Submissive and Excitement Peeing in Dogs + How to Stop It

In a pack, dogs have many ways to show the leader that they accept his role as top dog and thus avoid a confrontation. You have probably seen that some dogs roll on their backs and urinate on themselves; this is known as submissive peeing (urination).

In order to understand submissive urination, we must understand the language of dominance and submissiveness. Most puppies learn submissive urination from their mothers, as well as other behaviors associated with submission such as averting eyes and rolling on their backs. Dogs show these behaviors when they feel intimidated in order to let the human know that they understand who is the pack leader.

submissive urination in dogs

To deal with this problem, the first thing that you must do is having your veterinarian examine your dog for possible physical abnormalities pertaining to this problem. Sickness and disease can cause difficulty for your pet to control their bladders. If physical problems prove to be the cause, discuss options specific to your dog’s situation with your veterinarian as to your possible options (e.g. surgery, medications, coping mechanisms).

If your dog is found to be healthy and is diagnosed with a behavioral problem, begin by observing what types of situations make your dog feel excited or threatened. Knowing these, you can design your plan of action to suit the needs of your dog.

Dogs usually show submissive urination in the following situations:

  • When he is being scolded
  • When a person approaches him
  • When he’s being greeted
  • When there is a disturbance such as a loud argument or sirens blaring
  • While making submissive postures, such as crouching, tail tucking, or rolling over and exposing his belly


excited puppy

A similar behavior is excitement peeing (urination), which as its name implies, occurs when a dog is experiences excitement. Puppies commonly experience excitement urination because they are still unable to control when/where they urinate. Must puppies outgrow excitement urination. Excitement urination is not common in adult dogs.

If your dog urinates when he/she is playing or being greeted but does not exhibit submissive postures, he/she is probably exhibiting excitement urination.

Dogs usually show excitement urination in the following situations:

  • When he is greeted
  • When he is playing
  • When they are excited and are less than 1-year-old

Tips For Dealing With Excitement Urination in Dogs

  • Praise your puppy when he urinates in the correct place (outside, on a puppy pad, etc).
  • When there is an accident, clean the area as soon as you can and leave your puppy alone. Do not punish your puppy.
  • If accidents tend to occur when you arrive home, try to keep greetings short and wait until your puppy calms down to play with him. Ask family and friends to do the same.
  • Be patient! Remember that most puppies will learn to control their bladder as they grow and the problem is likely to resolve spontaneously.

German Shepherd

Tips For Dealing With Submissive Urination in Dogs

I know this is a long list…but try to go through each one to find your solution.

  • Ask friends and family members to practice no touch, no talk and no eye contact around him.
  • Avoid situations and people that you cannot control until your dog is learning to control himself and gain confidence.
  • Basic obedience training can be helpful because it will teach your dog clear rules. Try to focus on building confidence in your dog.
  • Familiarize him with noises, people, and other dogs gradually. Do not rush him into situations and experiences.
  • Take him for walks where he can gradually be exposed to the situations that trigger his urination.
  • Use a calm and slow body language when you are around your dog.
  • Try to keep your verbal volume low.
  • Consider giving him a command to urinate and praise him calmly using voice only when he does.
  • Take him out regularly to pee, that way his bladder will not build up pressure.
  • When out in the yard, do not call him up to you but walk slowly around with him.

If you use the crate…

  • Do not go straight to his crate when entering a room. Allow him to calm down and then let him go out.
  • When you go to the crate to let him out do so quietly. Do not talk in the process.
  • Let your dog inside his crate while you are unable of supervising him. Put the crate near a door allowing him to get outside quickly, to avoid potential accidents.

If he urinates…

  • Do not say anything; get him outside then clean up without him seeing you do this.
  • Try to ignore your dog’s behavior. Do not attempt to reassure your dog or reinforce his actions. Stay quiet but relaxed.
  • Be non-threatening. Do not stare at him or show displeasure no matter how you feel.

Good luck! I’d love to hear how you handle submissive urination and/or excitement peeing with your dog. Have you had any success? What tips would you give?


The Humane Society of The United States. Submissive Urination: Why Your Dog Does It and How to Help Him Stop. Retrieved on April 9, 2016 from:

Coren, S. and Sarah, S. (2007). Understanding Your Dog For Dummies. Chapter 15: Understanding and Resolving Aggressive Behavior. Wiley Publishing Inc., New Jersey, USA.

Stookey, J., Watts, J. and Haley, D. Submissive Urination In Dogs. Applied Ethology. Retrieved on April 9, 2016 from:

Deely, M.  15 tips to overcome submissive urination. Retrieved on April 9, 2016 from:

Stookey, J., Watts, J. and Haley, D. Submissive Urination In Dogs. Applied Ethology. Retrieved on April 9, 2016 from:

Additional Resources:

  1. How to Care for a Dog – 13 Dog Care Basics Every Pet Parent Should Know

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