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How to stop submissive urination

Good Manners 102: Prevent Excitement Peeing

Puppies, and even some adult dogs, have a natural response to many common situations that leads to big-time frustration for their families (and pleas for help to us): how can we prevent excitement peeing?

If every pause to pet your pup leads to a puddle, we’ve got some suggestions to help you out of your predicament!

Submissive Urination

In many cases, this spontaneous tinkling is quite normal (if undesirable). It’s called “submissive urination” and it’s how dogs demonstrate that they’re no threat. If your dog’s inconvenient spray tends to happen when he or she is anxious or excited—when someone new comes to the house, you arrive home, or you scold them for something—submissive urination is the likely cause.

  • If your dog is under 12 months, it may be that your puppy simply has more house training to learn. Read on for action steps.
  • If you dog is older, these same action steps may also work—but, because dogs generally grow out of this behavior, if yours hasn’t yet, it’s a good idea to confirm there is no underlying medical condition at work. Visit your veterinarian to rule out any issues. There are safe products that can help lessen your dog’s chronic anxiety.

Action #1: Dial up the outdoor rewards

Whether you have a puppy or a full-grown dog, double down on the rewards for the peeing behavior you want to encourage. When your dog pees outside, give him or her plenty of praise, petting, and a treat. When you come home, or guests visit, take your dog outside first—to the same spot every time—and make a fuss over them when they urinate. Less mess for you, more positive experiences for everyone (including your dog).

Action #2: Keep greetings low key

Because excitement, and often touch, tend to trigger this behavior, it’s very important to stay calm when greeting your dog, or in transitions (like getting ready for a walk). Keep your voice and movements low key. Avoid eye contact. Don’t crouch down to play or pet them when excitement is high. And if your dog does pee, clean it up with no scolding or fussing—come as close to ignoring the behavior as possible.  Be sure guests follow these house rules too.

Action #3: Help your dog feel safe and happy

Excess peeing is more common when dogs are either anxious or scared, or when they’ve got a lot of pent-up energy. Ensuring they get plenty of time to run and play is often helpful—when they’re tired out, they’re less likely to let loose on your floor.

Also, if your peeing pooch tends to tuck his tail, cower down when you reach out, or flip over to show his belly, he may have a lack of social experience during his formative months, or simply have a nervous disposition. Peeing is his way of trying to stay safe. Playtime, walks, a calm environment and loving treatment, in conjunction with Actions 1 & 2 above, should help reduce the peeing behavior over time.

If you try the actions above for a few months without success, and you find yourself still searching for ways to prevent excitement peeing, give us a call. Having a dog with good manners makes having friends over less stressful, living with your dog a joy, and bringing them with you way more fun.

For more help training your puppy or dog, check out our training and activity calendar!

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