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Submissive Urination

August 21st, 2006, 11:35 PM
Hi...I am new to the site and am hoping for some helpful hints. We adopted a FANTASTIC dog in May. She is a 5 year old English Springer Spaniel. When I picked her up, I was told she was dropped off by a woman leaving her abusive husband. As the time has gone by, we have came to the realization Maggie was abused as well. She does all the submissive things...belly drop, roll over and bare her tummy...etc. She will actually meet us at the door with her belly down and peeing allover. She seems to spend her days sleeping on our reclining chairs and she was obviously beat for being on the furniture in the past. I have tried letting her up on the furniture while we are home, hoping this would let her know it's okay. Its not working. It's driving me crazy...I really don't care if she's on the furniture...however the urination is something I care about. Please help!!!

August 21st, 2006, 11:52 PM
When she's submissive like that, you can't make eye contact. You just have to walk buy and ignore her. Making eye contact is an act of dominance and you have to avoid that. Don't force her onto the furniture either. She has to get comfortable first and then maybe one day she'll come up. Right now, being the lowest on the ladder, she doesn't feel like she has a right to be up there, and that's not really something you can teach her. You can only make her comfortable with you.

You could try watching tv on the floor and waiting for her to come join you (it might take a while) and then once she gets into the habit of watching tv and getting a belly rub, you could gradually move it to the couch.

Have you read any books or talked to trainers about how to approach her without being too imposing or dominant? That would help a ton. You might not realize it, but some of your body language might be keeping her down.

August 22nd, 2006, 12:18 AM
I'm having the same problem with one of my foster dogs right now. He was obviously abused as well. I give him a pillow on the floor so he is comfortable and practice every chance I get getting him to come to me. Get down really low and have a treat ready. It may take a few times for her to come to you, but eventually she will realize that she will not get hit when she comes. Approach to pat her from underneath the chin instead of on top of the head. Figure out what her triggers are and have a treat ready when she is near one. Teddy hates being called so every time I call him and he comes he gets a treat. Don't greet her when you come home. Give her a bit to settle down and then give her the love. You can see Teddy has so much love in him, he just doesn't know how to show it. He doesn't kiss, but sometimes he will paw you like "more love, more love". I really hope I can find the perfect patient family for him. Here he is, ever tolerant. I actually had to find the camera and new batteries and he sat there the whole time.:crazy:

August 22nd, 2006, 04:18 AM
My collie was submissive too when I got him (no urination though, but I already knew how to act around a submissive dog so it never came to this). He wasn't abused, some dogs are just very submissive and when someone handles them as they would a normal dog it makes them even more so (though it sounds like your dog was harshly corrected and maybe hit a lot as a puppy).
I did all kinds of stuff to build his confidence. I played tug games with him, yes this is looked down upon by many people, but a very submissive dog is unlikely to develop dominance issues over this. I would let him win about 45% of the time, not enough to make him feel like he was stronger, but enough to let him know that it was ok for him to win sometimes. I dunno how well this would work for a dog as submissive as yours though, it may actually have the opposite effect, maybe someone else can answer that.
I would rarely make direct eye contact with him, just a quick glance to acknowledge him. No bending down over him either.
Grooming is a really good way for dogs to build confidence in themselves and you. I sit on the floor with him really relaxed and let him lay in front of me. Then I brush him very gently and talk in a calm relaxed voice.

It just takes a lot of time and patience for your dog to become confident in itself and confident that you aren't going to harshly scold it for everything.
As long as you constantly have a relaxed posture, talk in a very calm voice, don't make direct eye contact, the dog should eventually come around. But don't ask too much of her too soon. If she doesn't want on the furniture don't make her. She doesn't feel she deserves to come up to your level, so take yourself down to hers. Like prin said, try sitting on the floor and waiting for her to come to you. Eventually she'll learn that she never gets scolded when coming towards you, this builds her confidence also.

You could also try lots of positive reinforcement training. Clicker training would probably work well for a dog like this, and it would also make her think and build confidence in herself. As long as you go about the training in a calm relaxed manner it would go well.

Things NOT to do:
Never talk in an excited voice.
Never make quick jerky movements.
Never pet the dog "rough". Many people think petting a dog vigorously is a good thing, not so in a submissive dog. Act like she's a cat and pet her very softly and gently.
Never bend down over her to pet her. Let her come sniff you, and then if she's calm and doesn't seem fearful pet her gently under the chin.

It seemed like it took forever for my collie to become "normal", if I even accidentally talked in a voice that was a little bit too loud or firm he would put his tail between his legs and give up. Now he's confident in himself though and NEVER fearful of me, although he's probably one of the most obedient dogs I've ever seen. I can even play high energy games such as tag and fetch with him without him becoming nervous.

The main thing with dogs like this is to ALWAYS be conscious of your body posture, tone of voice, body movements, etc.. and NEVER use anything but positive training. Eventually your dog should relax around you and her real personality will come out.

Btw, if you ever see her tail go between her legs, or she puts her head down, end eye contact if there is any, turn around and walk slowly away from her and then ignore her for awhile, this should help a bit with the submissive urination.

Maybe someone could recommend a website on dog body language, I don't have any saved right now. Learning your dogs body language would help immensely. Dog's display a lot of body language before it comes to the point where their tail is between their legs or they're on their back or peeing on your floor, and much of this can be prevented by learning how to control your own body language.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible.

August 22nd, 2006, 04:34 AM
I apparently did have a website saved:

August 22nd, 2006, 08:10 AM
I dont have too much advice to add but i just thought I'd let you know that your not alone, I got my brittany spaniel 2 mos ago and he was also beaten by his previous owner. he did this type of urination as well, so i know how frustrating it can be, however with being patient and loving he hasnt done this for 5 weeks! just continuously show his love and positive/gentle touch, you never know what sort of rediculous things they were beaten for by their previous owners, so some of the weirdest things might cause them to do this, but as they learn the rules (or compared to before lack there of, in a good way) of their new home they will become more comfortable. Just be consistant and good luck.