Tinkle, Tinkle Little Dog: Tips for Dealing with Submissive Urination

Many puppies and young dogs go through a period of submissive urination – releasing a small amount of urine when they are greeted by their owners or visitors. AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer Christie Canfield gives some great tips on dealing with this behavior.

Submissive urination is a normal canine communications behavior.  Dogs squat and urinate to show social appeasement and convey that they are not a threat.

Along with releasing a small amount of urine, a dog often will display submissive postures, such as cowering, lowering the body, raising the front paws, tucking the tail, flattening the ears back, and/or licking the lips.
 

beagle puppy laying


Submissive urination, also known as excitement urination, is most often found in puppies and is usually outgrown by age 1 year.  However, living with a puppy that urinates submissively can be frustrating. 

Here are a few tips to help with this issue.

Health Check: First, take your pup or dog in to the veterinarian to rule out any medical condition that may be causing the issue.

No Scolding: Since this is an involuntary biological reaction by your dog, you need to find out what triggers the behavior and modify the interaction accordingly.  So remember to never scold or punish your puppy for wetting as this will make him more anxious and worried and will exacerbate the problem.

Be Calm: This behavior most often occurs when being greeted by owners and/or visitors so make your greetings very low-key and calm. Do not excite or intimidate your puppy. You may even have to ignore him until he calms down. Instruct your visitors to do the same.

Human Body Language: Watch your body language.  Rather than approaching your dog, allow him to approach you. Do not lean over the dog. Get down to his level, turn to the side, and extend your hand.  Try to avoid eye contact when you are first greeting.  Also, pet your dog under the chin or on the side, not on top of the head.

Teach Another Behavior: You can also teach your dog an alternate behavior to do when you approach like sit or down, then reward with a treat while you calmly greet your dog.  

Take it Outside: When all else fails, greet your dog outside if possible.
 

For more advice on housebreaking your puppy, check out the video below.