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My mom once had a German shepherd female who would submissively pee whenever they came home and looked her in the eyes. The vets gave her the advice that she should never look the dog in the eyes when she came home, as a strategy to break the behavior.

My brother, who was living with my mom at the time, thought this advice was ridiculous. He said every time he came home he deliberately approached the dog and looked her straight in the eyes and was very affectionate with her, scratching her ears, etc. The first 3-5 times she peed a little, but after that she completely stopped and went on to be a great dog.

My question is: is there a theory of dog-training that explains why this worked? My brother's approach seems like it would work intuitively, but since it is never offered as advice I wonder if there is more to this.

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While I cannot look into that specific dogs head, what makes sense to me is:
The dog learned to connect "they come home and look me in the eye" with "and now they are gonna pet me and be very nice!"
As this then overrides the dogs instinctive "he's looking me in the eye, he is angry, I better be very small and harmless!", no more submissive peeing!

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