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Helping Your Dog Cope with Submissive Behavior - Causes & Prevention

Source: PetWave, Updated on August 30, 2016
Submissive Behavior Guide:

What is Submissive Behavior in Dogs

Submissive behavior can occur with some dogs, though each dog may react differently. The most common signs of overly submissive behaviors include:

  • Hiding. Your dog may suddenly run from something and hide in a room or under the bed.
  • Wetting themselves. Dogs may spontaneously urinate on the floor or an item. You may find the wet area hidden in a corner because the dog may hide this behavior to not get into trouble.
  • Body language. Another submissive behavior is when a dog hides their tail between their legs or lowers their head. A dog may show this when scolded verbally or by an aggressive thing they fear. The dog will normally bend down to show its fear and sometimes hide afterwards.

Smaller dogs may tend to show submissive behavior more than other breeds. They will sometimes shake or hide to show their fear. The smaller dogs may run underneath a bed or an item to get away from whatever is causing them an issue.

Causes of Submissive Behavior

Your dog may show submissive behavior when dealing with a certain situation or thing causes them fear. There are some causes to this behavior that can be recognized. In some dogs it may be a fear of strangers, it may be fear of getting in trouble or other things that may cause this submissive behavior.

Fear of strangers is common among dogs. The smaller dog breeds tend to be shyer at times and submissive behavior may result. The dog may start to shake showing the fear it has being around something that is unfamiliar to them. They may show this fear by running behind you and possibly hiding under or behind something.

Aggressiveness with other animals or people may cause the dog to act submissively. If the dog is fearful of a certain tone you or someone else may use, they may hide their tail between their legs; bow their head and perhaps even start whimpering. Certain animals may show their dominance by growling or showing their teeth to your dog. These actions by other dogs may cause your dog to run or not look the other animal in the eye in reaction to the dominant animal.

If the dog is abused either physically or verbally, a submissive behavior may result. The dog may not want to be around certain people or things, run and hide or just whimper to get away from them. They may tend to stick close to one person in the family compared to others feeling more secure.

Age plays a factor in submissive behavior. Dogs that are older might be more submissive because they are not able to react as fast or move as fast. These dogs make shake more or wet themselves more in fear of what is there or what has happened to them.

Preventing Submissive Behavior

There are ways in which to help stop your dog’s submissive behavior. These actions can range from encouragement to a reward system. Determining which submissive behavior your dog is showing will show you how to respond to it.

Some dogs show submissive behavior because they are fearful of their surroundings. If you have just moved or recently have exposed your dog to a new environment, take the time to allow the dog to get use to the area. Play with them in the house, give them treats and allow them to have their own personal space in the house. The personal space may involve a blanket in the corner or a bed under a desk.

Always encourage your dog to be around others if you want a friendly dog. In doing this you will be able to have the dog be less fearful and show less submissive behavior. Make sure that you stand by your dog when they are around unfamiliar people to them by showing them that it is okay. This will help the dogs to be more secure and eventually may stop the submissive behavior.

Encourage your dog with treats to have them enter parts of the house they may be fearful of. After they have done what you have asked take their favorite snack and give it to them. You can also have a favorite spot where you and your dog spend time together. Quality time with your dog, petting them and talking softly to them will help build up trust and have a secure time for them. A good reward system will help the dog feel good about where it is at or what you are asking it to do.

Training Tips for Dogs that Submissively Urinate

You will need to begin to prevent submissive urination in your dog by building up your dog’s confidence, and the trust relationship between you and your dog. Play lots of gentle games with your dog, encourage your dog during this play, give plenty of verbal praise, and give an occasional treat reward. Build up the trust relationship between you and your dog by being extra sensitive to your canine friend’s feelings. Do not yell or raise your voice when you are communicating with your dog, always use positive reinforcement when you are teaching your dog new rules or commands, and never ever physically punish your dog.

To let your dog know that submissive urination is not needed in this relationship, try not to engage in dominant behavior with the dog. Instead of picking up the dog or coming towards the dog for a greeting or moment of affection, wait until the dog comes to you. Concentrate more on petting the dog under the chin and rubbing the back area; try to stay away from patting the dog’s head or rubbing the dog’s tummy when you are not invited to do so, and avoid continual eye contact with your dog during this delicate time.

Try to keep your dog from becoming overly excited. When you come home tell your dog hello in a calm tone, and then keep walking through the door. When the dog comes to greet you gently pet the dog, and then walk away for a bit. Let visiting guests know that your dog is sensitive, and educate them on how to relate properly to your dog.

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