attention to the incident can exacerbate the problem.

* Some dogs do not like direct eye contact. If a dog urinates from direct eye contact, avoid it and gradually work to develop the dog's confidence with praise when he is looked at in the eyes.

* Loud, booming voices may trigger urination. Some dogs feel men are dominant and get nervous around them. Household residents should speak calmly around the dog, including when greeting the dog.

Submissive urination and housetraining problems are two separate issues that require different tactics.