How to Eliminate Submissive or Excited Urination

Generally speaking, submissiveness is a trait that all dog owners yearn to find in their beloved pets. A dog that is obedient and well trained is a joy to have around. However, for all of the blessings that come with a submissive pup, there is most certainly a potential disadvantage to their deference and respect: Submissive Urination, more commonly known as “Submissive Peeing.”

Submissive Peeing is actually quite normal behavior for the canine members of our families; some dogs pee in this manner as a way of communicating to their canine companions that they are not a threat. Not all pups are prone to submissive peeing, but those that are will most likely do so as a result of feeling either excited or intimidated.

How Do You Recognize Submissive Urination?

Postures that will likely accompany Submissive Peeing are lowering the body, tucking the tail, and flattening the ears back. Pups who struggle with Submissive Peeing are most likely to do so during the most exciting activities (like when greeting new people or animals or while being pet), and during the most “scary” activities (like when being scolded or punished). Submissive Peeing is found most commonly in puppies, and retrievers are one of the breeds that are more susceptible to the behavior.

What SHOULD I do?

Pups that submissively pee will not learn to correct their unwanted behavior from one day to the next. They will need a lot of patience, as well as training and strategic guidance, on the part of the owner. The following is a list of helpful pointers to steer your pup in the right direction:

  1. Empty the bladder. If you have upcoming events that you know will excite your pup (company coming over, for example), allow ample opportunity for pottying beforehand. A pup that struggles to hold its bladder will struggle that much more on a FULL bladder!
  2. Ignore your pup. This is critical if your pup pees out of excitement, and usually requires sacrifice on the part of the owner in ignoring your pup every single time you come home. It may seem cruel, but as a tactic for training submissive peeing out of a puppy, it has proven effective! When you first arrive home, completely ignore your pup’s existence and wait until they have 100% calmed down to acknowledge him/her.
  3. Posture is everything. Even when your pup has totally calmed, you should try to not approach your dog, but instead let your pup approach you. Don’t make eye contact, but instead look in a different direction. Crouch or squat down instead of bending over your pup. Posture is everything for your pup. Move your hand slowly towards your pup when it comes time to pet, and always begin by petting your pup low, under the chin or on the chest instead of petting over your pup’s head or back.
  4. Distract your pup. Once you begin to see results from the ignoring method, another good strategy is to find a way to distract your pup from the exciting stimulus. This can take the form of throwing some treats on the floor as your pup approaches you, or teaching your pup to sit every time you come home or you feel an exciting moment coming along.

What Should I NOT do?

  1. Do NOT scold or show frustration. NEVER scold or punish your pup for submissive peeing. Not only because this isn’t your pup’s fault, but also because it will typically make the problem even worse. Instead, if you notice that your pup begins to pee in a moment of affection or excitement, immediately stop whatever petting or attention you are giving. This will help the pup to eventually come to the realization that peeing is the best way to NOT get love and affection.
  2. Approach them directly. If you must approach your over-excited dog in order to get into your home, etc., try to approach from the side instead of head on, and present the side of your body to them instead of the front of your body.

We Humans Need Training, Too!

Considering that there are likely many folks who, just like your pup, are going to be very excited to meet and to greet their canine friend, it is important that you alert your guests to the importance of following the aforementioned indications prior to coming to your door. Especially for the friends or family who you know will be interacting with your pup on a regular basis, it is crucial that you teach and gently remind your excited friends to mask their excitement, at least until the pup calms down and learns to master its bladder.