About puppy urination

Puppy and toyCredit: Photo by Jane Gates

When dogs are young puppies, it takes them time to learn to control the muscles around the bladder. We expect to take time to house train a dog, and young pups are able to hold it only for a short time until their bladders grow in size – even if they want to hold it longer. Each dog learns to be housebroken in his or her natural time if given proper encouragement. But all too often some pups pee readily whenever they get excited. As the young dog gets larger, urination can become a problem when greeting owners or guests.

Urinating when excited has nothing to do with being house trained. Do not get angry at your pup.

Some dogs take a little longer to develop muscular control, so be patient. Expect females to take a little longer than males. When the problem persists beyond five or six months of age, however, it may be more of a behavioral issue than one of physical control.

Dogs communicate mostly with body language and dominance and submission are an important part of the natural pack instinct. A common way for a canine to express submission is to pee. Since you, as the owner, are likely to be considered the lead member of your puppy’s pack, he or she may be simply showing you respect.

As humans, this may not be exactly what you want in the form of submission! So it is up to you to keep your top dog position while minimizing you pup’s desire to show submission. 

  • Be less intimidating by reducing your dominant dog language. Being bigger or standing atop a dog is dominance to a canine. That means that when you bend over your dog, pat him on the head, stare directly into his eyes or straddle his body you are actually telling him you are boss. If you want your puppy to relax around you and not ‘answer’ with submissive urination, these are movements you want to avoid.
  • Instead, scratch you dog under the chin, squat down to greet your dog or approach him from the side. If excitement encourages your pup to leak, try keeping him calm. You may have to ignore the little fellow at first until he reduces his agitation. Make your greeting or the greeting of any visitors into a calm hello. Use a soft low voice. Greetings should be happy events, but more controlled and less excited until the pee feels he is receiving more of a reward by not urinating, he will be encouraged to follow the new behavior over the old. Rewards can come in many forms. An edible treat, a favorite toy or even an affectionate scratch (remember not to reach over the head as a dominance gesture) can all be rewards.
  • Even if it annoys or frustrates you when your puppy urinates while greeting you or friends, hold your temper. Remember the dog is not doing this to make you angry. Yelling, punishing or scolding will be escalating the excitement and the overall problem -- the exact opposite of what you want. More anxiety on the pup’s part will only make the desire to submit and pee worse.

Treating you canine friend with calm affection will make the problem of urination when excited go away before long. Give the pup time and help him grow in confidence so you can have fun together both at home and away from home. Let him know you are both master and friend and before you know it, your puppy will outgrow this awkward problem.