Walking through the door and seeing how excited your dog is that you are home is one of the many joys that comes from being a dog owner. That love you feel for you dog may diminish a little bit when they start to pee all over your floor or your shoes. This behavior is called submissive urination. We will take a look that the evolution of dogs to explain why some dogs get a little too excited.
“I Am Not A Threat”
The first time that your dog peed while greeting you or being excited may have seemed like they were simply just too excited to hold it in or they just really needed to go to the bathroom and couldn’t hold it any longer. While those are logical answers the true reason goes back to the dogs ancestry.
In the wild before our dogs were the cute, fluffy pets as we know them, they were in the wild and ran in packs. Within the pack setting where there is an alpha dog. To show the acceptance of the alphas leadership role the dogs would lay on their back and urinate themselves. In the wild if a dog ran into a larger or more dominating animal they would pee and lay on their back to show their flank. This would show the animal that the dog was not a threat and not going to touch or attack the animal. The bigger animal will usually go and sniff the urine seeing that the dog is not a threat which then would give the dog a chance to run away. It was a technique to keep them alive. This technique is submissive urination.
You may be thinking that you are nowhere near a threat to your pup like a bear or an alpha dog is when you walk through the door. But if there is an older dog or even you as the owner are the alpha in the pack, they may still urinate. Submissive urination is most common among puppies. Usually puppies are at the very bottom of the food chain in a household (or pack). So your puppy is showing you that they know you are the boss by submissive urination. Usually the puppy will grow out of this behavior, but some dogs will continue to submissive pee into adulthood.
How To Spot Submissive Urination
If your dog pees in the following situation you may have a submissive urinator:
- When they are being scolded
- When a person or animal approaches them (especially when they are unfamiliar)
- When they are being greeted
- When there are loud noises (arguments or sirens)
- When they are in a submissive position. This can range from lowering themselves closer to the ground, a slow and low wagging tail, rolling over to show their flank, or flattening their ears.
- During exciting events or playing
How To Stop Submissive Urination
Now that you know why your pup submissively urinates how do you prevent this behavior? There are a few things you can do to help your dog not feel like they have to show they are not a threat. This can be hard on the owner to get out of the habit because of course you are excited to see your dog when you get home. You have to hold that excitement in for a the sake of your floor and your shoes. When you get home do not look at, bend over to pet, or touch your dog. All these behaviors, no matter the good intentions, may seem like aggressive behavior to the dog. Making eye contact in dog language is a challenge weather it is playful challenge or an aggressive one. As humans our first instinct is to look dogs (and people) in the eyes so try to avoid this behavior. For some dogs, especially puppies, when you bend over them or having a big hand going towards them can seem very intimidating.
Instead wait for your dog to calm down and approach you calmly. When they do pet them under their chin or on their chest so your hand does not seem like an threat. If visitors come to your house inform them do not look at or touch your dog until they have calmly approached them. If you tell them it is to prevent getting peed on your guest should be willing to follow directions.
If your dog does submissively urinate do not raise your voice, scold, or punish them. The are already trying to show you that they are not a threat to your alpha position. Your anger or frustration towards them can cause your dog to continue to pee.