Although canine urine marking and submissive urination both might make you feel similarly frustrated during cleanup time, the causes behind the actions are often extremely different. If your doggie marks, it could signal anything from mating desires to territorial defense. Submissive urination, on the other hand, is a purely nervous behavior.
About Urine Marking
If you've been noticing insubstantial wet spots popping up on mostly vertical surfaces of your residence, there's a good chance that your pooch is urine marking. He might be trying to notify female dogs -- via smell -- of his mating readiness. He also might be trying to stake a claim to a certain area of your home -- perhaps he feels competitive with the new tabby cat you recently adopted. Urine marking in some cases is actually a form of nervous peeing. Dogs who are overly stressed out and frustrated often engage in marking, whether as a means of coping with excessive fighting going on between the people at home or handling the sudden exit of their closest canine pal. If your dog is marking because of feelings of unease, the damp spots might be a little larger than those from most marking situations.
About Submissive Urination
Submissive urination is a nervous behavior that is prevalent in canine youngsters, but some mature dogs partake in it, too. Submissive urination usually occurs when dogs feel intimidated by the company of someone they believe to be socially superior to them -- someone more powerful. It also takes place in other stressful situations -- perhaps when an electrician is visiting your home to fix something. If someone is walking a little too rapidly, looking straight into your dog's eyes or even reprimanding him, the pooch might react with submissive urination -- something that's beyond his control. Submissive urination generally occurs on the spot, all eyes on the pooch. Urine marking, however, often takes place when no one is around to see.
Handling Urine Marking
If you're overwhelmed by your dog's marking habit, setting up an appointment for neutering or spaying surgery might be a good idea -- if you haven't already. Unfixed canines often behave more forcefully than those who are neutered or spayed, and therefore are more likely to make an icky, soggy mess out of areas of your home. Fixing a dog doesn't necessarily always cut out marking, but usually -- at the minimum -- gets it under control. It also is smart to take your pet to the veterinarian to make sure that the marking is indeed true marking -- not a symptom of a urinary tract infection or other health condition.
Handling Submissive Urination
Puppies who nervously pee when they're in uncertain situations usually cease the behavior once they get to around a year old. If you want to try to help the process along, however, keep your pet's life as calm and low-key as possible. This includes everything from slowly but surely bringing him into situations where other people are around to carefully scrubbing down locations of prior submissive urination episodes -- a way of effectively getting rid of the "reminder" smell. Never reprimand your pooch for nervous peeing. That might increase his nervousness, and therefore his inclination to submissively urinate -- not good. If you still have concerns, or if your pup is past a year old, it might be time to get professional assistance from a canine trainer.
By Naomi Millburn
ASPCA: Submissive Urination
PetMD: Fixing Submissive/Excitement Urination in Dogs
UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine: Submissive and Excitement Urination in Dogs
The Humane Society of the United States: Submissive Urination
DogChannel.com: A Dog's Submissive Peeing
ASPCA: Urine Marking in Dogs
The Humane Society of the United States: Urine Marking - Why Dogs Mark Their Territory
UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine: Urine Marking in Dogs
SPCA of Texas: Urine Marking By Dogs
Sacramento SPCA: Submissive and Excitement Urination
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.