Why Is My Dog So Submissive To Other Dogs

Dogs’ dominant and submissive attitudes are often misunderstood by humans. It is best to avoid overanalyzing the very generic concepts of “dominant” and “submissive.” In fact, due to their associations with antiquated, incorrect beliefs about canine hierarchy and “pack mentality,” many behaviorists and trainers want to steer clear of these phrases.

Dog submission and dominance are common behaviors, not character qualities. These actions are examples of body language communication. The relationship between the dog and the other person or animal is represented by the behavior. In a relationship with a dog, one partner is only dominant when the dog voluntarily provides submit, as dominance cannot exist without submission.

It’s also crucial to realize that violence does not equal submission. Typically, aggressive behavior is unrelated to dominance and is more frequently caused by fear.

When a dog acts submissively, it is forming or strengthening a bond with a particular human or animal. The dominant dog in one partnership might not be in another. Even though some dogs prefer to side with the same person in multiple interactions, this does not necessarily suggest that your dog is “dominant” or “submissive.”

A dog trying to convey that he is not a threat typically acts in a submissive manner. It’s possible that this message is directed at people, other dogs, or other animals. The dog may occasionally be playing and wants the other person to know it. Or a dog can be unsure about the other person’s motives. He makes an effort to calm both the other person or animal and himself. Because of this, a lot of supposedly “submissive” behaviors are instead referred to as soothing signals or appeasing gestures. These signals are frequently used by dogs to diffuse frightened or uncomfortable situations.

Your dog normally tries to show you respect and affection when he acts subservient toward you. It might also imply that he respects you and feels secure around you. Although he may perceive you as the dominant partner in the relationship, this does not need you to alter your actions in any manner.

How do I get my dog to stop being so timid?

A limitless quantity of time and patience are essential when teaching a dog to be assertive. There is no shortcut to winning the war; it must be done by earning the dog’s trust.

To be able to see the subtle indicators that a dog is stressed or uncomfortable, it’s also beneficial to become familiar with how to interpret dog body language. This will assist you in avoiding unintentionally rewarding subservient behaviors while fostering self-assured ones.

You’ll need the following to aid the process:

  • Treats
  • a treat bag you may carry on your belt so that you always have sweets available
  • a rope-pulling toy
  • a leash and collar for agility class attendance
  • recognizing friends and guests who are willing to coexist with you and the dog

Understand the idea

Dogs develop the habit of responding submissively, but they can also gain courage if they are trained in a gentle and kind way.

This is accomplished through rewarding brave behavior, playing games that boost self-confidence, and engaging in other activities that increase the dog’s self-confidence.

Build confidence with visitors

Inform guests that the dog is subservient and that it is best to ignore him before they arrive. Ask the guests to behave submissively and not to react if the dog rolls over.

Reward the dog for approaching visitors

Give guests a limited number of snacks. If the dog approaches, have the visitor ignore it while tossing a treat the dog’s way to reward him. The dog learns that visitors are welcome and gains confidence as a result of this.

Play confidence-building games

Tug-of-war games are not only entertaining, but they also boost a worried dog’s self-assurance.

To get the dog to take a tug toy, try shaking it in front of him. Make silly noises and praise the dog as he tugs back as you pull on the toy’s other end. Most importantly, let the dog win to boost confidence. (An aggressive dog behaves in the exact opposite way. You should instruct the dog to give the toy to you in this situation.)

Build self-confidence with activities

A playful activity like agility training can greatly increase a dog’s confidence. He discovers that it is enjoyable to overcome tiny or modest difficulties and that he is capable of doing so. When he has fun, he forgets to worry and develops a new way of being.

Avoid staring directly at the dog

Staring at someone directly signals a challenge to authority and probable violence in dog language. A subservient dog will undoubtedly find this uncomfortable.

Avoid patting his head

The act of patting a dog on the head may be interpreted as a threat by the animal. When a hand is raised above a dog’s head, even joyful, self-assured dogs may recoil. Rub his chin or stroke his back to prevent this in a passive dog.

Never force a dog to face his fears

Never restrain a dog against his will in order to make him confront a phobia. Flooding is what is known as it, and it is quite harmful to the dog. He can feel so terrified that he freezes and is powerless to react. In reality, the dog is more scared than ever, despite the fact that this creates the idea that he has overcome his phobia.

Avoid fussing the dog when he rolls over

When a subordinate dog turns over and you worry over him, you unintentionally reinforce his submissive behavior. When the dog sees you, he will continue to behave in this manner because he believes that is what is expected of him.

Don’t let guests reward fearful behavior

Giving treats to visitors, who then throw them at a nervous dog to entice him closer, is a common error. There is a chance, if the dog is actively displaying fear, that he will think his fear is being rewarded and the habit will be reinforced.

A dog will submit to indicate that he is not a threat, but rather that he is scared and needs privacy. When a dog exhibits submissive behavior, approaching him can increase his nervousness, which may cause him to urinate (or even snap at an extended hand).

When the dog exhibits submissive behavior, it is preferable to ignore him and wait for him to approach you. You can then commend this stronger, more assured action.

Know when to ignore the dog

When you get home after being out for a bit is a frequent flash point. The dog approaches you excitedly but rolls over and urinates when she greets you.

Consider the instances in which the dog engages in this behavior so that you can practice ignoring it (hence, not inadvertently rewarding the submissive action).

Acknowledge the dog in a calm, low-key manner

The goal is to keep the dog relaxed when you get home. Give him a brief, quiet greeting to let him know that you have heard him.

Do not approach the dog

A subservient person can feel intimidated if you walk over to the dog. Sit down at the dog’s level and wait for him to come to you rather than approaching. Throwing a treat his way or quietly praising brave action will satisfy him.

Keep things calm

Recognize and reward brave behavior while ignoring subservient behavior. Similarly, pet your dog along his back or under his chin since these regions are less likely to make him feel threatened or uneasy.

Work on obedience training.

Even if it is only for a brief period of time, daily obedience training gives subservient dogs a great deal of confidence. Family members are pleased when their pets follow instructions, and dogs sense this pride.

However, if the dog is being trained to be obedient harshly, it will only get worse. Locate a training program that uses rewards and positive reinforcement in your region. A docile dog should not be trained using a discipline-based system by the trainer.

Socialize your dog as much as possibleto make them adaptable.

Your dog’s era of delicate socialization ended when she was a puppy, at the age of around 15 weeks, but she can still be socialized as an adult dog; it will simply require a lot more effort.

Take your dog out as often as you can, introduce her to new people, let her play with your friends’ dogs (if they get along with other dogs), and let her run around at the dog park to meet other dogs. (Some dogs won’t be able to play at the dog park because they’ll be too anxious.)

Give your dog a job or get him involved in a canine sport.

If you have livestock and your dog is a herder, he probably won’t have time to become extremely subservient due to his busy schedule.

However, since the majority of dogs are unable to work, it is a good idea to enroll them in one of the canine sports to offer them something to do and boost their self-esteem. In your location, you might be able to participate in flyball, agility, frisbee, dock diving, and other sports.

Use counter-conditioning techniques to help him overcome fear.

The finest way for training a subservient dog is also the most difficult (for you!) You must teach your dog to associate good feelings with each object he is fearful of. A dog will become confident and stop being subservient when he is no longer terrified of the circumstance.

If you choose to use counterconditioning to try to increase his confidence, you must first determine the trigger. What is causing your dog to act in such a submissive manner? It is simpler to educate a dog who is just scared of one thing, yet most obedient dogs are scared of practically everything. Spend some time with your dog to get to know his phobias.

The following stage is to show him that the terrifying event is actually beneficial. Give him a pleasant food and allow him to relax around the frightening object after he has been exposed to it.

Is a dog that submits a good thing?

Since dogs are group creatures and have wolf ancestry, submission is a natural trait. There is always the pack leader or the alpha dog. The lowest ranking dog is also present, as well as every dog in between. A dog will submit to you as a sign of respect and to show that he respects and trusts you. This does not imply that he won’t stand up for you and act as a decent guardian. It simply implies that your dog recognizes you as the pack’s leader and has faith in your ability to look out for him and provide him with security. In addition, some dogs exhibit submissive traits when they sense danger or are frightened. Numerous factors, including other aggressive dogs, lightning storms, or even mistreatment, might cause this.

If your dog is quiet and non-aggressive, you can tell if he is a submissive dog. He will display behaviors like lying down, lowering his gaze, shrinking his body, hiding, licking the chin of another dog, or repositioning his ears. This conduct is typically quite natural. You might want your dog to be able to assert his dominance a little bit more if he is extremely afraid and submissive, though. If you have multiple dogs, keep in mind that one will act as the alpha dog and the other as the beta dog. They will not consider themselves to be equals. There will always be a difference in how subservient each is. You shouldn’t assume that your dog is afraid of you because submissive behavior is a natural response in dogs. If you think your dog is being too submissive, there are techniques to assist them become more dominant. You can raise these issues with your veterinarian if you think your dog may be experiencing anxiety problems that cause him to seem unduly timid, fearful, or subservient.

What characteristics mark a dog as submissive?

Your dog may occasionally act submissive if it needs additional assurances or if it wants to win your favor. Keep an eye out for these warning signals that your dog is giving in.

Belly Up

If your dog turns over or displays its belly to you, this is a traditional indication of surrender. You can be certain that this is an expression of submission because dogs won’t expose their bellies to anyone they don’t trust or respect.


When you enter the room, does your dog let out a little poop? Although it can be a little frustrating, you should realize that this is frequently submissive urination—your dog’s way of letting you know that you’re in charge. Although some dogs continue the tendency as adults, submissive urination is more common among young puppies. The easiest method to stop this tendency is to acknowledge your dog’s urination with kindness rather than penalizing it.

Flattened Ears

Your dog may press her ears flat against her head if she is terrified or surrendering. Keep an eye out for this subtle warning, and if necessary, reassure your dog.

Avoiding Eye Contact

A submissive dog may frequently shy away from making eye contact with you or other dogs. Especially with more busy dogs whose eyes you might never get a good look at, this behavior might be difficult to see.

Can I urinate on my dog to assert my dominance?

I’ve heard it all because I’ve been a professional trainer for so long. The majority of canine behavior myths are untrue and often harmless. Having said that, there is one myth that has emerged in the last few months that leaves me scratching my head in confusion. In order to put their dog in his or her place, several clients have admitted to spitting in their dog’s food, peeing on their dog, or using other methods using their own or their kids’ bodily fluids (which is implied to be “below the human in a rigid hierarchy).

For someone who finds dog behavior mysterious, it might be challenging to distinguish between scientific fact and fiction. I can relate to my clients’ perplexity in this regard. In each instance, this line of action had been suggested by a reliable friend, relative, or even a pet expert. My clients were unsure of how to handle their dog’s unruly conduct in each situation. Although I wish they had contacted me sooner rather than later after trying this strategy (and, in most cases, additional suggestions from coworkers or neighbors), their aim was that doing so would prevent them from having to pay for a private session with a qualified professional.

Here, the proverb “you get what you paid for” comes to mind. Free advice can be beneficial, but the stakes are simply too high when it comes to major behavioral issues where the danger of failing could result in someone getting bitten or your dog ending up homeless or dead. After all, practice makes perfect, and the longer a dog has the chance to engage in the problematic activity, the worse the prognosis. When I can start working with my clients as soon as a problem arises rather than after they have tried to address it on their own for months or even years, that is when my clients and I have the most success.

So why is it not a good idea to “show him who’s boss” by peeing on his head or spitting in his food?

This advice’s main goal is to elevate the owner’s position because it is assumed that dogs follow a strict hierarchy of dominance. However, this fallacy has consistently been debunked. Although wolves do have hierarchies, they are built on family structures, with the mother and father in charge of the group’s young. Considering this, it only makes sense to spit in your dog’s food or urinate on his head if you would also discipline your [human] kid in similar manner. good dog owners and good parents! realize that the main goal of parenting is to create a loving, patient atmosphere where children can develop.

Our understanding of wolves’ communication and dominance hierarchies is profoundly impacted by the fact that they live in familial packs. It can be just as inaccurate to research canine behavior by viewing their closely related cousins as it is to analyze human behavior by observing chimpanzees or bonobos. We do really have commonalities. We are not the same species, though. Although wolves and dogs both descended from the same progenitor, it’s possible that today’s wolves are very different from those of tens of thousands of years ago. Studies on dogs in their natural habitat (village dumps) reveal that, unlike wolves, they do not form tightly-knit family packs. Although mothers and puppies stick together and dogs make friends with other dogs, there isn’t a tight-knit pack structure. This means that even if wolves did evolve tight pack structures that needed abrasive dominance displays, extrapolating those behaviors to their cousins would not be appropriate.

Even if none of this were true, the concept of using physiological secretions to establish supremacy still has a serious issue. Sure, the idea of someone spitting in our food or peeing on our head makes us cringe. But does it actually affect our dogs in the same way? I’ll be honest: dogs adore bodily fluids! Layla often lifts her leg to urinate on the head of another dog, and the other dog never displays any disgust. Dogs frequently eat vomit and lick each other’s mouths. They lick at other dogs’ pee and wipe their genitalia with their tongues. Some people even consume waste (and many experts believe that human fecal matter may have been the main source of nutrition for early village dogs). While we may find bodily fluids to be disgusting, dogs find them to be quite fascinating.

The main line is that you are unlikely to see the desired behavior modification by spitting in your dog’s food, putting the contents of your child’s filthy diaper on your dog, or peeing on her. In the best case scenario, your dog’s bewilderment may cause her behavior to be partially repressed. The worst-case scenario is that you scare your dog, further destroying your bond, or unwittingly reward her undesirable behavior by giving her something tasty or exciting. In either case, it’s unlikely that you’ll actually modify your behavior, therefore it would be far wiser to seek professional advice. Just consider how much money you’ll save on dog shampoo as an added bonus!