Why is My Puppy Peeing When Excited? (And How to Keep Him from Doing it Again)
“Why is my puppy peeing when excited?” I get asked this question A LOT!!!! It seems that a little accident here and there bring most normal people to their knees! Honestly, this is pretty normal.
And, thankfully, the submissive and excited peeing usually disappears as puppies mature… IF YOU HANDLE IT CORRECTLY. That is right; this behavior requires that you deal with it in a very specific way in order for it to disappear as quickly as it started!
Why Does My Puppy Pee When Excited?
Before we try to tackle how to deal with your puppy (or dog for that matter) peeing when excited, let us try and understand WHY it happens in the first place. I feel like, as humans, we don’t give any thought to the “why” or the empathy of dog behavior; we just want it fixed as soon as possible. I feel like we also forget when we were children.
If you think about being a kid… squatting made you have to pee. Being in cold water… made you feel like you needed to pee.
Heck, I hate to admit this in public, and on the web (hahahaha), but I still think I have a nervous bladder.
When I show dogs or get ready to be on the spot, I feel like I need to pee, even if I don’t.
Anybody remember the kid that wet himself when he stood up in front of the class and gave a report? Or one who peed a little when he was excited? Or the kid that had accidents at night?
So why, then, WHY do we expect our dogs to be different and to be ashamed? Would You?
Would you take that kid and shame him and rub his nose in it at the front of the class?
Of course you wouldn’t! So why, then, do we treat puppies differently?
When they squat to appease us, or sit (especially females), it feels like they are in the position to urinate.
So, if they are excited and have a full bladder, it is difficult for them to hold their bladder. It isn’t that they are choosing to be naughty. They aren’t choosing to urinate on the floor.
They are simply excited, and full, and in a position that makes them feel as if they have to pee. But, when you YELL at them, it makes the behavior so much worse!
Humans don’t usually submissively urinate. When we do, it is because we, literally, think we are about to die.
Your puppy is having the same feeling. If he thinks he is in trouble, he urinates. If you yell, this makes the urination problems so much worse.
In a wild dog pack, dogs have various ways of showing the alpha that they submit to their role as the alpha dog and do what it takes to avoid any confrontation. One way they do this is by rolling over onto their backs and pee all over themselves. This is called submissive urination, and is commonplace and a normal behavior for puppies.
Your puppy will (usually) outgrow this behavior as he understands his role in his new human pack as opposed to being a part of a wild dog pack. However, there are some puppies who for one reason or another stay timid well into growing into and adult, and submissive urination problems then becomes problematic in the home.
If your dog is peeing for any of the following reasons, you are most likely dealing with submissive urination:
- When he’s being scolded
- When a stranger approaches him
- When he’s being greeted by you, your family or even a stranger
- When there has been a loud noise or altercation such as fireworks or yelling
- While posturing himself in a submissive way, like rolling over and exposing his belly, tail tucking, or crouching
If you have a dog that is peeing when he is playing or is being greeted but he isn’t showing submissive posturing, he has a different problem: excitement urination.
Why does your dog pee in submission?
Dogs who pee in submission are usually timid, very shy or anxious and some dogs that behave this way may also have a history of abuse or being punished in an inappropriate way.
A dog who doesn’t understand the rules and doesn’t know what is expected of him will be confused and insecure.
Besides submissive urination, this type of dog will adopt submissive postures to appease anybody he perceives as the “pack leader” to avoid possible discipline.
How you can help your dog stop submissive peeing
To make sure your dog is healthy and doesn’t have any underlying health issues causing incontinence; it is always a good idea to take your dog to its veterinarian.
Dealing with Fearful Behaviors
All puppies go through fear stages, usually between 8-11 weeks and a second fear period between 6-14 months. It is critical to acknowledge and prepare for these. It is also crucial not to lock your puppy away or think you were blessed with the one puppy that will not have any issues. Most puppies have some struggles.
But if you are prepared you can meet these stages with well-behaved humans and other dogs during your puppy training that you know and trust to help teach your puppy that life is full of wonderful things. DO NOT take your dog to a dog park or a daycare where they may be abused and that abuse may stick for life. Also do not coddle them.
If they show fear, don’t coo to them, NEVER say “it’s okay, it’s okay”; you are reinforcing and solidifying the feeling of fear. Instead, ignore it or laugh it off and show the dog he is silly. I like letting the dog conquer his fears so that he gains confidence on his own.
I don’t want him thinking that I condone or like his fears.
So I provide back up, but I don’t force and I hope that he works through his stress.
I am always available to click and reward when he moves toward overcoming his fears.
It sets them back when you pick them up, or coo to them or pet and try to reassure them like they were people.
Dogs aren’t people, they need to figure things out on their own, so control the environment so they can’t get overly scared and hurt themselves, and help from a far to encourage confident behavior
Use positive reinforcement when training. Puppies respond to praise.
One of the most difficult hurdles for many new dog owners to get over is the fact that positive reinforcement works a hundred times better than negative reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement in dog training can go by many names, most of which are valid and worthy: reward-based training, science-based training, force-free or pain-free training, etc.
Regardless of the terminology, the general theory behind this line of thinking remains the same.
So what’s the big deal about whether or not to do positive or negative reinforcement?
A pat on the head and a treat will have a stronger impact on your dog’s behavior and training than a loud yell and a smack on the rear.
One teaches fear and causes anxiety and a whole host of other problems,
the other encourages your dog to continue to do the right thing to earn more treats and praise.
It doesn’t matter what you’re training them to do, positive reinforcement just works better.
Reward your dog for good behavior. This is perhaps the single most important puppy training tip to remember as your puppy grows.
Keep a routine and consistent environment. Be consistent. Puppies need to feel secure and consistency will not only help them learn the rules more quickly, it will help them feel more secure in your home. This is important because a dog that feels safe and secure will not only behave better, they’ll trust you more easily and will learn faster during dog training sessions.
The same applies to Puppy Obedience Training. When training your puppy, stay consistent. Stay on schedule. Block out training times for your puppy’s needs, and stick to those time slots. It can be tempting to run longer, but puppies only have so much attention that they can give before they need to let more energy out or get a break. Puppy Obedience Training will progress as planned, and your dog won’t be upset by schedule changes or loss of attention, for the most part.
Remember to stick to that schedule.
Be consistent in all things.
This includes potty training, leash-walking, positive reinforcement, feedings, etc.
Doing so will prevent confusion in the puppy as to what behaviors to follow, as well.
Consistency will make training your puppy surprisingly easy.
- Gradually expose him to new people and new situations and try to ensure that his new experiences are positive and happy. If I had to give just a few puppy training tips, I would definitely include socialization as one of them. One of the most important and useful puppy training tips is to make sure your dog is well socialized. A well-socialized puppy will be able to easily go for walks on the leash, without needing a dog trainer constantly supervising it! This can be accomplished in the early weeks and months of their life by exposing them to new people and situations. In the long run being well socialized will mean your puppy will obey your commands in any environment. This is important for their safety and of course will make life with a dog much easier.
- Avoid approaching him with postures that he may interpret as dominant or confrontational. Avoid direct eye contact; look at their back or tail instead. Get down on their level by bending at the knees rather than leaning over from the waist. Ask others to approach them in the same way. Pet them under the chin rather than the top of their head. Approach them from the side, rather than head on, and/or present the side of your body to them.
- Eliminate odors wherever your dog urinates, especially if they aren’t completely house-trained.
Don’t punish or scold him for submissive urination. This will only make the problem worse. Adding punishment to submissive urination can make your dog’s fearful behavior even more unreliable.
In his Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training, 2000, Steven R. Lindsay, said “Dogs habitually exposed to unpredictable/uncontrollable punishment are at risk of developing disturbances associated with learned helplessness.”
In other words, dogs that are exposed to flooding and punishment are more likely to develop more behavioral issues as a result of learned helplessness.
You know these dogs; you have seen them. The owner has flooded the dog and corrected the dog over and over around his fears, and the dog learns to shut down completely.
But you can still see the fear in the dog’s eyes and behaviors. In dog training, we call this a ticking time bomb. You can try to avoid the problem, but at some point, all that fear and frustration is likely to bubble to the surface and explode in aggression.
Above all, be patient. It will take time for your dog to gain confidence, but with you leading the way, they can overcome their fears and blossom into a happy, secure dog.
If your dog greets you or your guests excitedly by squatting and peeing, you might be dealing with excitement urination.
A dog that is completely house trained can still have trouble with this.
Excitement urination is not a housetraining problem; it is an involuntary reflex that requires some patience to correct.
Have you ever gone to the movie theatre and right at the story’s climax, you suddenly need to pee EVEN if you didn’t order that souvenir cup of Mtn. Dew? Annoying, right?
Or have you gotten ready to do, something fun and needed to pee, even though you know you don’t really need to pee?
Again, I will admit that I have a nervous bladder. If I think I have to be on the spot, or do something exciting, I hit the bathroom just because I don’t want to have to pee.
Your puppy is the same. When he is SUPER excited, like when you come home from work, or something exciting happens, he thinks he has to pee.
I can find a restroom.
But, your puppy is left with this feeling and this urge without being able to provide himself with an appropriate place to potty.
Also, it is best if, upon greeting, you don’t bend over the top of the puppy. Bending over can be a little scary. That kind of posturing is what a dominant dog will do to demand submission.
If you want to interact and lessen the chances of submissive or excitement urination, get on your knees to interact.
The Crate is Your Friend – Back to Basics
It is much easier to avoid excitement or submissive peeing if your dog is in his crate.
If you have been following me for any period of time, you know that here at The Dog Training Secret, we are proponents of crate training for a number of reasons and this is one of those reasons.
We want to use the power of your dog’s UNWILLINGNESS to pee in his den to our advantage by containing him in one spot for a period of time.
But here’s the trick… We need to teach him how to hold it a little longer than he wants to, but not so long that we’re becoming abusive.
Let Him out
If you know your puppy is likely to pee when he is excited, drain that bladder!
Let your puppy out prior to people coming over!
When you get home from work, let him out before interacting with him.
Allow him to drain some of his excitement!
Your pup needs a consistent schedule that you both can stick to each day. Assuming you don’t speak puppy, this is the only way that you can both be on the same page.
If you don’t have a routine in place, you can start by taking your dog out every two hours. Your dog needs to be in his crate when you are gone, aren’t supervising him and while he’s sleeping at night. This will help teach him to hold it for extended periods of time. Once you return or wake up, you should immediately take him out of his crate and continue to take him out every 2 hours.
Next, start adding more time between his potty breaks each week by 15 minutes so he gradually learns to hold it for longer.
So if you start with an 8 week old puppy and 2-hour intervals, your weekly schedule should look something like this:
- Week 1 – Every 2 hours
- Week 2 – Every 2 hours and 15 minutes
- Week 3 – Every 2 ½ hours
- Week 4 – Every 2 hours and 45 minutes
- Week 5 – Every 3 hours
A 15-minute increase is in line with your puppy’s age if you start him at 8 weeks. But regardless if he’s 8 weeks, 8 months or 8 years, adding a time gradually will help ease him into controlling his bladder without either of you feeling too much anxiety.
Puppies generally have to use the bathroom after eating or drinking, after waking up from a nap or if they have been playing for a while. So although you could take your puppy out after you see they have woken up from a nap in order to avoid a mistake, that won’t keep him on a schedule, and that’s what you want to do.
If I take my pup out at 10 a.m. and he takes a 30-minute nap in his crate, that would put us at 10:30 a.m., which is 1 ½ hours away from his next scheduled potty break. So, instead of taking him out, I will place him in his crate until 12 p.m. and then let them out of his crate to go potty. I do this each time the scheduled potty breaks fall out of line with the schedule – with the exception of after eating or drinking water.
If I take my puppy out at 7:30 a.m. and feed him at 8 a.m., I will take him back out 15 to 30 minutes later and start my 2-hour schedule from that point.
I know I keep mentioning this, but it is SO IMPORTANT for you to understand that in the dog potty training process, there are going to be accidents.
What you do when your dog has an accident is very important.
Yes, I know that nobody likes cleaning up after the fact but if you react negatively your dog will start to associate your anger or frustration with him going to the bathroom and will be afraid to eliminate around you.
I would say this is the biggest mistake people make while dog potty training.
So instead of reacting negatively by yelling or even rubbing their nose in it concentrate more on heavily rewarding the good behavior. Now your family has a potty trained dog they can enjoy in the house or if you’re dog sitting you can return the dog fully potty trained to the owner with of course a small bill!
If he, or more appropriately she (since females have more of an issue), has an accident – ignore it!
All of these things will make this behavior WORSE!
In the dog world, urination upon greeting is a way of saying “Please don’t eat me, I am no threat”; so by using aggression, you ensure that the behavior gets worse! I can’t say this enough!
Remain calm, get the pup outside, and then clean it up. If you are patient and don’t overreact, chances are this behavior will go away very quickly.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.