Many puppies “piddle” when excited or nervous, but when this behavior continues into adulthood, your dog can be defined as a “submissive urinator.” This problem, more commonly seen in females, can be embarrassing as well as frustrating, but fortunately there are steps you can take to correct this problem.
Before beginning any type of behavioral modification training, have the dog examined by the veterinarian for possible medical reasons. Disease and illness can make it difficult for the dog to control urination as can physical abnormalities. If the cause is medical, treatments such as surgery and medications may cure the problem. If a physical abnormality is not treatable, coping mechanisms such as diapers may be in order.
If your dog is found to be healthy the problem is most likely behavioral. In order to understand the behavior, you must understand the pack language of dominance and submission. Timid animals that do not wish to appear as if challenging a dominant member of the pack will roll on their back and urinate. This is proper behavior among pack animals and expresses submission. This is not “bad dog” behavior, spiteful or deliberate, but is simply a message stating “you are my boss, I will not challenge you.” Understanding this behavior can go a long way in helping you correct the problem.
Since the dog is naturally submissive, training based on encouraging submissiveness is unnecessary and will only make the problem worse. Disciplining the dog for uncontrolled urination only tells the dog you are still trying to dominate. His response will be to submit more, exasperating the problem.
When dealing with this type of personality, negative enforcement such as scolding and punishment should be avoided at all cost. Instead, use positive reinforcement when training your dog with treats, lots of praise and encouragement.
Here are a few tips to help correct the problem of submissive urination:
Obedience training can help build your dog’s confidence making him feel less threatened. Make his training fun with lots of play time.
In situations that prompt submission, use a distraction or downplay the greeting. Tell other people to ignore the dog for a few minutes until he settles down.
When arriving home, distract the dog with a ball or treat upon entering the house, or ignore the dog completely until it is calmer.
Work in gradual steps and don’t expect too much right away, and remember, be patient because accidents will happen.