Dear Mr. Wade,
My girlfriend’s Pomeranian consistently urinates when he’s excited. It happens constantly when I go to her house. As soon as I get in the door, I get his special greeting and then we have to clean the carpet and sometimes my shoes. I thank you in advance for any suggestions you may have. – D.H.
A fair amount of dogs do this when they’re wee pups but grow out of it soon enough that it’s not a problem. It lingers for others and others still without intervention never goes away. I’ve see dogs do it when they’re happy excited about the attention they’re about to get and others when they’re worried about the attention they’re about to get when someone is angry with them. It’s a submissive act intended to impart the message that it’s a no contest meeting. It’s their way of just trying to keep things pee-ceful.
The pat advice is tell your guests to “ignore” the dog. I’ve been hearing and reading that from dog trainers for twenty years. However, as every dog owner knows, the number of people capable of ignoring a friendly dog equals the number the number of people that can ignore pee soaking through their shoes and into their socks. People never cooperate with that sort of request. At least not enough that it’s going to significantly improve the situation. If you really want to get their attention and cooperation, instead of saying, “Just ignore him.”, say, “Oh Lord! Don’t touch him, he has a horrible case of worms!” That gets them every time. I’m only half kidding.
Here’s the real cure for your little squirt. Forget about telling people to “just ignore him” and start investing the time to learn how to teach him to ignore people. Leave his leash on all the time you’re together and use it so you can get him whenever you want. A dog that can get to the door and get overexcited before the owner can get to the dog, is not a dog with a learning disability. It’s a dog with an owner with a teaching disability. You can’t teach what you can’t catch.
Here’s all you need to teach Old Faithful: “Look at me!”, “Step back!”, and “Go to your mat!” Put a mat in the vicinity of your doorway and send him for a while there every time you’re sending him out to the bathroom, or for a walk and every time your return from those things. To help desensitize him, tempt him with fake doorbell ringing, door knocking, door opening, conversations every time you go near the door. If you really want to speed the process, take that mat to places with a few distractions like on your porch when people are walking their own dogs and build up to public places where he’s even more tempted to get off of it and keep at it until he thinks there’s a force field around it. Then use that when guests come over and leave him there for as long as it takes for him to exert self control over his too friendly faucet. Any dog trainer should be able to teach you how to get him to look at you and step back. The first you use when you get someone who “worms” or not still approaches him and the latter to give him something else to do if you think he’s thinking of going into sprinkler mode.
-John Wade the Dog Trainer