Canine submissive behaviour

Avoiding direct eye contact
In the dog world, looking into another canine’s eyes can be perceived as a threat. So when you see a dog turning their head away from another dog, it likely means they are trying to avoid eye contact to show deference to the other dog and avoid confrontation.

Urinating when greeting
When a dog tucks their tail, avoids eye contact and urinates at your feet when you walk through the door, their showing signs of submissive urination. They may even roll onto their back and urinate. It’s their way of showing you that they are not a threat and that they surrender to your authority. Puppies often outgrow this behaviour, but if your adult dog is still urinating at your feet (or your puppy does it frequently), take them to the vet to rule out any medical conditions. Once you have a good health report from your vet try taking them outside immediately upon coming home while giving them minimal attention until they have been to toilet.

Rolling over
If a dog rolls over to display their belly, this is a sign of complete submission and appeasement. But this behaviour isn’t necessarily an invitation for a belly rub. Some dogs love belly rubs and will happily soak up all the attention you are prepared to give to them, while others may feel threatened by someone standing over them while they’re in such a vulnerable position.  Wild dogs like Wolves will roll over and expose their bellies to show deference to more dominant Wolves, and to avoid confrontation. So if a dog growls or snarls when approached while they are lying on their back, they are saying, “Give me some space,” not, “Come and rub my belly.”

Moving ears backward or flattened ears against the head
A relaxed dog will usually have upright and erect ears. Although it's important to understand that the position of their ears should be noted within the context of the rest of their body language, because upright and erect ears can also indicate that they are alert and attentive. And all dogs are different — some dogs move their ears to the side when they're relaxed. If they are submissive, stressed or fearful, they may move their ears back so they lie close to or flat against their head. If you have a floppy-eared dog like a Cocker Spaniel, it can be harder to tell if their ears are flattened. For those breeds, you should look at the base of the ears rather than the ear itself.

Licking another dog’s muzzle
Next time you’re at the dog park, watch how the dogs greet each other. The more submissive dog will often say hello to a more dominant, higher-ranking dog by lowering their head, avoiding direct eye contact and licking the dog’s muzzle. It’s one way of saying, “I come in peace. I’m not a threat.”

Submissive grin
When a dog greets guests at the door with a big, toothy smile, they may be displaying a submissive grin, which is their way of letting visitors know that they do not pose a threat to them. They may also have a lower posture, lowered tail, lick their lips and look away. A submissive grin is usually a friendly gesture, so if a dog approaches you while exhibiting this behaviour, it’s usually an invitation to interact. But this toothy grin should not be confused with a snarl. In general, when a dog snarls, they lift their lips vertically and wrinkle their nose to show you their canine teeth. Plus, their posture and facial expression may stiffen. Never approach a snarling dog.

Tucked-in tail or wagging tail low and fast
A dog that holds their tail down low is usually showing signs of submission. The more anxious or submissive the dog, the more tightly they’ll probably tuck their tail close to their body. And contrary to popular belief, a wagging tail doesn’t always mean your dog is happy and excited. If their wagging it quickly and holding it low, it could indicate their anxious or trying to appease you. Even aggressive dogs will sometimes wag their tail, so this behaviour (and most others, for that matter) should be interpreted along with the dog's other signals and postures.