Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Submissive urination: What it is and how to make your dog stop doing it

Small puppies like Liam can be submissive pee-ers

A word of warning:  If Liam does not know you and you rush to greet him, prepare to get wet.

Case in point:  Over the weekend, we took Liam to a local pet boutique to pick out his Christmas gifts. It was a busy day, with shoppers galore, and we were busy looking at the merchandise.A clerk at the store bent over at the waist and petted Liam on the head, all the while using a high, sing-song voice.

Liam seemed thrilled with this treatment, and responded with a nice little puddle on the floor.

This submissive urination is very common in puppies. Sensitive, small dogs often respond to what they think is a threat with urination. This shows the aggressor that they intend no harm.

Most dogs outgrow this, as they become more confident. Liam has always been extremely confident, but he still responds to overwhelming greetings with urination, and I doubt that's something that will change.

There are, however, things that I can do that I haven't been doing. I should:
  • Restrict his access to people who greet him with high voices.
  • Allow new people to pet him on his chest and back, but not his head (this is less scary for a small dog).
  • Encourage people to crouch down to pet him, rather than bending over.
  • Make him sit in a calm position before he can be petted.
This is a lot tougher than my tried-and-true method: Picking him up when I think he's getting too excited. This works, as he seems more confident when I am holding him, and people are less likely to pet him on his head when he is in my arms. But it doesn't teach him anything.

Yet another resolution to add to the list.

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