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Submissive Urination

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Original post Submissive Urination by Victoria Stilwell on Positively

It is common for puppies to lose control of their urination at a young age when they are either really excited or slightly nervous. When they pee due to temporary overstimulation (such as an owner returning home or during particularly rambunctious play), this is called 'excitable urination.' Similarly, when the puppy experiences an instinctive fear response to something, whether it's innocuous or genuinely scary, this is called 'submissive urination.'

Excitable and submissive urination is normal behavior for puppies, and they will almost always outgrow it on their own. For some dogs, however, the behavior can continue into adulthood, in which case a qualified positive trainer should be called to address the issue.

It is important to note that even though we call it 'submissive urination,' this behavior is almost never a sign that there is a significant 'dominance issue' in your household. The concept of dominance is vastly misunderstood and should not be a concern of owners with pups who suffer from occasional 'submissive urination.'

Dogs that urinate when excited or nervous should never be scolded. Elimination can be an expression of anxiety, shyness and an inability to cope with a particular situation or can occur when a puppy or dog gets too excited. Punishment only makes the behavior worse.

Submissive Urination Can Occur When a Puppy or Dog Is

  • Being scolded

  • Experiencing a traumatic or stressful episode

  • Greeting a person

  • Being approached or approaching a person or dog

  • Showing other submissive behaviors such as cowering and lip licking.

Excitable Urination Can Occur When a Puppy or Dog Is

  • Overly excited

  • Playing vigorously

  • Greeting a person or dog

  • Engaging in a high energy activity

How Do I Stop My Dog From Urinating When Excited or Scared?

Whether your dog urinates when excited or scared the technique is the same. Be sure to keep your home environment as consistent and predictable as possible and follow the tips below:

  • Gradually expose your puppy or dog to new situations to build up positive experiences.

  • Every person coming into the home must give limited attention to your dog until he is calm or shows a willingness to engage.

  • Your dog should make his own decision about whether or not he wants to greet a person. Giving him a choice on greeting will relieve any pressure he might feel and give him more control.

  • Greet your dog by getting down to his level and try not to lean over to pet him as this body position can be overpowering.

  • Relieving the pressure your dog feels when guests come over usually curbs the need to release urine on contact.

  • Mark confident behavior with praise.

  • When attention is given to an excitable peer the release of urine is more likely, but waiting until your dog is calmer before giving attention, usually stops the need to urinate.

  • All high energy activities and play should take place outside the home in case your dog gets overly excited.

  • If your dog continues to urinate submissively or when he gets too excited your vet might prescribe medication to control the behavior.

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