You love your dog but you probably don't feel as fondly about the puddles of pee he leaves behind on your floor when he gets too excited or nervous. The good news is that you can work with your dog using proper training and behavior modification to eliminate this unwanted behavior.
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Evaluating Your Dog
The first thing you need to do with an otherwise house-trained dog who has developed unexplained elimination behavior is take your pet to the veterinarian for a full medical evaluation. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a number of different medical problems can cause a dog to suffer from urinary incontinence. These issues include urinary tract infections, problems resulting from surgeries -- especially spay surgery -- diabetes, kidney or bladder issues as well as various other aliments. If your dog is peeing because of a medical inability to control his elimination behavior, your veterinarian needs to treat his condition before you attempt to train him not to pee inside the house. Even if your veterinarian cannot find a medical reason for your dog's urination, he he may be able to help you evaluate your dog's behavioral issues or recommend a trainer who can help.
Assessing Your Dog's Behavior
Dogs who urinate as part of a behavioral issue commonly fall into two categories. They are either urinating due to excitement or because they are nervous/anxious. The latter behavior is known as submission peeing. Dogs with these behaviors tend to display them during physical contact, when greeting new arrivals, playing or if the dog is being reprimanded. If your dog is submission peeing, you are more likely to see him averting his eyes, cringe, cower, roll over or flatten his ears. If your dog is urinating due to excitement, his overall behavior will be happy and energetic rather than fearful. You need to figure out which type of behavior your dog is displaying to begin correcting the behavior. Watch your dog and analyze his antics to determine if he is overexcited or anxious and nervous. If you cannot tell, enlist the help of a professional dog trainer.
Stopping Excitement Peeing
Most dogs who pee due to excitement are less than a year old. The Humane Society of the United States recommends taking your dog outside frequently for bathroom breaks to keep his bladder fairly empty, keeping play activities outdoors, keeping your own behavior during greetings and interactions with your dog as calm and relaxed as possible and even ignoring your dog until he calms down on his own before you interact with him. Spend time with your dog and praise him when he behaves properly, including when he uses the bathroom in acceptable locations. Your dog most likely will outgrow this behavior on his own as time progresses. In the meantime, owners of male dogs can purchase devices called bellybands. These are specially designed wraps that go around your dog's body and prevent his urine from soiling your home.
Stopping Submission Peeing
Your dog is submission peeing because he feels nervous or anxious when interacting with people. The ASPCA recommends greeting your dog outdoors or ignoring him when you first arrive home so that he can calm down on his own. The ASPCA also suggests tossing a few treats at your dog as you approach to settle his nerves, avoiding eye contact, approaching your dog from the side instead of from straight ahead, crouching down to get on his level during interactions and training your dog to perform a specific gesture, such as sitting or lying down, during greetings so that your dog will learn to perform that gesture and expect to be rewarded for it instead of being fearful.
Things to Consider
You cannot force a dog not to urinate. It simply is not possible. Training your dog to modify his behavior is a long-term process. Don't expect results to occur overnight. You should never punish your dog, verbally or physically, for submission or excitement peeing. Punishing your dog will not improve the behavior and may make the behavior worse in the case of a dog who is already nervous when interacting with you.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: House Training Your Adult Dog
- Pet MD: Fixing Submissive/Excitement Urination in Dogs
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Submissive Urination
- Humane Society of the United States: Excitement Urination
- Banfield Pet Hospital: Puppy Excitement and Submissive Urinating Handout
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Urine Marking in Dogs