An Insider’s Guide to Submissive Dog Behaviors

Submissive Dog Behaviors are a part of canine communication. Dogs use their body language to show that they respect and accept the social order of a pack, and submissive behaviors help maintain this order.

It’s important for dog owners to understand how these signals work so that they can respond appropriately when their pup is acting submissively.

With knowledge of the nuances of canine behavior, we can better interpret our furry friends’ actions and build a stronger bond with them. Read on to learn more about this canine behavior.

Submissive dog behaviors: Top signs and body language

Understanding the signs of submissive behavior in your pup can help you better understand their emotions. Here are seven common signs of a submissive dog:

1) Cowering

When a dog cowers, it will make itself appear small by crouching close to the ground and lowering its head as if trying to hide from whatever is causing them stress.

Cowering in this way reduces their vulnerability because they think they have fewer chances of being noticed.

This behavior is usually accompanied by whimpering noises or tail tucking between legs, which further emphasizes how scared they are.

2) Licking

If your pup is licking the air or even you, this is usually a sign of submission. It’s their way of trying to show that they aren’t a threat and will do anything to please whoever they feel threatened by.

This type of behavior can also be seen when dogs roll over onto their backs as it shows that they accept defeat and are ready to submit.

3) Urinating

When dogs urinate in inappropriate places, such as in the house or on themselves, this is often an indication that something is wrong and that the dog feels anxious or overwhelmed.

This type of behavior is common among submissive pups as it’s their way of calming themselves down and showing submission.

4) Tail Tucking

If your pup’s tail is tucked between their legs or held low, it means they are feeling scared or uncomfortable.

This type of behavior is common when dogs feel threatened by a stranger or something unfamiliar in the environment. It’s their way of saying “I’m submitting to you” and that they don’t want any trouble.

5) Cringing

When a dog cringes, it will often put its head down and pull its ears back as if expecting bad news.

They may also lift one paw off the ground as if trying to protect themselves, or even attempt to run away from whatever is making them uncomfortable.

6) Bowing

A dog will often bow its front legs when it wants to play and show submission. This is because they expect the other animal or person to do something first, such as initiating a game of fetch or petting them.

7) Avoiding Eye Contact

Dogs that are feeling insecure or scared will avoid making eye contact with you. They may look away quickly when you try to make eye contact and not let their gaze linger for more than a few seconds.

This type of behavior is their way of showing submission and fear, as they believe looking directly into your eyes could be seen as a sign of aggression.

What causes a dog to be submissive?

Submissive dog behaviors can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from the environment to the canine’s individual personality. Here are three key causes that may contribute to a submissive canine:

1. Fear:

A fearful response is often seen in dogs who have had negative experiences associated with certain people, objects, or environments.

This fear can lead them to become overly submissive in order to avoid adverse situations.

2. Lack of Socialization:

Dogs who have not been adequately socialized as puppies may exhibit more timid and submissive attributes when they encounter unfamiliar stimuli.

They may also struggle with trusting other animals or humans due to lack of exposure during their early development stages.

3. Poor Leadership:

When the leader of a pack is not clearly defined, or if there is an overabundance of conflicting signals from different pack members, this can create instability and confusion that may lead to submissive behaviors.

Dogs need strong leadership from their owners in order to know how to react in any given situation.

How do you fix a submissive dog?

Submissive dog behavior can be tricky to correct, but with a few simple steps you can have your pup back on track in no time. Here are three tips for fixing submissive dog behaviors:

1. Increase Confidence Levels

Start by introducing positive reinforcement, such as treats and verbal praise when your pet exhibits good behavior.

A confident pup is less likely to cower or display other signs of submission. Consider enrolling your pooch in a training class to help build their confidence and teach them important commands.

2. Set Boundaries

Dogs need structure and rules to follow in order to feel comfortable and secure in their environment.

Setting boundaries will help establish the rules that they must adhere to, and provide an understanding of their place in your home.

Make sure to reward desired behavior with treats and verbal praise, and avoid punishing inappropriate actions.

3. Provide Plenty of Exercise

Regular exercise is a great way to help reduce submissive behavior in dogs.

Not only does it provide physical activity that keeps them healthy, but it also helps release built-up energy that can often lead to anxiety and other destructive behaviors.

Consider taking your pup for regular walks or enrolling them in an agility class where they can learn how to navigate obstacles.


Submissive dog behaviors can be difficult to understand, but they are important signs that your pet is feeling overwhelmed and needs extra support.

By recognizing the signs of submission in your pup, you can provide them with the necessary care and guidance to help them overcome their issues. Remember – a confident pup is a happy pup!

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