Submissive Urinination – Posted in: Columns
Wondered if you had any tips on dealing with a dog that dribbles when he’s exited he’s only 5 months old but its starting to become a real problem as its happening 5-10 times a day eve right after he was out for a long pee break. Thanks for your time. P.S. your column is awesome!
The problem you’re describing is called submissive urination but could easily be called, “I’m so happy I could just pee -urination.” There’s a heightened version that happens when fear is overwhelming and a terrified dog (or human) may void as well but in a much more impressive manner. I’ve read that it happens in order to make one lighter for escape which I always thought was odd as I figured if I was so scared that I lost control of my bodily functions my legs would be just a wobble and drop behind.
Your dog’s version though is a “Howdy-Do, pleased to meet you, please don’t eat/beat me.” It’s given to the elders in a canine social group particularly the upper echelon. In our world it happens more often when strangers are met but can happen in the home when the owner is a type AAA personality or the dog is just a really submissive personality.
The traditional dog trainer advice is to advise people to “ignore the puppy” which as anyone that has ever owned a puppy other then the dog trainers giving the advice know; getting the average person to “ignore” a puppy is as likely as my getting those trainers to ignore the smack in the head I’d give them for letting a dog training book do their thinking for them. I have much better advice. Tell everyone your puppy has incurable worms easily transmitted and in humans they tend to settle into the reproductive organs.
Alternatively, I find it best to have the pup drag a leash around and to always approach the handle of the leash rather then the puppy. Otherwise, when someone comes to the door you either let the pup go to the person – and pee, or you go to the pup to prevent it from approaching in its excited state – and it pees. With the leash you can take the pressure off the pup and hold it back from a leash length away until it starts to get more confident. Same thing if the peeing is happening around you. Go for the handle not the pup. Try faking a little submissiveness yourself (without the peeing part), slow your approaches, calm your voice, relax your body.
Lastly start giving your pup something to focus on, like staying on a mat, particularly at the door where your guests come in. Just don’t start when guests are actually coming in. That would be too much too soon and might exacerbate your problem. Instead, every trip out and back begins and ends on the mat sitting far enough away to get people in and out but still keeping the pup in on the action. If you’re not seeing an improvement in a couple of weeks get someone in to assess the situation.