How to Tell if Your Dog Is Submissive to You

Building a strong bond with your dog is essential for a harmonious relationship, and understanding their behavior is key to achieving this. Dogs are naturally social animals and often exhibit submissive behaviors towards their human companions. Recognizing these signs of submission can help you better understand your dog’s needs and strengthen your bond. In this article, we will discuss how to tell if your dog is submissive to you and answer some frequently asked questions on the topic.

Signs of Submissive Behavior in Dogs:

1. Tail tucking: A dog will tuck its tail between its hind legs when feeling submissive or fearful.
2. Cowering or lowering of the body: A submissive dog may lower its body, crouch, or even roll over onto its back.
3. Avoiding eye contact: Dogs avoid direct eye contact as a sign of submission, showing they acknowledge your authority.
4. Ears pinned back: When a dog’s ears are flattened against its head, it signifies submission and a desire to avoid confrontation.
5. Licking or nuzzling: Submissive dogs may lick your face or nuzzle into you, seeking reassurance and showing their submission.
6. Submissive urination: Some dogs may involuntarily urinate when feeling extremely submissive or frightened.
7. Paw lifting: Raising a front paw is a common submissive gesture, indicating a willingness to be non-threatening.
8. Mouthing or gentle biting: Dogs may lightly mouth or nibble as a sign of submission, similar to how puppies interact with their mother.
9. Allowing you to lead: Submissive dogs will willingly follow your lead and often walk slightly behind you during walks.
10. Subdued barking: A submissive dog may have a softer, less assertive bark compared to a dominant or confident dog.
11. Lack of destructive behavior: Submissive dogs are less likely to engage in destructive behavior as they aim to please and avoid conflict.

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FAQs about Submissive Behavior in Dogs:

1. Can all dogs exhibit submissive behavior?
Yes, submissive behavior can be observed in dogs of all breeds and sizes.

2. Is submissive behavior a sign of fear?
It can be. Submissive behaviors often occur when a dog feels fearful or threatened.

3. Should I encourage submissive behavior in my dog?
While it’s important to establish a respectful relationship, encouraging too much submission can lead to anxiety in dogs. Aim for a balanced approach.

4. Can a dominant dog also show submissive behavior?
Yes, even dominant dogs can display submissive behaviors in certain situations or towards individuals they perceive as higher in rank.

5. How can I reinforce a submissive dog’s confidence?
Provide positive reinforcement, engage in confidence-building activities, and offer consistent training to build your dog’s self-assurance.

6. What should I do if my dog exhibits submissive urination?
Avoid punishment as it can worsen the issue. Instead, focus on building your dog’s confidence through training and positive reinforcement.

7. Is submissive behavior related to aggression?
Submissive behavior is generally the opposite of aggression. However, if a dog feels threatened, submissive behavior may escalate into defensive aggression.

8. Can submissive behavior be mistaken for disobedience?
Yes, submissive behavior can sometimes be misinterpreted as disobedience, so it’s important to understand your dog’s intentions and emotions.

9. Can submissive behavior be changed?
While you can’t entirely change a dog’s natural inclination towards submission, you can help them become more confident through training and socialization.

10. Is it possible for a dog to be submissive to one person but dominant towards others?
Yes, a dog’s behavior can vary depending on the relationship and dynamics it has with different individuals.

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11. Should I seek professional help if my dog’s submissive behavior is causing issues?
If your dog’s submissive behavior is causing distress or interfering with their quality of life, consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviorist is advisable.

Understanding your dog’s submissive behavior is crucial for maintaining a healthy relationship. By recognizing these signs and addressing any underlying issues, you can build trust, confidence, and a stronger bond with your furry companion. Remember that every dog is unique, so observe their behavior, provide appropriate training, and shower them with love and attention.