There’s nothing like the excitement of a puppy greeting. You get a wriggling body, a wagging tail, and licks on the face. Talk about feeling loved. But do you get a puddle of pee on the floor as well? That doesn’t feel quite as loving. Why would your puppy pee right in front of you like that? Is it a punishment for leaving them alone? Are they trying to upset you?
In truth, it’s quite common for puppies to pee during greetings. Even some adult dogs do it, and it has nothing to do with teaching you a lesson. It’s actually something your puppy can’t control. Either your puppy is peeing from excitement and needs to mature and learn emotional restraint or they are exhibiting submissive urination and need confidence-boosting. Once you recognize which type of pee problem your puppy is displaying, you can start to deal with the underlying issue.
Puppies Have Poor Bladder Control
Some puppies pee whenever they get excited. That might be when greeting beloved people, during playtime, or while getting pats and cuddles. If your puppy thinks it’s emotionally wonderful, their bladder empties. For these puppies, the peeing is involuntary as the muscles that control emptying the bladder are not yet fully developed. Control will come with time and physical maturity.
This may seem like a housetraining issue, but if your puppy is only having accidents when they’re full of enthusiasm, you know this is excitement urination. It’s common in exuberant puppies who can’t seem to control their emotions. However, many health issues like urinary tract infections or bladder stones can affect a puppy’s urination too. So, if your puppy is peeing at inappropriate times, it’s essential to get a clean bill of health from the vet before moving forward.
Excitement Urination Needs a Calm Approach
Although your puppy should grow out of excitement urination, you can still treat the situation. First, take note of your puppy’s triggers. Is it playing with a favorite toy or greeting people? Whatever activities are too much for your puppy, those are the activities you need to work on.
First, if you can, take those activities outside. That will reduce your clean-up when your puppy piddles. Second, make these activities low key. Rather than riling up your puppy and prompting an accident, stay calm in order to keep your puppy calm. For example, if your puppy pees during greetings, keep your body language relaxed and your voice quiet and low. You may even have to ignore your puppy for the first few minutes until they have unwound enough to handle your attention.
You can also teach your puppy to manage their emotions. Exercises that teach impulse control, like waiting for a treat or toy or not rushing out of the crate, will help. So will exercises specifically about relaxing like lie down or go to your mat. Rewarding your puppy for calm during training will encourage a more laid-back attitude overall. For greetings specifically, you can teach your puppy to sit or lie down rather than run around with excitement.
Dogs Communicate With Pee
But not all puppies are excitement pee-ers. For some it’s all about communication. It’s important to remember that pee has a different meaning for dogs than it does for people. Just think about fire hydrants and how fascinated dogs are with sniffing the deposits of urine coating their surfaces. Dogs use pee to communicate and not just by smell. Dogs will also engage in a behavior known as submissive urination where they use submissive body language along with peeing to tell other dogs they come in peace.
Where an aggressive dog might bare their teeth and raise their hackles, the submissive dog will hunch down, tuck their tail, and sometimes even roll over and expose their belly. Then let the urine flow. The other dog knows this is an appeasement gesture, but humans often don’t see it that way. What you might interpret as defiant or naughty is really your puppy telling you that you’re in charge.
Just as with excitement urination, your puppy isn’t doing this on purpose. It’s an involuntary reaction to the situation and an attempt to keep the peace. This is more likely in nervous or shy dogs when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. It can carry into adulthood if you don’t get to the root of the problem while your puppy is young. Once again, it’s a good idea to get your vet to rule out physical issues before moving forward with treatment.
Submissive Urination Can Be Treated With Confidence Boosting
The best treatment for submissive urination is to boost your puppy’s confidence. An important element of that is proper socialization. Make sure you introduce your pup to all kinds of different people, dogs, and environments in a positive and encouraging way. Go at your puppy’s pace and pair those new experiences with tasty treats and other rewards.
Dog sports like agility are another great way to build your dog’s self-assurance. Although puppies shouldn’t be on full-size equipment, puppy-appropriate agility skills like tackling a wobble board or walking on the narrow surface of the dog walk can teach them they can handle anything that comes their way.
It’s also important to respect what your puppy is telling you with their submissive urination. A harsh or negative response will only make the problem worse as your dog will feel you’ve yet to get the message. Keep your interactions with your puppy calm and quiet. Don’t approach your puppy from over their head or with a direct stare as that can be threatening. Instead, turn to the side and kneel down to your puppy’s level. Pat them under the chin or on the chest rather than the top of the head.
Tips for Successful Greetings
The following tips will help your puppy have dry greetings, whether the problem is excitement or submissive urination:
- Stay calm. Do not get angry or punish your puppy for accidents. Remember your puppy is not doing this on purpose.
- Use a dog diaper or belly band to help contain accidents while you work on modifying the behavior.
- Make sure guests and family members are all using the same calm greeting protocols. The more consistent everybody is, the faster your puppy’s behavior will change.
- Keep your puppy’s bladder as empty as possible with frequent walks and toilet breaks.
- Enroll your puppy in a positive training class. That will not only socialize your puppy but build confidence as well.