Help with a dog that likes to pee in the house

I have a bit of a problem with my dog. Well actually she’s my girlfriend’s (Iris),dog, but since she lives with me it’s basically the same thing, except I’m not the original owner of the dog.

Whenever I come home at night, which is usually first, the dog will squat and pee. We’ve been keeping her in the kitchen behind a gate, but she seems to have broken that and for the last couple of days she’s been able to roam the house. When I do come home, she gets excited, wags her tail, then squats and pees. This is more of an annoyance in the kitchen, but last night she peed on the bed, the floor, the kitchen floor, under the table, and on the couch.

What I don’t understand is that she started doing this four months ago or so, at first she was fine. I know she likes me since she plays with me, brings me her toys, will even sit with me after she pees. I guess I could understand it more if she was afraid of me, but she doesn’t seem to be.

The dog is very attatched to Iris, she will basically just sit around moping until Iris gets home. May times she will not eat or drink, nor even go outside.

I’d like to find a way to keep her from peeing all over the place. Today she’s in her crate, which is where she sleeps, meaning she’ll be in there for 15+ hours a day and I don’t want to have to do that to her. We’ve been to a trainer who called it submissive peeing and told me to give her treats when I get home to take her mind off of peeing. She doesn’t take treats off of me when I first get home so that hasn’t helped. Hell last night she even peed on her treat! I need some help to keep all of us happy.

A trip to the vet might help. She may have a physical problem. Obviously the trainer was no help. Consider consulting with another trainer. You may want to put her in the crate and take her, crate and all, outside when you get home. You need to brake the habit and retrain her. Taking her out oftener and stay till she performs will help. Perhaps a dog behavior expert will come along with something more specific in retraining. :slight_smile:

This behavior is called submissive urination.

Hi Edward
I have been training dogs for years, so I hope the following advice will help you. Sounds to me like the dog has a problem with you, not the other way around as you put it.

You have not said whether or not she does this with Iris as well? You have also not said whether or not she is normally clean inside when she is not excited? If she doesn’t do this with Iris, the ordinary treatment for submissive peeing wont help, and you will have to modify the way the dog views you, Iris, and her relationship with both of you. The dynamics of that will have to change.

Anyway, for now this is what you should. This is a two pronged approach which will not only treat the symptom, but also the cause. To treat the peeing.When you come home, don’t go inside. Open the door and call her out. Lead her to the area where she normally does her business, then acknowledge her. Pick her up and carry her as a last resort if she wont come, but a bit of encouragement should do the trick. Once she pees, praise her, and stay there till she is over the excitement. Then take her inside.

You will have to do this everytime you come home, but eventually she will get the message. Get Iris to do the same when and if she gets home first-whether or not she does it with Iris, she will still have to get the same treatment from both of you. Once she gets the hang of this, (the dog, not Iris)when/if she does pee inside, growl at her immediately and promptly get her outside, picking her up as soon as she starts peeing should do the trick.
The other issue you are having here, which I think is contributing to the problem, is her dependence on Iris, and how she views you in relation to that. You are going to have to get her over this, and the best way to do that is to have Iris ignore her when you are all sitting down together. As Iris is not responding to her demands for attention, you will be calling her, patting her, playing with her etc. Whatever rocks her boat. Do this consistently, and she will beging to feel differently about you. It could take a while though, depending on her age, how long she has had Iris to herself if she has, and a host of other factors. Be patient, but diligent, and only have Iris ignore her when you are all together and relaxed.

While not 100% sure here, from what you have written it sounds like you are either not really into dogs, feeling a bit left out because she prefers Iris, or something similar. Was the dog with Iris before you were, or did you both meet the dog at the same time?

Whatever it is, and you will know, you have to get the dog to feel like you want her as much as Iris does. Dogs are way sensitive, and if you are feeling any of the above, she knows already. Hence the behaviour. If two or more people don’t feel the same about a dog, the conflict can give way to sometimes bizarre behaviours.

You haven’t said how old she is, but if its not a case of the dog having Iris before you did, could it have started about the same time she started experiencing canine puberty. (the dog,not Iris) Behaviours like this are less likely if the dog has been desexed from a very young age, but that is no guarantee either.

So all you can do is to try the above, and keep at it. Persistence, consistency and repetition are the key to training any dog. It may take a number of weeks, but eventually you should see improvement.

I hope this helps you


I do not know why I missed the last paragraph in the OP when responding but I did.

Your trainer diagnosed the problem correctly but gave you the wrong response to it. Google on DOG + SUBMISSIVE + URINATE and you will get all sorts of hits. If you don’t want to bother the advice above is pretty much repeated over and over. Ignore the dog when she pees, do obediance training with her.

There are some variations of what training you might do (agility is an option for instance) but it all amounts to the same thing in the end to increase the dog’s confidence level. Other recommendations are:

  • Get her out more so she can socialize with other dogs.

  • Flat out ignore her for a few minutes when you first come home.

  • Avoid reaching over her head to pet her or leaning over her, avoid eye contact (these present you as dominant). Instead crouch down and present yourself sideways and pet her chest.

  • If you have a deep voice you might try and lighten it a bit when addressing the dog. Deep voices are perceived as more threatening. Monotone voice is bad too.

  • Praise the dog like crazy when she pees outside. More than just praise, play with her too…get goofy and have fun with her. Anything to make her identify that peeing outside is one of the best things in the whole world.

  • Consider getting a dog walker to walk the dog in the afternoon if she otherwise would spend 15 hours alone. I know it can be expensive so may not be an option but something to break-up her day and give her more chances to go out and socialize would be good if it can be done.

  • Be patient…it may take a little while.

I can answer some other questions. The dog, Savanna, is around two and a bit. Iris had her since she was around eight months and been living with me for the last eight months so Savanna has known Iris for a year longer. At first the dog was good, no peeing, then after a couple of months she started to pee when I came home on the couch. We put her in the kitchen to keep her from peeing on the couch every day.

Savanna does not pee for Iris, she will go outside without much problem, though she doesn’t go out when Iris gets home for a few minutes. Then when the dog calms down she will go out. To the best of my knowledge she has never peed for Iris.

We had training, but it was for sitting, walking, those types of things, she was house broken. I do try and play with her, and while I admit I’m not a total dog lover I do like her. I will give her attention, feed her, take her for walks, give her treats. I don’t ignore her, though I don’t like her as much as Iris. I have tried to do a number of things when I get home, one suggestion was to give a treat to her so she ignores the pee, well she didn’t take the treat, peed and ran off, came back got the treat, didn’t eat it, went upstairs, then peed on the bed and the treat. If I ignore her she will come close to me and pee, usually on the couch. If I talk to her she pees right away.

Today she is in her crate and I’m not sure what to do. I do not want to leave her in the crate until Iris gets home, nor do I want her to pee on the bed again. She will also pee on me if I pick her up so it’s not easy to get her outside.

There are other things I should say just in case. Iris house sat for me while I was gone for a month. I did know the dog before that, though not a whole lot. When I came back Iris stayed so maybe the dog didn’t know it was my house and was thinking it was her house. She likes to play with me more then she does Iris, or it seems that way. Savanna will being her toys to me to throw, and she has no problems with me taking her for walks, she really likes that. We also have a cat, but they seem to get along just fine, no fighting there, just some playing.

This still sounds for all the world like submissive urination.

That she did not do it at first but started to later just means she has come to view you as the new Alpha in the pack. When you were a stranger you weren’t a pack member so less of an issue. Her bringing toys to you does not necessarily mean she likes you better than Iris (although she might) but rather feels you need to be sucked up to more as the Alpha.

Giving the treat to her is the wrong move although in this case it sounds as if it wasn’t working anyway. She is probably too worked up at seeing you to be thinking of food.

Submissive urination is not related to being housebroken at all. The dog may be perfectly potty trained and still do this. It is even quite possible the dog does not consciously know she is doing it as it is more reaction than a chosen course of action (along the lines of a person who gets really scared and pisses themself).

Unfortunately I doubt there are any quick solutions to this. Try the advice above or Google for advice on correcting submissive urination. Be sure to get anyone who deals with the dog to play along with the routine. For a dog it is all about repetition and consistency. It’ll take some patience on your part but you should get there. If not seek out professional help.

– As a side note my best friend’s girlfriend had two Dachsunds and the male would pee anytime he pet it. His girlfriend made some snarky remark to him once and in response he picked up the dog, pointed it appropriately at his girlfriend and pet the dog who obligingly went pee. Ok…kinda rude but you had to be there…one of the funniest things I ever saw with the GF squealing and my friend chasing her around the house with a Dachsund held at arm’s length getting pet and peeing as his weapon (everyone was laughing their heads off…GF included and the dog didn;t really pee very much so the mess was actually pretty minimal). Iris may not thank me for that story and putting ideas in your head but it needed sharing.

BWAAAAAhaa haa haa haaaa! Thank you for that image!

Ed The Head, Whack-a-Mole’s advice is spot-on. My parents had a submissive pee-er, Sophie, for many years. She didn’t have the problem until after she hit puberty. I lived at home for the first year or so of her life, and when I’d come home for visits after that, she’d pee on seeing me again. She always peed when meeting new people or not-new scary people—scary included energetic, tall, male, and/or deep-voiced people. My dad, 6’5" and a baritone, was both very scary and absolutely adored; it took her a while to stop dribbling a little whenever he spoke to her, but eventually she did.

heh heh… once, my sister, having a fit of really awful teenager behavior, decided to call 911 and tell them her parents were abusing her (by not letting her do something she wanted to do, of course). The uniformed officer that responded scoped the fib right away, but had to do it by the book—interview the Alleged Child Abuse Victims away from the parents, etc. Sophie came with us to get interviewed, one big wag, in absolute awe of the Alpha-est Alpha she’d ever met… she couldn’t get close enough to him, huddled up right to his ankles… and peed all over his boots.

We got around the worst of it by having her greet everyone outside. She wouldn’t think of running away into the scary world, so Mom and Dad let her out to sniff the visitor, wag, and pee on the front walkway, then follow the visitor inside, out of ammo.

I learned to be as unalphalike as possible with her, too. Info on wolf and dog body language was very helpful (I recommend Julie of the Wolves as both a great read, even if it’s for Young Adults, and a well-researched source). Alphas look you right in the eye and have “big” posture, whereas omegas peek from the corner of the eye, try to look small and close to the ground, and wiggle a lot. Sophie particularly responded well to me if I got down on all fours and faked a “play bow.” She decided I was an unusually shaped co-puppy, not scary after all.

That said, Sophie had my Dad as a stable alpha, and some dogs get really confused if they don’t have one. You probably can’t be a convincing co-puppy in that case. If Savannah is just now deciding you’re the alpha, maybe she needs extra encouragement to believe you’re not considering kicking her out of the pack—more interaction she doesn’t see as confrontational. Maybe more play with you and Iris together?

I hope you’ll keep us updated!

Thanks Ed! It’s about time that I chime in on a few things as well. Just to add, Savanna is a Bedlington Terrier and we are her second owners. She was originally bred to be a show dog, but her first owners couldn’t keep her and that’s how I ended up adopting her. Anyway, I’m very concerned about how dependent Savanna is on me. I’m afraid this may be partially my fault. When I first got her, she received unlimited attention from me. Once Ed and I moved in together, she obviously wasn’t getting all the attention anymore so I think this may be more of a jealousy issue. At first she would always try to get between us, especially on the couch (she sleeps in her crate at night!). There have even been a few ocassions when she has even snapped at Ed. Fortunately, she has gotten much better about this, but last night she did it again when he tried to pick her up to take her outside to pee. Don’t get me wrong, she is not an aggressive dog at all.

Even though she has known Ed for almost a year now, she is not herself when I’m not around and behaves very differently towards him. When we are all together, she is happy and wants attention from Ed just as much as me. I’ve even tried ignoring her so she and Ed can establish their own relationship. As Ed mentioned, she brings her toys to him more often and really enjoys their playtime. I know dogs are very senstive so sometimes I wonder if she acts like this when I’m around just to impress me. She is a totally different dog when I’m not around, she won’t eat, won’t go outside, doesn’t want to play, etc.

Keyboardmama, thank you for all your suggestions. We will definitely try them and welcome more suggestions.

Whack-a-Mole, appreciate all the info on submissive urination. Oh, and thanks for the story! This reminds me of something Ed did a few weeks ago and I’ll try to beat him to it (although he could probably tell it better)! Sometimes we commute together and come home at the same time. One day I let Savanna outside but she was too excited to pee and wanted to come back inside. So, Ed then went outside with her, started petting her and chanted “pee for me doggie, pee for me!!” Of course she peed all over the place and we were laughing hysterically. I feel a little bit guilty right now, laughing at the expense of my dog’s submissive urination.

Oh, and…

I bet Savanna sees Iris as Mom (authority, but no threat), and the cat as a weird puppy (no authority).

I forgot to mention that another thing we did with Sophie was talk near her a lot, a sort of constant stream of friendly-sounding babble, like babytalk. That’s how Dad got her to quit peeing when he addressed her directly.

I guess I imagined Sophie’s brain as running a kind of middle-schooler-with-a-crush scenario. Remember back at thirteen, if you liked someone, you were sort of constantly watching to see if they were paying attention to you? Just knowing they were in the same room would be enough to raise your pulse—catching sight of them was a thrill—having them speak to you was almost unbearable. But if it turned out that they kind of liked you back, or at least thought you were OK, and weren’t getting ready to humiliate you in front of the entire human race and the whole eighth grade (as you had worried they might), you’d start to relax and remember how to speak in coherent sentences without blushing.

Just in Sophie’s case, instead of blushing, she’d pee.

Oh, and while you’re figuring this out, you and Iris might be less stressed about it if you a) find a passive way to prevent Savanna from getting on the couch, like piling pillows on it wherever you aren’t sitting, and b) buying a good, easy-to-use steam cleaner. If each puddle isn’t such a major cleaning task, you’ll be less upset about it, and Savanna will pick up on that.

You might find this site useful:

This place is great, I hope. So last night I went home, waited a few minutes, went upstairs, crouched down at the knees and opened the crate. She peed a little bit, I didn’t say anything to her and stayed down. She came over to me, put her head in my crotch and I pet her on the chin and the belly. She didn’t pee any more. I got her downstairs, she didn’t want to go out but we did go for a walk. She pooped but didn’t pee. When I got her home I thought she would but she didn’t.

After that she was a changed dog, she was actually playing with me without Iris being around. She’s never done that before. She was bringing me toys, running around and generally being a dog. I hope that she keeps it up and I can keep her from peeing in the house. I will have to watch out tonight as we put her back in the kitchen today so I will try and not bend over her.