Train FurKeeps Q&A: Help! How do I stop my dog’s submissive urination?

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In January, Petfinder held a live Q&A on Facebook with pet trainers Andrea Arden and Mychelle Blake. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting some of our favorite questions and answers here on the blog. Have a pet question? Check back regularly for news about our next live Q&A!

Q: How do I get my 6-month-old puppy to stop “submissive peeing”? He pees every time my husband talks to him or my other dog growls at him! – Sydney V.

A: Submissive urination happens when a dog is lacking in confidence and eliminates upon greeting as a doggie way of saying, “I’m deferring to you, please don’t hurt me!” There is usually a genetic component at play (i.e. the dog has a softer, less confident temperament). But this issue is almost always exacerbated by punishment. Even a mild verbal reprimand can be enough to send some dogs down a worrisome slippery slope.


Don’t Punish Your Dog
Often, what people are punishing a dog for is not what the dog thinks he is being punished for. For example, if you come home to find a piddle and reprimand your pup, you may think you are teaching him about housetraining, but the dog may actually be learning that people coming home or walking up to him is scary.

How to Halt Submissive Urination

  1. Refrain from verbal or physical reprimands of any sort.
  2. Teach your dog to have a new emotional response to your husband. Ask your husband to avoid eye contact when he walks up to the pup and to toss a treat or two on the ground. After a few days of the dog not piddling upon greeting, ask your husband to offer the treat from his hand.
  3. At the same time, you should practice teaching your dog to hand target and then transfer this skill to your husband once your dog is doing it confidently with you. A dog who knows how to greet by confidently touching a hand to say “Hi” is far less inclined to submissively urinate.

Andrea Arden, CPDT
Andrea Arden Dog Training
New York, NY

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