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Does Your Dog Pee when Excited?

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If your dog pees when excited, you're not alone.  In submissive or excited urination, a dog often takes on a submissive posture or pees when approached or during greetings.  Although this problem can be seen in dogs of any age, it is most common in puppies and young female dogs.  Many dogs outgrow peeing when excited, perhaps because they gradually become less excitable during greetings or develop greater urinary control with maturity.  Good puppy training practices can help to avoid having a dog who pees when excited. 

In submissive urination, you’ll see the dog take on a submissive posture when it is approached, holding its ears back, avoiding eye contact, cowering, lowering its body, or even turning onto its back.  At the same time that the pup is fearful or anxious, it may be overly excited because it is socially attracted to the owner or visitor.

Taking a bold or assertive approach by reaching for or standing over the puppy, or by verbally reprimanding it will make the problem worse.  These actions can elicit a fear response, especially if the puppy has been punished for urinating in similar situations in the past.

The best solution is to work toward replacing the excited and possibly fearful greeting with a calmer and “settled” method:

  • Begin by letting your dog approach you, rather than you approaching your dog.
  • Kneel down to the dog’s level (rather than standing over the dog).
  • Speak softly in a low, calm tone.
  • Pet your dog’s chest instead of its head.

All family members should consistently practice this relaxed method of greeting for a week or two.  If your dog is still overly submissive and urinates, you may initially need to completely ignore it at greeting, refraining from any verbal or physical contact -- even to the extent of avoiding eye contact.  Wait until your dog settles down, allowing it to approach only after it is relaxed and calm.

You can also teach your puppy to sit or “settle” to receive a reward.  Food rewards or toys can be used, gradually working toward a longer and more focused settle response.

Q&A

What is submissive urination in puppies?

In submissive or excitement urination, a puppy urinates when approached or during greetings.  The pup often takes a submissive posture, such as holding its ears back, avoiding eye contact, cowering, lowering its body, or even turning onto its back.

What dogs tend to have this problem?

Although this problem can be seen in dogs of any age, it is most common in puppies and young female dogs.  Many dogs outgrow it, perhaps because they gradually become less excitable during greetings or develop greater urinary control with maturity.

How is this problem treated?

The best solution is to work toward replacing the excited and possibly fearful greeting with a calmer and “settled” method.  This usually involves letting the dog approach you, kneeling on their level, speaking softly and calmly, and petting the chest instead of the head.

Does it help to punish or reprimand the dog?

Assertive actions (eg, grabbing the dog), punishment, or verbal reprimands will make the problem worse.  These actions can elicit a fear response, especially if the puppy has been punished for urinating in similar situations in the past.

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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