Why Does My Dog Submissive Pee?

Published on January 13, 2015 by in Blog, Dog Training

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As a dog trainer in the Toms River area, I speak with dog owners everyday.  While each dog is unique and has their own personality and traits, the behavior people observe in their dogs and question is usually the same.

One of the most common questions asked is, “Why does my dog submissive pee?”  The dog parents are observing that their dog urinates when they meet new people, new dogs, when someone walks in the door or approaches them.

submissive pee

I always love that dog parents notice these instances and as this great question.  So, I want to take some time and explain why this happens.

Video Transcription:

Hello, I’m Megan Ventura with Endless Pawsibilities and today I’m going to talk about submissive urination.

The term is not really accurate.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion with submission and domination in the dog world, but that’s for another day and another topic.

Today, what I want to explain is how a dog does not necessarily have control of what we know as submissive urination.  A better term to describe it would be excited urination because that’s typically what happens.

Often young puppies and young dogs will have a loss of urination control when they’re greeted by somebody or something.

And here’s what you have to understand.  The bladder system is partly controlled by our sympathetic nervous system, and this sympathetic nervous system is also responsible for the fight or flight response that we have when we’re scared or stressed.

So when the dog is overcome with some fear or excited by something they may be unsure of, the nerves are stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system, not because a dog is intending to say “I submit.  Do whatever you want with me.”  It’s a body’s natural response that they don’t have control over.

Now there are some instances where urinating upon greeting can be a conditioned response but that’s not really common.  It’s more when a dog is insecure or unsure and the excitement is just too much for their body and the stress stimulates the bladder to release.

Some believe that releasing the urine allows to body to become lighter so than when the fight or flight mechanism is kicked on, the body is lighter, that it can get away faster.

Now a lot of times I like to relate what we see in our dogs to people or humans because there are a lot of similarities.  So I have children, and the first time that this really hit home for me, in my own life was with my son.  At the time he was three and a half years old attending a preschool and he was fully potty trained.

The first day of preschool it was a three and a half hour program.  I picked him up and they said “You know, just so you know, he went to the bathroom three times while he was here”- in three and a half hours.

Now at home prior to school he would,  go in the morning when he woke up and then maybe once in the middle of the morning, and then again at lunch time, and so three times between 7 AM and 12 PM.

Here, between 8:30 and 11:30 …, 8 and 11:30, excuse me, he had gone three times in addition to before we left the house and when we came home for lunch.

So, as he got more comfortable with his environment over the next few days of this new preschool, that went away.  So what was happening was his body was unsure and his body was excited, and it was from stress.

And stress can be good or bad, but the stress that his body was feeling was enough to excite the sympathetic nervous system, which caused him to urinate more frequently.

So our dogs have this as well.  Now often when a dog urinates, other dogs understand that that dog is not a threat, because clearly they’re so stressed or uncomfortable by a situation that their body releases urine,  “so they must not be intending to pull anything over me.”

But it’s not because they’re saying “I submit. You can do whatever you want with me.”

So, ’til the next time we talk, have a great day.

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