Excitement and Submissive Urination

Ellie has a problem. A peeing problem.

Now, don’t get me wrong, she is house-broken. She doesn’t pee and poo randomly indoors. Instead she seems to lose control of her bladder at specific times. The specific times tend to involve someone talking to her or petting her.

I first noticed this pattern when Chris greeted the dogs after coming home from work. It’s a mystery to me that this never happens with me. I also noticed the peeing when I have guests over or when we visit others. I ruled out the little accidents as marking of areas or people because as long as no one excites her attention during first encounters, nothing happens.

In the past, Argos has had  a UTI infection. Concerned that Ellie’s inability to control her bladder was a manifestation of a more serious health issue, I spoke to the Veterinarian about it during her last visit. He had no reason to believe it was anything serious and in fact assured me her accidents had more to do with excitement and/or fear, than a health related issue.


Sure enough, I came home and did my own research. Ellie has been displaying symptoms of excitement urination. Many websites use excitement urination and submissive peeing interchangeably and I don’t think it helps people understand how best to resolve the issue. I diagnosed Ellie with excitement urination for two reasons.


  1. State of Mind: When Chris and I come home, Argos greets us by jumping waist high and we respond with petting and baby voices. I know its wrong. I know that it’s anxiety mixed with excitement and it is wrong to reward it with attention. I’ve tried to correct myself many times but how can I ignore a furry face when I’m just as excited to see it? It is in this very stage of excitement and anxiety that Ellie pees because she acts the same way and we respond the same way.

  2. Chris, my family, and friends have tried to ignore Ellie’s frantic excitement but not Argos. They greet Argos as usual and guess what? Ellie has an accident. No one is saying anything to her but she still hears the ruckus Argos forms, the squeaky voices and she loses it.

The solution is rather simple. Ignore the dog. When Chris comes home, he ignores the jumping dogs, and goes about his routine. Sometimes it takes a while for them to settle down. Ellie will circle his legs a couple of times with a rope toy in her mouth and Argos will continue to jump in the air hoping for a “Good Boy!”. Then, disappointed, they will walk back to the kitchen where I am and lay down on the floor, just as they were right before he came in. No accidents. After a good 15 to 20 minutes Chris walks over to them, gives them a good scratch behind their ears and hands them a freeze dried liver treat.

a helping dog hand_full

Wouldn’t this be wonderful?

Steps to Resolving Excitement Urination:


  1. Understand that this has nothing to do with house-breaking.

  2. Let the dog empty it’s bladder more frequently in designated areas. Give the dog a treat after it eliminates in the designated area. I cannot stress enough the power of treats. This will help determine or confirm excitement urination.

  3. When the dog pees, clean it up and say and do nothing. It’s easy and almost involuntary to sound disappointed when you are greeted with a puddle of pee. Clean it and move on. Excitement and submissive urination is involuntary. The dog can’t help it. Don’t sound disappointed or stern for something he or she cannot control.

  4. Ignore the dog when the situations that trigger the involuntary urination come up. Does it happen when you come home after work? Come home, ignore the pup, let it settle down for a good 5 minutes and continue with your routine as you normally would.


Man With DogIf after five minutes the still pees, make it ten minutes before you direct attention to it the next day.

This new routine was put into place about two months ago and I thought Ellie was completely over the excitement urination. She quickly proved me wrong when family came over for Super Bowl Sunday. Too many people, too fast, too loud, so much going on! She couldn’t control her excitement.

We often drive over to Chris’s parents home for Sunday dinners and its the same issue. It’s so hard to tell people to ignore my dogs. I often feel they think I am being mean, either to them or the dogs. My requests are disregarded or forgotten and peeing ensues. I can’t blame them, my dogs are adorable 😀

I have no doubt she’ll grow out of it. According to my web browsings, the issue is common in puppies and sometimes it happens to adult dogs, later in life.

I mentioned earlier that I feel that excitement urination and submissive urination should be distinguished from each other  if only for the sake of addressing the issue and thus resolving it. It seems that there are other factors that account for submissive urination. For timid dogs and un-socialized puppies they are eager to show submission. This could be due to fear, anxiety or timidness.

Steps To Resolving Submissive Urination:


  1. If peeing happens, when it shouldn’t, clean it up and move on. Don’t scorn or sound disappointed. The mere act of submission is a survival mechanism at work “Look, you be the boss alright?”

  2. For submissive urinators, certain sudden gestures will trigger the issue. Don’t approach in dominant positions or with dominant gestures. Don’t approach at all. Let the dog come to you. Go down to their level and wait for the dog to make the next move. I’ve seen dogs scoot in as this happens. Dominant gestures consist of sudden movements such as bending down from the waist and talking to the dog or direct eye contact.

  3. Give a command. Sit, down, roll-over etc. and treat if the command is followed through. This will help build the dog’s confidence.

The point of any of these steps here or anywhere else on the web is to remove the situation that triggers the involuntary urination. If you just rescued a shelter dog and you suspect fear and timidness is at the root of the problem, love that darn dog and show it that it has nothing to fear anymore. Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated with your pup, these solutions do work.

I used several websites such as www.petmd.com and www.banfield.com for information and resources. I am open to suggestions for reading materials, so suggest away!