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active submission in dogs

active submission in dogs

active submission in dogs

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active submission in dogs

Sometimes your dogs will show submissive behavior when he or she needs extra reassurances or wants to try to please you. Look out for these tell-tale signs that your dog is submitting.

1. Belly Up

If your dog rolls over or shows you his or her belly, this is a classic sign of submission. The belly is a vulnerable area that dogs won’t show to anyone they don’t trust or submit to, so you can be sure this is an act of submission.

2. Urination

Does your dog piddle a little when you walk in the door? This is often submissive urination, and although it can be a little frustrating, you should acknowledge that this is your dog’s way of saying you’re in charge. Puppies are most likely to urinate submissively, although some dogs keep the habit later. The best way to eliminate this behavior is by acknowledging your dog kindly and not punishing the urination.

3. Flattened Ears

If your dog is afraid or submitting, she may put her ears flat against her head. Look for this subtle sign and be sure to give your dog some reassurance if need be.

4. Avoiding Eye Contact

Often a submissive dog will avoid your direct eye contact or that of another dog. This can be a behavior that may be hard to spot, especially with more active dogs whose eyes you maybe never get a good look at.

active submission in dogs
active submission in dogs

active submission in dogs

5. Licking

Dog licks body parts and clothes, including lip-licking, ear-licking, and nose-licking. Again, if you like this behavior, you can encourage it with positive reinforcement – giving your dog the attention he seeks when he licks.

If you don’t enjoy your dog’s licking, use negative punishment (licking makes you go away) and install an incompatible behavior in its place. Having your dog hold a toy in mouth when he approaches people is a great attention-eliciting behavior that’s incompatible with licking.

6. Jumping up

Dog puts paws on human body, often projecting body against human with some force. A lot of small-dog owners don’t seem to object to jumping up as an attention-getter, and a lot of small dogs are incorrigible jump-uppers as a result. Not all people with small dogs like this, however, and most people who live with medium-to-large dogs much prefer four-on-the-floor.

Jumping as an attention-getting behavior is positively reinforced by attention, even behavior that dog owners may offer to try to reduce jumping up, such as pushing the dog away, or telling him to get down. Once again, removing yourself from contact with the dog – taking the attention away – will reduce the behavior, especially if you replace it by reinforcing an incompatible behavior such as sit or down.

7. Teeth clacking

Dog’s teeth click or chatter. This is an innocuous behavior, and one that you can simply ignore – unless you’re an avid trainer and want to encourage it by clicking and treating when the dog offers it, then putting it on cue.

8. Smiling

Dog lifts his lips into a grimace that is unaccompanied by other behaviors that would indicate at threat. I see no reason to try to make this behavior go away as long as humans around the dog understand that it’s not an aggressive behavior. I think it’s quite cute! I’d encourage it by clicking and treating when the dog offers a smile, and then put it on cue!

active submission in dogs
active submission in dogs

Active Submission

When your dog displays active submissive behaviors, it means she’s asking her leader — you — to pay attention to her. It’s a healthy form of submission because she wants to appease you, even if some of her behaviors annoy you. In addition to relaxed ears and a wagging tail, she might push her nose against some part of your body, such as your hand, to get you to pet her. Other active submissions include licking you, crouching very low to the floor, placing her paw in your lap or on your arm and even jumping up on you. If you see her crouch with her hind end up in the air, or she “wraps” her body around your legs, these are also active submissive behaviors. Some dogs also snarl so it looks like they’re smiling, or clack their teeth together.

Passive Submission

If your dog avoids looking you in the eyes with her tail tucked between her legs or has positioned her head and body much lower — or even lying on her back — she is still being submissive, but is afraid of negative attention from you. This is called passive submission. She may also stay completely still in one position as though afraid to move. In extreme cases, she will urinate in conjunction with these other behaviors, although if she is a puppy, she may grow out of the submissive urination phase. If you consistently see your dog exhibit these deferential behaviors, examine your own demeanor to see if you are inadvertently signaling to her that she should feel threatened. Squat down instead of bending over her to pet her; don’t approach her head-on or make eye contact, and speak softly.

Submissive dogs

A dog displaying active submission behaviors is offering signs of submission to a superior dog or person to avoid any additional threats or confrontations. This dog is a bit fearful and hopes the superior individual will either retreat or show signs of friendliness.

  • Sometimes showing submissive urination when greeting other dogs
  • Turning away when other dogs stare
  • Allowing other dogs to win at tug-of-war
  • Providing attention and affection to other dogs, especially by licking their mouths
  • Backing off when other dogs want to take food or toys
  • Rolling on their backs to display their belly
  • Body lowered, hind end low
  • Tail down, slight tail wag, small swings
  • May whimper
  • May leave sweaty paw prints
active submission in dogs
active submission in dogs

The Root of the Behavior

Submissiveness is an instinctual behavior that goes back to how dogs are pack animals and their wolf ancestry. There is always an alpha dog or the leader of the pack. There is also the lowest ranking dog and everything in between. When a dog is submitting to you, it is a sign of respect and also means that he trusts you and respects you.
This does not mean that he will not defend you and be a good watchdog. It just means that your dog knows you are the leader and he trusts that you will take care of him and offer him protection as well. Some dogs also show submissive behavior when they feel threatened or are scared. This can be triggered by many things such as other aggressive dogs, lightning storms, or even being abused.
You can tell if your dog is a submissive dog if he is calm and not aggressive. He will show you signs like lying down, lowering his gaze, making his body look smaller, hiding, licking another dog’s chin, or moving his ears back. Most of the time this behavior is perfectly normal. However, if your dog is overly submissive and fearful, you might want him to be able to exert his dominance a little better.

Keep in mind if you have more than one dog, one will take the role as the alpha dog and the other will be the beta dog. They won’t see themselves as equals. One will always be more submissive than the other. Submissive behavior in a dog is a natural response and you should not feel as if they fear you. There are ways to help your dog be more dominant if you feel that they are overly submissive. If your dog has anxiety issues that also might make him seem timid, scared, or overly submissive, you can bring up these concerns with your vet.

active submission in dogs
active submission in dogs

How does my dog display appeasement or “submissive” signals?

Appeasement body signals are intended to communicate a reduction of a threat. These body postures are a dog’s way to help stop or lessen oncoming aggression or punishment by a more confident, bold, pushy or assertive dog. Dogs first exhibit passive submission signals as puppies when being groomed by their mother. The most subtle signal is the avoidance of direct eye contact (aversion of the eyes). This is a very significant gesture since the opposite of which (a direct stare) communicates a threat. It signals that the dog is putting itself at risk by not visually following a circumstance that could change rapidly.

Yawning and nose-licking are considered to be ambivalent behaviors, meaning that the dog is cautious, concerned, stressed, anxious, or has the potential to respond with aggression if the situation escalates or persists. In addition, dogs may also lower their ears, head and neck and may twist their neck sideways to look away. They may flick their tongue and often hold their tail low or between the legs. They may wag their tail but will often stop wagging or freeze when touched. These postures are often described as “appeasement” behaviors because they communicate a desire for the threat to stop and no desire for confrontation. In dog language, these postures are very clear and logical signals.

Progression of submissive signals includes: low crouching, raising a front paw, lying down, and rolling over to expose the abdomen. This behavior developed from puppyhood when a pup would present to an adult in the group. Puppies need an opportunity to learn and practice the skill of canine communication with friendly, social adult dogs. Rolling over is often a sign of extreme submission and may involve urination. Submissive rolling can be a sign of fear and/or deference and should not be misinterpreted as stubbornness or solicitation of petting. Some dogs have learned to enjoy petting on the belly and will present the abdomen to invite this attention; to determine the dog’s motivation, you have to look at the other signals he is displaying. The ultimate goal of submissive posturing is to decrease any sign of perceived threat. Other dogs read these signals as a reason to be calm and relax.

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