Submissive urination is a common problem in shy, non-assertive dogs.
It is characterized by a dog who squats and urinates when approached or scolded. Some dogs will lie on their sides or backs and will actually urinate on themselves.
Doing so indicates to you. or other dogs, that he or she intends no aggression. Exposing the underbelly puts the dog in the most vulnerable and submissive position.
While these dogs are often characterized as having been “abused before I got him,” such is not usually the case. Some dogs, like some people, are just shy and submissive by nature.
You can help.
Encourage your dog to be more outgoing. Encouragement mainly comes in the form of tone of voice. Dogs understand a high-pitched voice as happy, so talk to him in a high, squeaky tone.
At the same time, avoid reinforcing the negative behavior. When he acts submissive or afraid, resist the urge to say, “Oh! Poor baby! Is Mommy’s puppy scared? It’s OK, nothing’s going to get you.” You can’t say those words without him interpreting you sounding fearful yourself. Then, he thinks, “Whoa! If my family is afraid, I definitely need to be afraid!”
Keep that upbeat, happy tone, no matter the situation.
Your physical stance can help, too. When approaching a dog with submissive urination, get down on his level. If you are towering over him when reaching to pat his head, he will interpret that as an aggressive act. Squat down. Sit on your feet. Scratch him under the chin or on his chest instead of on top of his body.
When he does things that are bold, applaud his actions. Say an enthusiastic “Good boy!” in that high-pitched voice. That will let him know he has done a good thing and he will be emboldened to do those kinds of things again.
Conversely, when he submits, with or without urination, pretend not to notice and go on with your routine.
Never, ever, scold him when he urinates in the submissive position. It’s annoying and messy, but you will simply make the problem worse.
If you have more questions be sure to ask your pet’s doctor on your dog’s next visit.