Submissive Behavior: Tips for Managing Submissive Urination
Brought to you by the AKC GoodDog! Helpline – the AKC’s 7-day-a-week training support service
By Hilarie Erb, AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer
Do you have a leaky puppy? Most puppies lose control of their bladders, at least a little when they get excited. But they usually outgrow it by the time they are adult dogs. It’s called submissive, or excitement, urination, and it isn’t a housetraining failure or training issue. Puppies simply do not have strong bladder control when they get excited, and it can happen to mature dogs who feel insecure when greeting people or other dogs.
Never punish a puppy or dog for submissive urination. She can’t help it, and punishment or scolding will only make the problem worse. If your dog has an accident, stay calm and take him outside before cleaning up.
“Never punish a puppy or dog for submissive urination.”
So, what should you do? The first thing to do if the problem seems extreme is to rule out any health problems with a visit to the vet. If all is well then try these management tips:
- Make sure you are giving the puppy plenty of chances to potty outside – more than usual. This will help make the accidents smaller if they occur.
- Greet the puppy outdoors if possible. When someone comes to the door, or you come home from work, have a leash at the door so greetings can happen outside.
- Try having the puppy in a crate before a visitor arrives. When she’s had time to get used to someone new being there, she may be in a calmer state to meet the guest – outside.
- Keep greetings calm and boring. It’s an ego boost when your pup turns inside out with glee when she greets you, but it does not help her to control herself!
- If you are having lots of visitors, say for a party, plan to put your puppy in her crate with a nice treat, in a quiet room where she won’t be in the overwhelming situation of having to greet so many people.
For an adult dog with submissive urination issues:
- Greet him in a sideways posture, not face-to-face or looming over him. Avoid direct eye contact. Get down to the dog’s level and let him approach you. Pet under the chin or on the chest, not on top of the dog’s head. Hold out an open palm with the fingers down for her to sniff.
- Try to greet the dog outdoors.
- Be calm; greet in a soft voice.
- Give guests treats to offer your dog. This will redirect her mind-set, and she will move forward to accept the cookie.
- Teach your dog to Touch and he’ll have a behavior to use in greeting people, and you can show your friends how to greet your dog.
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For more tips and advice on training your dog, join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.