Submissive Urination in Weimaraners

Submissive urination or submissive peeing in your Weimaraner is not a potty training issue. Both male and female Weimaraners urinate submissively and some dogs even have a genetic tendency to do so.

What about age?  Will your dog outgrow this problem?  We see submissive urination in both puppies and older dogs, as well.

Puppies do have an undeveloped bladder and most will eventually grow out of the problem.  But some won’t.

Submissive urination in a Weimaraner requires patience.

Submissive urination in a Weimaraner requires patience and understanding.

To understand how to fix this behavior problem, we need to look at why your dog is peeing submissively in the first place.

In this article we will look at:

  • Why Does Your Dog Pee Submissively?
  • Your Dog’s Point of View
  • Is it Really Submissive Urination or Incontinence?
  • Solving the Submissive Urination Issue

Why Does Your Dog Pee Submissively?

There are a number of reasons that this could be happening in your home.  And, if you adopted a Weimaraner dog from a rescue or shelter, the chances that your dog urinates submissively are much greater than if you got your puppy at a responsible breeder.

Shelter dogs tend to be more insecure, at least when you first get them.  Their insecurity leads to behavior issues that you will need to address.  Primarily, it is important to build your rescue dog’s confidence.

Dogs urinate submissively when:

  • They have been abused or punished severely – If you have a shelter dog, the owner before you may have abused your dog.
  • You have punished the dog sternly – Dogs really don’t need to be hit or yelled at. Discipline should be firm and gentle at the same time.  You want to correct the dog’s behavior, not break his spirit.
  • When scolded – Dogs who are very submissive, urinate when they are disciplined.
  • Excitement – Some dogs pee when they get excited.
  • When company comes or when you come home
  • Genetics – Some dogs actually inherit the tendency to urinate submissively. American Cocker Spaniels are an example.

Your Dog’s Point of View

If we look at this issue from your dog’s point of view, the way to handle the peeing becomes more clear.

Dogs who pee submissively generally lack self-confidence.  They can be shy dogs who are communicating to you that they are submissive–to the alpha or leader of the pack, which is you.

In the dog’s world, when the alpha dog comes home from a “hunt” (in your case, it could be from the store or after work), the underlings greet the leader submissively.  They are communicating that the alpha remains in the top position in the pack.  The leader has returned safely to the den.

An alpha male or female dog will simply ignore the submissive dogs, reinforcing that he or she is still in the leadership position.  Things are under control.  This is normal behavior in the pack.

No offense is taken, and no one is vying for the leadership position.  The underlings are quite happy where they are.  The alpha leader guards and protects them and keeps other pack members in their place.  It makes everyone feel secure and happy.

Getting back to your dog’s submissive urination, your dog is showing you that she is submissive to you.  We’ll talk about that a little later.

Your dog is not peeing on the floor on purpose.  It is involuntary and she is not even conscious that she is doing it.

How you handle this, determines whether the situation gets better or worse.

Is it Really Submissive Urination or is it Incontinence?

There are a few other instances where your dog might be peeing involuntarily.  If your dog is house trained and suddenly starts to have accidents inside, it may not be submissive peeing.

Sometimes a medical condition is to blame.  Some rescue organizations estimate that as much as 15-20% of rescue animals have house training problems that are health related.  If your Weimaraner is a rescue dog, you might consider consulting with your vet about your dog’s accidents.

When your dog suddenly develops urinary issues, consider whether she might have:

  • A urinary tract infection
  • Bladder stones
  • Cushing’s syndrome – tumor on pituitary gland or adrenal gland that causes a hormonal imbalance
  • Kidney failure
  • Incontinence – Older dogs sometimes develop incontinence, which needs to be addressed differently

If you suspect a medical problem is causing the urinary control accidents, your vet can help you sort this out.

Above all, keep in mind that your dog should never be punished for having a medical condition or for submissive urination.  Simply clean up the mess without reprimanding him.

Solving the Submissive Urination Problem

One way to tell if you are really dealing with submissive urination is to observe when the accidents occur.  True submissive peeing happens when:

  • You come home after being away for a while
  • Company comes into your home – Interestingly, most friends will greet your dog before greeting you. This puts your dog at the top of the pack hierarchy.  That is very uncomfortable for a dog who feels that his place is lower in the pack.  And he may pee.
  • A person who is loud or excited approaches your dog – This is frightening to a submissive dog.
  • Your dog is patted on top of her head – This can be interpreted by a dog as an aggressive move, especially if the person does not know your dog.
  • Someone in the family intimidates your dog. This includes teasing your dog, which your dog may not think is very funny.

What Usually Happens

Unfortunately too many people have tried to solve the submissive urination issue by correcting their dog verbally or, worse, by hitting a dog who pees on the floor when they come home.

Giving your dog ANY attention makes the problem worse.  Here’s why.  Remember that your dog is communicating with you.

If your dog acts submissively when you arrive home, she is saying, “Welcome back.  I know that you are the alpha in our family.  I am submitting to you.”

Let’s go through the usual scenarios and how your dog interprets each one…

  • Verbal corrections – When your dog pees and you correct him verbally, you become more threatening. You are angry, but he just thinks he was showing you that you are in charge.  Now he thinks he needs to submit more, because he didn’t please you with his submission.
  • Bending over – When you bend over to pick up your dog or to discipline your dog, you are using a dominant or intimidating gesture. You are a lot bigger than your puppy!
  • Getting excited – Dogs pick up on our emotions. If you get excited (or angry) when your dog pees on the floor, she will become more excited, as well.
  • Consoling the dog – Some people understand that the dog has not peed on purpose and so they pat the dog and console him. Your dog doesn’t understand this.  Her interpretation is that you like the submissive behavior.  So if you console your dog, you are reinforcing the submissive urination problem.  Not what you want to do!

Simple Solutions for Submissive Urination

I understand how frustrating this can be.  It is no fun to have a dog that piddles on the floor when you come home.  And less fun to clean it up!   But you must be patient with your Weimaraner puppy or dog.

If you step back and think about this for a moment from your dog’s point of view, you will understand how to approach this.

As simple as it seems, you need to ignore your dog when you first come home.  That means that you don’t talk to your dog, you don’t look at your dog, you don’t bend down and you don’t touch your dog.  As hard as it will be, do this for 10 minutes, or until your dog has completely calmed down.

Then, call your dog over to you, and you can show affection then.  Scratch your dog’s chest or pet him under his chin.  Pats on the head are sometimes perceived as a threat.

When you do this, you are communicating to your dog that you are the pack leader and everything is in order.  Nothing to get excited about.  Everything is normal.

Do not correct your dog’s peeing, as this will just make the situation worse.  Disciplining your dog makes your dog think you were not happy with her, and so she needs to be more submissive.

Perhaps the most important part of changing this behavior is that you need to become a strong Pack Leader in your home.  One of the easiest ways to do that is to follow the simple, practical lessons that dog trainer Doggy Dan gives us.

I have used the Doggy Dan videos when working with my current dog, Skipper, and they really do work.  He has a good grasp of dog behavior, and I like his gentle way of teaching.

Here is an example of how he approaches dog training.

You can access the full library of dog training videos here.  Just $1 will give you access to the videos for 3 days.  If you choose to continue with the training program, you will be able to participate in the dog training forum, as well.

Practical Considerations

Since this issue may take a few weeks to resolve, enter your home where there is a floor that can be washed easily—not on your best carpet.

Do speak with guests, so that they can help reinforce your training.  Guests should greet you, not the dog, first.  If your dog is really excited, guests should ignore him until he settles down.  Then they can call your dog over for pats and affection.

When a dog lies on its side, it is assuming a submissive position.  No one should pet your dog unless your dog is sitting or standing.  This is so that you don’t encourage a submissive dog without confidence to become more submissive.

Petting your dog in a lying down position communicates to your dog that you approve of his submission and want more submissive acts.

Work at becoming a strong pack leader, and your dog’s submissive urination problem will become a thing of the past!