4 Lessons I Learned About My Dog’s Submissive Urination

It can be frustrating to have a dog who submissively urinates, but you can take some steps to help alleviate the problem.

Dogs get excited when you arrive home and may urinate. By: ClatieK
Dogs get excited when you arrive home, and some may urinate. Photo: ClatieK

I had never even heard of submissive urination until I adopted my rescue dog, Jude. When I brought him home to meet my other 2 dogs, I found out quickly that he had plenty of quirks:

  • He spins when he’s happy.
  • He loves pizza.
  • He doesn’t bark.
  • And he submissively urinates.

I thought he was just scared to be in a new home, so I figured it would go away in time. It didn’t.

Ultimately, I had to consult a professional trainer for fresh ideas on how to handle the problem, and she stressed first and foremost how important patience is. Patience is essential because submissive urination in a dog is a behavior that can take time to correct.

If you keep the following 4 things in mind, you’ll have a much easier time dealing with it.

1. Understand the Problem

The reasons for submissive urination can be numerous.

  • It’s a normal behavior for puppies, and most of the time they grow out of it.
  • There could be a medical reason for it, such as a bladder infection or incontinence.
  • It could also stem from a lack of confidence, which was the cause of my little guy’s issue.

Jude had been abandoned twice in less than a year, and he was visibly terrified when they brought him out to meet me. The trainer I consulted told me that it is a form of communication, and that Jude is letting me know that he is not a threat.

Because there were no other ways to let him know I loved him and that he was safe with me no matter what, I had to be patient. I had to let him get comfortable and get to know me.

2. Don’t Get Upset

Yelling and scolding your dog when he submissively urinates is not going to make him stop. It rarely helps matters anyway when your dog does something wrong, but in this case it only makes things worse.

There were a few times when my dog peed on me when I came home. As a reflex, I would yelp in surprise and back away. In turn, he would take off for my room and pee all over my bed.

I had to learn to curtail my reflex to scream. If I noticed him pee on the floor, I waited until he was done and cleaned it up quietly. I tried to direct him to the patio outside afterward, and gave him high praises every time he went outside on his own. He’s an absolute love bug, so this was the best possible reward for him — besides pizza.

This video shows one woman’s approach to dealing with her dog’s submissive urination, an approach she said solved the problem:

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3. Keep Your Actions Low-Key

It’s one of my greatest joys to come home to my dogs, and I am used to coming home and showing my excitement. This is not a good idea when you have a dog who submissively urinates.

Now when I come home, I let them out but I don’t greet them until they go outside and go potty. I do pet Jude, because he always wants to be petted, but my tone and body language are subdued.

It took a couple of weeks for the submissive urination to really show improvement, but this alone has been a great help in battling the issue. I also have to approach Jude slowly when I need him to get into his kennel or if I need to put him on his leash.

4. Don’t Rush New Stuff

It’s important to not over-stimulate dogs who submissively urinate. That includes not forcing them to socialize with people too often and not taking them out to dog parks.

Jude still gets nervous when we go on walks if there are too many people around, so this is the last step we are still working on. Gradually introducing your pet to new sights, sounds, smells and people will help build confidence and develop trust.

It’s easy to get frustrated when your dog soils the floor every time. It’s easy to want to yell, to get caught up in thinking about how much your carpet cleaning bills will be, or to think it’s never going to get any better. None of that will help.

You want your carpets to be clean, and your dog wants to feel safe and loved. If you keep in mind the lessons I’ve learned when you’re tackling submissive urination, you’ll both come out happy.