Do Dogs Pee to Show Dominance? Myths vs Reality

As beloved companions and faithful friends, dogs have been an integral part of human lives for thousands of years. Yet, despite our close bond with them, many dog behaviors continue to puzzle and intrigue us. 

One such behavior that often raises questions is urination, specifically whether dogs pee to show dominance. This article aims to debunk this common misconception and shed light on the real reasons behind dogs’ urinary habits.

Understanding Canine Communication

Before diving into the misconception of dominance through urination, it’s essential to grasp how dogs communicate. Dogs utilize a combination of body language, vocalizations, and scent-marking to convey their feelings, intentions, and territorial boundaries. 

Scent-marking, particularly through urine, plays a significant role in this communication process.

Scent-Marking: The Purpose Behind It

Scent-marking is a natural behavior in dogs, and it serves several crucial purposes:

Territory Marking: Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and they use urine to mark their territories. By leaving their scent in specific areas, they communicate to other dogs that the territory is occupied.

Social Communication: Scent-marking also functions as a way for dogs to communicate with each other. They can learn essential information about each other, such as age, sex, reproductive status, and emotional state, through the chemical signals present in urine.

Mating and Reproduction: Female dogs in heat release pheromones in their urine, signaling their readiness to mate. Male dogs can detect these pheromones from miles away, allowing them to locate potential mates.

See also  Can I worm my dog twice in one week?

Debunking the Dominance Theory

The idea that dogs pee to show dominance over others is a misconception rooted in outdated dominance-based training methods. 

Dominance theory suggests that dogs are constantly striving for higher status within their pack, and urinating on objects or other dogs is a way to assert their dominance.

However, modern scientific research on dog behavior has largely discredited dominance theory. Dogs are not wolves, and they do not form rigid packs with a strict hierarchical structure like their wild ancestors. 

Instead, they are social animals that value cooperation and rely on trust and positive reinforcement in their interactions with humans and other dogs.

Submissive Urination

While dominance-based urination is a myth, it is crucial to recognize the existence of another form of urinary behavior: submissive urination. 

Submissive urination occurs when a dog feels fearful or anxious, and it is a natural response to perceived threats or dominant behavior from humans or other dogs.

Submissive urination is not an attempt to assert dominance; rather, it is a display of appeasement. 

Dogs that engage in this behavior are often trying to avoid conflict and show deference to a perceived authority figure or a more confident individual.

How to Deal with Submissive Urination

If your dog exhibits submissive urination, it’s essential to approach the issue with patience and understanding. Punishing or scolding the dog for this behavior can exacerbate the problem and increase anxiety.

Here are some tips for dealing with submissive urination:

Create a Positive Environment: Create a positive and supportive environment for your dog. Use positive reinforcement training methods to build their confidence and trust.

See also  Can You Put Litter Box Next To Food?

Avoid Intimidation: Avoid any actions or gestures that might be interpreted as intimidating or threatening by your dog. Approach them calmly and avoid direct eye contact or loud voices.

Socialization: Proper socialization is essential for building a well-adjusted and confident dog. Expose your dog to different people, animals, and environments from an early age to reduce anxiety.

Consult a Professional: If your dog’s submissive urination persists or becomes a significant concern, consult a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist for personalized guidance.


In conclusion, dogs do not pee to show dominance. The misconception that they do is based on outdated dominance-based theories that have been widely discredited by modern research on dog behavior. 

Instead, dogs use urine as a form of communication to mark their territories, convey information to other dogs, and facilitate reproductive processes.

Understanding the true purpose behind dogs’ scent-marking behavior is crucial for fostering a deeper connection with our canine companions. 

By recognizing the role of scent in their communication, we can better support our dogs’ social and emotional needs and build a stronger, more positive relationship with them. So, let’s embrace the wonder of dog behavior and continue to learn more about the fascinating world of our furry friends.