Submissive Urination | Animal Friends

Guide / Submissive Urination

Elena Barnard

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Some dogs will have a habit of urinating inside the house despite having been properly trained as a puppy. If the dog urinates whenever he or she gets scared or intimidated then it may mean that they are doing it as a sign of submission. Puppies do this quite a lot as they are still learning about their relationship with their owners and are often oversensitive, shy and timid. Dogs that have had strict, domineering or unfair owners in the past may also suffer from this problem. A dog that is unclear of the rules and not sure how to behave will be insecure and this will lead to submissive urination.


There are a few different situations that can make a dog submissively urinate. The more common situations are when a dog is told off, reprimanded or scolded for something bad it has done. Another common occurrence of submissive urination can be when a dog hears a sudden loud noise or bang such as a siren or a firework, this is usually because the dog is very scared. Other more uncommon occurrences of submissive urination can occur when a dog is greeted or spoken to by a person or its owner.

Submissive Positioning

It is essential to note that the dog must be making submissive postures such as rolling over and exposing its belly, crouching or tucking and sitting on its tail. If a dog urinates when it is excited or greets someone but does not show any sign of submission, then it may be urinating due to simple excitement or even for a medical problem. Before taking behavioural steps to help alleviate a dog’s timid, submissive and shy behaviour, the owner should rule out any medical or biological causes of the urinating problems.

Steps to Take

If the problem is due to behavioural issues then there are a few steps that can be followed to try and stop or gradually reduce the submissive urination. These steps are all about steadily building up the dog’s confidence and can take time. As with most things related to a dog’s behaviour, consistency is key; the dog owner should keep a regular and familiar environment and schedule. The owner should also teach their dog commands using positive reinforcement techniques. This same positive reinforcement should be applied to any confident positions that the dog starts to demonstrate such as sitting or standing.

Non-threatening Techniques

When approaching a submissive dog the owner should try to do so in a non-threating manner. Techniques that owners can use include avoiding eye contact, approaching their hands and knees, petting the dog under the chin rather than on top of its head and approaching the dog from the side on as opposed to head on. All of these changes in the way an owner approaches and interacts with their dog can slowly but surely help to build up the dog’s self-esteem.

Growing Confidence

Once a dog is showing signs that it is becoming more confident it can be a good idea to gradually introduce the dog to new people or other social situations, try to ensure that these experiences are positive. Again, taking it slowly is the key; if a dog is forced into a social situation without being ready, then the negative effects may last for the rest of the dog’s life.

To help a dog that is shy and timid, the owner needs to work with the dog rather than forcing or pushing it into doing something it doesn’t want to do. In no way should an owner reprimand or punish their dog for urinating if they are submissive as this will just make the problem worse.


    Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena, and I take care of social media for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to share the latest on animal welfare, our charity work and pet care. I foster and adopt rabbits and have a rescue dog called Luna.