Submissive urination is a different behavior than marking. It is a reflex behavior that can stem from anxiety, appeasement, lack of confidence, or overexcitement. It can be a response to interaction with other dogs or humans. Many puppies exhibit this behavior, and many grow out of it. If you have an adult dog, there are easy ways to minimize the behavior. If this is new behavior for your dog, make sure to rule out any medical issues first by consulting with your veterinarian.

Decreasing Submissive Urination

Body posture

Making sure your posture is less intimidating. Avoid standing over your dog, approaching them head-on, direct eye contact, and reaching over their head. Instead, try these ways to approach your dog:

  • Crouch low and turn to the side.
  • Allow your dog to come to you.
  • Avert your eyes and look to the side.
  • Pet their chest or neck instead of the top of their head.
  • Speak softly in a soothing calm voice. This can help to settle an overexcited dog or reassure a dog that lacks confidence.

Keep your interactions as calm as possible.

  • Let your dog come to you! By allowing your dog to come to you, you are letting them approach you on their own terms.
  • Always manage the situation your dog is in. If you know that having a large group of guests over is a trigger, put your dog away in a quiet room or crate and, if appropriate, allow guests to meet them one at a time.
  • Build your dog’s confidence. Reward your dog often, but always use a calm voice – avoid high-pitched, excitable noises. Allow them to meet new dogs and people during situations that would not cause them to submissively urinate, like a small and structured group training class or playing with a calm, social dog.
  • Use kindness, not corrections! Punishment will usually increase submissive urination and confuse your dog. Training should build relationships, not break them down. Since submissive urination is an involuntary response, it would be like punishing a person for blushing.