Submissive Urination in Dogs
Other Behavior Problems to Rule Out continued...
Some dogs urinate in the house because they’re scent marking. Dogs scent mark for a variety of reasons, including to claim territory, to identify themselves to other dogs and let them know they’ve been there, and in response to frustration, stress or an anxiety provoking situation. A dog scent marks by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces. Most male dogs and some female dogs who scent mark raise a leg to urinate. For more information about urine marking, please see our article, Urine Marking in Dogs.
If your puppy only soils when left alone in your home, even for short periods of time, he may have separation anxiety. You may notice that he appears nervous or upset right before you leave him by himself or after you’ve left (if you can observe him while he’s alone). For more information about separation anxiety, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.
What to Do About Submissive Urination
Dogs usually grow out of submissive urination by the time they reach one year of age, even if their pet parents do nothing about it. However, many people find it messy and unpleasant, and some dogs never grow out of it. If your dog or puppy submissively urinates, the following suggestions might help you manage, minimize or stop the behavior.
- If possible, greet your dog outside.
- Toss a handful of small treats or a few favorite toys in the direction of your dog as he runs up to greet you.
- Ignore your dog when you first come home and walk through the door. Wait until he has completely calmed down before interacting with him. When you finally greet your dog, do so calmly. Look off to the side instead of straight at him. Sit on the floor or squat down—and avoid looming over your dog as you bend toward him.
- Teach your dog to perform a behavior, such as sit, when he greets people. First, practice the sit behavior outside of the greeting context, in a calm place, without other people around. To learn more about teaching your dog to sit, please see our article, Teaching Your Dog to Sit.
- When you pet your dog, touch him under the chin or chest, rather than on top of his head or ears.
- Keep play sessions with your dog low-key and play games with him that focus on toys rather than bodily contact.
- If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) for assistance. To find one of these qualified experts in your area, please see our article, Finding Professional Help.