Dog Submissive Urination — Wet Greetings
A way dogs and puppies demonstrate submissive behavior is by leaving dribbles or puddles of urine on the floor near you. Even a dog that is otherwise housetrained may do this when greeting you.
Submissive urination occurs when a dog feels threatened, such as when he is being punished or verbally scolded, or when someone is reaching for him from a dominant posture (direct eye contact, leaning forward over your dog, direct head-on approach). Excitement urination occurs most often during greetings and play.
Many years ago, I adopted a Miniature Poodle puppy who needed to be put into a “good home”. He was very insecure and didn’t get along with his litter mates or humans. He exhibited submissive urination when I came home after being away. Under normal conditions he was never incontinent. I learned to ignore him when I walked into the house for about 5 minutes, and gradually over time, he stopped submissive urinating.
It may be submissive/excitement urination if:
- urination occurs during greetings, when your dog is excited, being scolded, reached for or while playing
- urination is accompanied by either submissive or fearful postures (crouching, rolling over on the back, ears back, or tail tucked)
- your dog is timid or shy
- there is a history of scolding or punishment after the fact
Submissive and excitement urination problems may resolve on their own as a puppy matures into an adult dog, is not reinforced with inadvertent attention, or not made worse by punishment. Dogs who urinate submissively should be approached with non-threatening postures. Present the side of your body instead of the front.
Your dog’s good behavior can also be reinforced with praise and treats for coming and sitting without acting submissive. If the problem occurs during greetings, then these should be kept low-key. Completely ignoring your dog for the first 5 – 10 minutes after coming home until he is calm may also help to prevent urination.
To help prevent or stop submissive/excitement urination:
- Do not scold, yell or punish your dog — this will only make the problem worse.
- Keep greetings low-key — don’t even look directly at your dog — eye contact alone may provoke submissive urination.
- Do not inadvertently reinforce your dog’s behavior with attention when you come into the house or room.
- Ignore your dog until he is calm. Tell visitors arriving at your home to also ignore your dog for about 5 minutes.
- Once your dog is calm, squat down to his level rather than leaning over to pet him.
- Pet from under the chin, not the top of the head — this reinforces confidence in your dog.
- Quietly reward happy, alert, and confident postures from your dog. Treats and quiet praise can be helpful.
- Clean up any accidents with Nature’s Miracle or use 1 teaspoon dish soap, mixed with 1 part water, to 1 part white vinegar. Do not use ammonia based products as they smell like urine.
- If possible do not clean up when your dog is watching you, and make absolutely no fuss or comments when you see the accident. The less commotion made, helps to disarm the situation. Your dog feels guilty enough, no need to exacerbate his guilt!