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Excited and Submissive Urination in Dogs

If you’ve got a housebroken puppy or you’ve recently adopted a rescue dog who occasionally pees on the floor for no apparent reason, then you might have a dog with a submissive or excitement urination issues.



Any inappropriate urination regardless of where it occurs could signal an underlying health problem. Because of this it's worth knowing what submissive or excitement urination looks like and when something more serious may be going on with your dog, if you try to combat it and it still persists, consult a vet for a health check up as the issue may be medical rather than behavioural. For older dogs, occasional incontinence is not unusual but you should still have your dog evaluated by your vet to rule out health issues. For housebroken puppies, it often takes some serious sleuthing to find the root of the problem.


If your dog doesn’t pee when you're being dominant, such as looking it directly in the eyes, greeting your dog face on and bending from the waist to maintain a large stature, then chances are that the peeing is an excitement issue rather than a submissive issue. If your dog urinates when you arrive home, when you’re in a dominant position, or when you’re telling your dog off for something they’ve done, then it’s probably a submissive issue.


Whatever the case is, the situation can usually be fixed.

Let’s start with submissive urination, why do dogs do it?

Dogs that urinate submissively are trying to show someone who they see as “socially dominant” that they acknowledge this and to escape being punished. Submissive dogs pee when they’re greeted or as someone approaches them and usually when there’s a history of rough treatment or punishment after inappropriate peeing. Because of this, the trait is more common in rescue dogs, or shy and timid dogs.


To fix this behaviour, don’t show aggression after the dog pees. Don’t hit, scold or yell at your dog after they pee and instead attempt to build their confidence by teaching it commands such as sit, stay and come. Reward it after each success. Remember that rewarding good behaviour is a better way to manage behaviour than to punish bad behaviour. This method works the same as the reward-and-praise process you can use to teach simple tricks (roll over, fetch, paw etc). You'll also want to interact with your dog using the following non-dominant postures:

  • Avoid direct eye contact, approach your dog from the side, and crouch down to your dog's level.

  • When petting your puppy, go under the chin rather than the top of the head.

  • Keep all greetings low key and take your dog outside to relieve itself as soon as you get home.

  • If your dog pees in the house, simply clean it up without fuss and go away. Don't forget to reward and praise your pup when it pees in the appropriate spot.



Why Do Dogs Urinate When Excited?

The good news for puppy owners is that excitement peeing usually happens to puppies under 1 years of age and they will typically grow out of it. The bad news is they're not going to lose the habit overnight. These are the dogs that pee while playing, when you come home, or when unfamiliar people visit. Having patience and being understanding will go a long way toward training your puppy out of this behaviour. To help your puppy with excited peeing, keep calm, have a quiet demeanour and be consistent.


Try keeping all playtime outside or on a specially prepared area of newspapers and puppy pads. This way, if there is a little accident due to over excitement, it wont be a big deal. When there is an accident, just as with submissive peeing, don't shout at or punish your puppy as this will have the opposite effect you want. Simply just clean it up quietly and leave the puppy or dog alone. Be sure to clean up any stains thoroughly, preferably using an enzymatic cleaner, so the dog doesn't smell the urine scent and associate that space or place with peeing.


Start rewarding correct peeing. Give your pup treats when they pee in the right place and keep your greetings to a minimum when you come home. Take this a step further and just ignore your dog when you come home and give it time to calm down on it’s own - then you can greet them. You should also ask any guests to do the same too.


Also while you’re on walks and out in public, reward your puppy for peeing there too so they associate it with the outdoors. You can give praise or treats here. The same goes for designated areas for peeing if you have those in your house, but ideally you want all toilet action to be taken outside. Each of these responses from you should not only limit the amount of inappropriate pee events but also helps you create a calmer and confident dog.


Health Issues That Can Cause Urination

Lastly we should cover health issues that can cause urination. Before trying behavior modification, take your puppy to the veterinarian to rule out any health problems. It potentially gets to an issue sooner and saves the time of trying to train your pup if it’s something you can’t train out of them. A urinalysis will show whether your dog has a urinary tract infection, which can be treated with antibiotics. Other diagnostic tests such as an x-ray can show whether your puppy is suffering from bladder stones or cystitis, which is inflammation within the bladder. In addition, your vet will check for any indications of kidney disease or diabetes, both of which can lead to inappropriate/excessive urination.


Many conditions that cause your puppy to pee uncontrollably can be treated medically, although kidney stones can require surgery.


Your male dog may continue to urinate in the house (or another inappropriate place) after it has been neutered. Sometimes dogs feel the need to mark their territory after this procedure, and it's unclear why. If the peeing continues for more than a week after neutering, speak with your veterinarian.


Professional Behaviour Training

When you've tried everything but your dog continues peeing when excited or submissive, you may need to take it to a licensed veterinary behaviour specialist. Sometimes getting a professional point of view on the problem can help; a specialist may be able to see patterns in your puppy's behaviours that you're missing.


Thanks for reading! Here are some other articles from our dog section that you may find useful!

How To Implement Puppy Time Outs

The Best Dog Breeds For Family Homes

How To Raise A People Friendly Dog

How To Introduce Your Dog To Other Dogs

Common Behaviour Issues In Dogs


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