Answering your questions: submissive urination

My six-month-old puppy is house broken, but whenever he gets around one of his dog friends, he always pees a little. I know some dogs tend to piddle when then get really excited, but he does it all the time! Is there any way to discourage this behavior?

The dog on the ground is being submissive to the standing dog
The dog on the ground is being submissive to the standing dog

What is happening is either pure excitement, or what is known as submissive urination, which is normal canine communication.

If it is submissive urination, there would be other signals: cowering or lowering of the body, lip licking, tucking the tail and keeping the ears low and back, or even a grin. When a dog displays these signals to another dog, he is appeasing the other dog and demonstrating he is not a threat. This is very common in puppies and they can outgrow it in time with appropriate socialization. If it’s happening with an adult dog, it can be a sign of a lack of confidence or possible fear, which can be addressed with a professional.

In either case, excitement or submissive urination, it’s important to rule out any medical cause so I highly recommend getting an evaluation from a veterinarian.

In your situation, since it only happens with one particular friend dog, it sounds like a case of pure excitement, or submission to his friend. If you don’t want him to urinate inside, take him outside to meet his friend. This will prevent any accidents and frustration for you. You can also work on teaching him sit so you can get him to sit politely when his friend comes. This will take some time so practice in easy steps first before trying with his friend. The stronger you can make this cue in other situations before trying in front of his friend, the more successful he is likely to be.

Keep the energy low-key on your end. If you’re worked up when they meet, they’ll be more worked up! In addition to teaching sit, work on other cues like focus, stay and down, and on impulse control exercises. The ASPCA has a great listing of impulse control exercises/games you can enjoy with your dog.

What is even more important is what NOT to do: don’t scold or punish him! This will only make the problem worse. Don’t be frustrated or make comments or gestures that show your frustration or negative emotions. If he’s being submissive in this way he’ll only do it more in an attempt to appease you.

These tips are simple and will work on dogs that don’t have other underlying issues, such as fear or anxiety, or possible aggression towards people. Dog behavior is complex and these tips may not work in all cases. Therefore, we recommend a complete consultation from a professional if these tips do not work or if your dog has more serious behavioral issues. Contact us if you have more questions or would like to schedule a consultation.

Thank you and happy training!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

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