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Submissive and excitement urination: 
Tips for owners

Submissive urination is defined by sudden urination when a dog feels threatened.  This may occur when someone is greeting the dog (with direct eye contact, forward posture and leaning over the dog) or punishing him, either verbally or physically.  Excitement urination occurs most frequently during greetings and play.  

Submissive urination is most common among dogs with the following characteristics:

  • shy/fearful toward people
  • history of scolding or punishment after the fact
  • fearful of handling by people
  • “soft” temperament (sensitive to punishment)
  • frequent fearful/submissive postures (flattened ears and tail, lowered body posture, rolling on back)


Excitement urination is most commonly seen in the following scenarios:

  • during play
  • during high-energy greetings
  • when over-stimulated

While some puppies grow out of this behavior, others need help from us! The following techniques can get you and your dog on the right track:

  • No punishment or scolding of any kind.
  • Keep greetings low-key and avoid eye contact. 
  • For excited dogs, avoid contact until he is calm.
  • For shy dogs, lower your body and greet from the side, rather than bending forward in a head-on posture.  This will appear less threatening and less likely to elicit submissive wetting.
  • Using positive reinforcement, train your dog to offer a different behavior:  sitting calmly for a treat is a good start!
  • If the behavior worsens rather than improves, talk to a behavior specialist about possible medications to ease anxiety. 

This material is copyright of Animal Humane Society and can only be used with written permission.

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