How to Stop Submissive/Excitement Urination in Dogs

Puppies can be trained out of this behavior

A Chocolate Labrador puppy grimacing next to pee on wood floor

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If your new housebroken puppy or rescued dog occasionally pees on the floor for no apparent reason, then you might have a dog with submissive/excitement urination issues.

Any inappropriate urination, regardless of where it occurs, could signal an underlying health issue, so it's worth knowing what submissive and excitement urination look like, and when something more serious may be going on with your dog. For older dogs, occasional incontinence is to be expected. 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 in a dominant position (i.e., looking your dog directly in the eye, bending from the waist, greeting your dog face on), then chances are your dog is suffering from an excitement issue. If the dog does pee when you arrive home, when you’re in a dominant position, or when it is in trouble, then it’s probably a submissive issue.

Either way, the situation can be remedied.

Health Issues That Cause Urination in Puppies

Before trying behavior modification, take your puppy to the veterinarian to rule out any health problems. A urinalysis will show whether your dog has a urinary tract infection, which can be treated with antibiotics. It also should show whether your puppy is suffering from cystitis, which is bladder inflammation, or bladder stones.

Your vet also will check for any indications of kidney disease or diabetes, both of which can lead to inappropriate urination.

Most medical conditions that cause your puppy to pee uncontrollably can be treated with antibiotics, although kidney stones may require surgery.

Another case when your puppy may urinate in the house (or another inappropriate place) is when a male dog has been neutered. Sometimes puppies will feel the need to mark their territory after this procedure, and it's not entirely clear why. But if the peeing continues for more than a week, that's a sign that your dog is doing more than marking its turf.

Submissive Peeing

Submissive dogs pee when they are greeted when someone approaches, when they are punished, and when there is a history of rough treatment or punishment after peeing; this is common in rescued dogs. This is also a common reaction with shy, anxious, and timid dogs.

To fix this problem, avoid scolding or yelling at your dog after it has peed. Instead, try building its confidence by teaching it simple commands (sit, stay, come), and reward your dog after each success. The same applies to teaching simple tricks (roll over, fetch); go with the reward-and-praise route.

You will also want to approach your dog in non-dominant postures. Avoid direct eye contact, approach from the side, and crouch down to your dog's level. When patting your puppy go for under the chin rather than the top of the head. Keep all greetings low key, and when the dog does pee, simply clean it up without fuss and go away. Do not forget to reward and praise your pup when it pees in the appropriate place.

Excitement Peeing

The good news for you is this usually happens to puppies under one year of age, and they will usually grow out of it. The bad news is they're not going to get out of the habit overnight.

These are the dogs that pee while playing, when you come home, or when unfamiliar people visit. Patience and understanding will go a very long way when trying to train a puppy out of this behavior.

To help your puppy with this issue, try keeping all playtime outside, or on a specially prepared area of newspaper and puppy pads. This way, if there is a little accident due to over-excitement, it doesn't have to be a big deal.

When there is an accident, just as with submissive peeing, do not reprimand or punish your pup. Simply clean it up quietly and leave the puppy (or dog, if this is happening with an older dog) alone. Be sure to clean up any stains thoroughly, so the dog doesn't smell the urine scent and think it's OK to pee in that area again.

Give your puppy treats when it pees in the correct place, and keep all greetings to a minimum. You may even want to ignore the dog when you arrive home. Does this seem cruel? It's not really, as it gives your dog a chance to calm down on its own. Ask guests to do the same.

When the dog pees while out on walks, give it praise and treats. The same goes for when the dog pees in designated areas (which is not the rug or the designer bedspread). All these things should not only help your puppy break its habit of peeing when excited, but will also help you to cultivate a calmer, more confident dog.

Behavior Training For Your Puppy

When all else fails, you may need to take your puppy to a licensed veterinary behavior specialist. Sometimes getting another point of view on the problem can help; a specialist may be able to see patterns in your puppy's behavior that you're missing.

This article has been approved by the PetMD Veterinarian Board.
Reprinted with permission from PetMD.com.