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Tips for Dealing with Excitement Urination

(Tuesday, January 28, 2014)

By: Mary Burch, Ph.D., AKC's Canine Good Citizen and S.T.A.R. Puppy Director, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist

I went for a walk on a trail at a local park recently. Usually, I’m in the position of saying to someone, “May I pet your dog?” However, on this day, the proud new dog owner, a delightful freckle-faced eight year old who was walking his puppy (along with his parents) approached me and said, “Would you like to pet my dog?”

Now there’s a kid who’s got his puppy on the path to great socialization.

The puppy was an adorable French Bulldog. At first, her proud owner told me, “She is one-point-five years old.” His parents corrected him. She was 5 months old, and as I began to pet her, she started to urinate.

There’s a good chance that with frequent, ongoing socialization that this puppy will grow out of this. Meanwhile, here are some tips for handling excitement related urination.

1. Instruct “friendly strangers” to approach the puppy calmly.

2. Provide frequent opportunities for the puppy to meet new people. Use systematic desensitization if necessary. Systematic desensitization would involve a person approaching about 10 feet away and then stopping. Eventually, the person would get to 5 feet away, then 2 feet, then lightly touch the dog, etc.

3. Praise and reward the puppy for appropriate (no urinating) greetings. The “friendly stranger” or someone you’ve asked to pet your puppy can offer a treat as both a reward and a distraction.

4. If your puppy has a problem related to excitement urination when you get home, be very calm and don’t make a fuss over the puppy when you come in the house. Your goal is to minimize the excitement that leads to urinating.

5. Get started in basic training classes (such as AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy) that will provide socialization opportunities and exercises that will build your puppy’s confidence.

Whatever you do, never punish your puppy for urinating.

Note: Your veterinarian can confirm there are no physical problems related to urination at your puppy’s veterinary check-up.