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Categories: Behavioral Problems

Q. My dog has recently become afraid of a few things showing signs of submission. What might be the problem?
Hi Cindy,

First I want to thank you guys for your wonderful web site and all the invaluable training information it?s provided to me and my currently 12 month old GSD Max.

To give you a little background, I?ve had Max since he was about 18 weeks old. I purchased your marker training, focused heeling, and Power of Tug videos and have completely used marker training with Max from day one. Currently, (thanks to the marker training) I have had very few corrections with Max. He is a house dog for the most part and typically comes to work with me on a daily basis. He was crate trained, and only twice used the bathroom in the house when I first got him, both times he was corrected immediately (still while urinating) and taken outside to finish his relieving himself. Throughout our training and non training days Max has been the ideal dog. Very good temperament, not scared of anything, high drive, follows me everywhere, etc, etc.

However, about 2 week ago I started noticing some subtle changes in his demeanor. First thing I noticed was he seemed to be scared of the TV. Typically he lays in the family room with us at night but about a week ago he refuses to go in there when the TV is on. A couple of days after I this I noticed when I got home he showed signs of submission towards me (ears back, squatty legs) and urinated on the floor. The first time this happened I didn?t think so I (probably) wrongfully issued him a correction and put him out side. Since then this is a reoccurring peeing problem every time I come home. The odd thing is he still plays great with me and follows me everywhere like my best friend, and he doesn?t urinate when my girlfriend comes home or any guests. I?m hoping this isn?t a temperament issue that we?re just now starting to see. If he was 6 months old I?d probably just wait it out but at 12 months this is a surprise I was hoping you could give me your thoughts. If you have any advice or suggestions I?d greatly appreciate it. I apologize for the long email.


A. Dogs go through funny phases and stages of development as they mature. I think you probably corrected him when you shouldn’t have. In his mind, he’s being “good” and deferring to the boss. This is what younger dogs do to more dominant dogs to show their submission. Drawing ANY attention to it at all may cause it to become a real long term issue.

Ignore the dog completely when you come home. Don’t even look at him. Casually take him outside before you interact with him. Don’t lean over him or reach over his head. All these things can trigger submissive urination. Hopefully it will pass quickly!

Search the website too, this has been discussed many times in our Q&As and on our forum.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes
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