This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer policy
As funny an idea as this might seem, the idea of peeing on your dog to show dominance is something that is asked more commonly than you might think. The idea of having to dominate your canine is something that has gained momentum over the years and is now believed to be an essential part of owning a dog.
In some ways it makes sense. You need to make sure that you are the top dog in your household, to make sure your dog sees you as its owner, to make sure that it is below you and will never show aggression. What better way than to do something so demeaning that your dog will certainly know that it is the beta in your relationship?
As logical as it might seem – it is important to express that you should not pee on your dog to show dominance. This idea is a myth.
Though dominance is important when owning a dog, there are other ways to do this that don’t require such rash, strange behavior.
We’ve created this guide to show you the negatives of such an action, as well as other things you can do to create a healthy relationship between you and your dog. We’ll take you through the more conventional and widely used methods of training your dog, as well as some of the best behavioral training information we have that will explain the psychology of a dog within your home.
The Myth of Peeing on Your Dog
The idea of peeing on your dog to show dominance most likely comes from the idea that this will likely heighten your status and make your dog feel as though it must respect you. The idea of dominance hierarchy comes from outdated understandings of how dogs function.
For example, you may hear people talk about being the ‘pack leader’ as if you’re the leader of a wolf pack. Dogs and wolves do have dominance hierarchies – more or less all animals on planet earth have them – but with wolves, these are far more likely based around family arrangements than who in the pack is the strongest.
Dogs and wolves are not the same species, so you can’t draw direct parallels either way. Dogs have their own behavior as long domesticated animals and it’s worth keeping this in mind when you are training them.
Think of it this way – why does your human child, or younger sibling know you to be in charge? Is it because you pee on them?
Dogs aren’t so far away from humans in this aspect. Instead, your family member knows you are in charge because you feed and care for them, because you set boundaries and rules that are best for them to follow. Training a dog, whilst very different from raising a child, can be thought of along the same terms.
Another thing to realize is that dogs do not see urine in the same way that humans do. If you’ve been around dogs for long periods, you’ll notice that they are not so much disgusted by bodily fluids but instead amazed by them. The idea that a dog has the same association with urination as a dominating act as we might, is not something that is true.
Dominance Training vs Positive Reinforcement
So now that we’ve established that peeing on your dog to show dominance is a myth, let’s instead look at some alternatives to how you can train your dog to be submissive and well-trained.
The first thing to understand about dominance in relation to your dog is that you are not a dog. Your dog knows that you are not a dog too. This is very important because you should not expect your dog to act like a human, nor should it expect you to behave like a dog. What you want is to train your dog through positive reinforcement in order to sculpt their behavior into what you would like.
The idea of dominance training suggests that negative reinforcement (such as the myth we discussed before) is the best way you can train a dog, but in reality, it’s likely to be damaging to your pet.
Dominance training – particularly extreme versions – was thought to be the best way to train a dog in the past, but in recent years more effective and less immoral methods have been developed by dog trainers.
Conventional trainers are more likely to go for the idea of positive, reward-based training to create a pet that does what you would like to.
This training method is much more likely to create good behavior. It’s all about showing your dog what they should be doing and showing them that they will be rewarded for such behavior. If you praise your dog in the correct way for a specific behavior, they are far more likely to repeat this behavior in the future.
So how do you go about training your dog with positive reinforcement?
Well, it’s all about creating a positive bond between you and your dog. First, it’s important to learn what kind of positive attention your dog will respond to. Say your dog really likes food, then that can be the way you will be able to reward them for good behavior.
Once you know what your dog is incentivized by, it becomes much easier to teach them. After this, you can start setting up scenarios that will allow your dog to interact with the positive behavior.
For example, if you want to teach your dog to sit, then you begin to create a positive link between the word ‘sit’, the dog sitting, and the reward they will get once they do. This slow link is built up after many repetitions. Eventually, your dog will understand that if they sit, this is desirable behavior and that they will be rewarded for it.
When it comes to different behaviors, there are a lot of different techniques you can use to make your dog act the way you want. However, they all fall under the same principle – building positive associations between your animal and the behavior, as well as a positive relationship between you and your dog.
Your dog won’t become the ‘alpha’ in your relationship if you employ this method. You will maintain the status as provider and leader simply through a clever understanding of conventional training methods.
We hope this article has shed some light on the myth of peeing on your dog to show dominance, as well as some of the strides taken in understanding dog behavior that has taken place over the last hundred years.
Though dominance-based training has been effective, it is based on a misunderstanding of the hierarchical structures that dogs exist in nature, and is, therefore, a potentially damaging or less effective method of training your pet.
Generally, we recommend searching for methods of positive reinforcement that will allow your dog to see you as its leader, owner, and friend, instead of negative methods that could damage you or your dog.
Good luck training your pet and we wish you and your dog happiness!