How to Stop Dog Submissive Urination and Excited Peeing

headshot of a light brown senior dog smiling

When dogs pee at inappropriate times, it is sometimes known as submissive urination or excited peeing. For instance, they might urinate when someone greets them or simply when they get really excited. It can be a few drops to a full bladder expression. Dogs can submissive urinate or excited pee in any body position. In fact, you might not even notice that the dog urinated until you see the pee on the floor.

Excited peeing is a fairly common puppy behavior. However, if you have an adult dog who suddenly starts urinating inappropriately (or has any other type of urinary incontinence), you should see your veterinarian because there could be a medical cause.

It's important to note that advances in behavior science have led to the debunking of using “submissive” and “dominant” to describe a dog’s personality or emotional state. But the terms “submissive urination” and “submissive peeing” are still widely used to refer to this behavior. You also might see it called “appeasement urination.”

What causes submissive peeing in dogs?

Some dogs will urinate when they feel anxious or threatened. In cases like this, avoid using postures or gestures that the dog might view as threatening, such as:

  • Making direct eye contact with the dog
  • Bending over the dog
  • Reaching toward the dog with your hands, especially over the dog’s head
  • Hugging the dog
  • Approaching the dog head-on

A less-threatening greeting would be as follows:

  1. When approaching the dog, look off to the side rather than directly at them.
  2. Bend down on your haunches or sit so that you appear smaller to the dog.
  3. Wait quietly, without moving, for the dog to approach you and smell you.
  4. If the dog approaches you, reach slowly with one hand to pet them under the chin.
  5. If the dog doesn’t approach, offer a small treat.

Keep in mind that punishment of any kind, including harsh tones, can cause inappropriate urination. Try to engage in quiet, nonthreatening forms of play, and reward the dog when playtime doesn’t end in urination.

How do you stop a dog from peeing when excited?

To minimize the possibility of excited peeing in dogs, try to remain calm in situations where this typically happens.  

When you arrive home and greet your dog, they will already be very excited to see you. The best strategy is just to ignore the dog at first. Act calmly, don’t talk or move in an excited manner, don’t pet the dog, and if necessary don’t make eye contact.  

Instead, take your dog outside, let them urinate, and after the dog has calmed down greet them affectionately but calmly. Likewise, when you have visitors, ask them to ignore the dog when they arrive.

Cleaning up accidents

If an accident does happen, don’t make a big deal and don’t ever punish or raise your voice at a dog for urinating in the house. Simply take them outside to use the bathroom and praise them once they do.

When cleaning up the urine be sure to use an enzymatic cleaner (such as Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution), which neutralizes the odor. This will help with them not urinating in that spot again.

Consulting a dog behavior professional

Management of submissive urination and excited peeing in dogs requires patience and time. If the inappropriate urination continues, consider seeking help from a qualified behavior professional. Inappropriate urination can also be a result of fear, separation anxiety, incomplete house-training, or an unneutered male dog’s natural tendency to mark his territory.