Dogs are fun to be around and especially when they have a daily routine, they can be extremely easy to care for. If your dog has a routine, at specific times during the day you will feed him, engage in some play and exercise and take him for a walk where along the way he will relieve his bladder and bowels. When it comes time to sleep, a trained dog knows to go to his bed to sleep. Pretty straightforward. But what if your dog is an exception to this rule? What if he pees in his bed or on the floor and more so, sits in his pee? This behavior can be baffling and concerning and rightly so because it is most often an indication that your dog is either physically or psychologically unhealthy, or, he lacks training. We expound on some of these concerns below, in addition to exploring ways to control and eliminate this behavior.
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The Root of the Behavior
Dogs in their natural wild state are not used to peeing or defecating where they sleep. Even for a domestic dog, it is quite rare to find a dog that urinates where he sleeps. If he can roam into the yard, he will defecate outside and then go back to his kennel or sleeping mat to sleep. But the habit can be created, depending on the environment and habits you expose your dog to. Leaving your dog crated for too long is one such habit and it can teach a dog to be comfortable sitting in his own pee. Even if you don’t keep your dog in a crate, his history could be a contributing factor. If your dog’s previous owners used to keep him in a crate or allowed him to pee indoors, this could explain why he is comfortable relieving themselves in the same place he sleeps or sits.
A dog that was previously a stray may also relieve himself and sit in his own pee. This is ironic because as a feral dog, he should be used to peeing outdoors since he has always had a lot of space to roam, sleep, and relieve himself. But adjusting to a new environment with close quarters, a grooming routine, other pets, and people can be overwhelming for any dog leading to episodes of peeing themselves, so to speak. This is stress urination and it happens not just to anxious dogs but also to dogs that are submissive, scared of their new environment or uncomfortable about meeting new people. Veterinarian and dog trainer Megan Ventura says that just like in humans, bladder control in dogs is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. A human child when scared or stressed can have the urge to urinate and may pee himself. The same thing happens to a scared dog, who might run into a corner he considers safe, pee, and then sit in his pee.
Further, an article shared by the Humane Society maintains that dogs can exhibit submissive urination because of fear. They will do this when they are being greeted, scolded, or when in the presence of dominant dogs. Their body language, such as tucking their tail, shaking, or averting their eyes is what indicates that the peeing is submissive and not just out of habit.
Encouraging the Behavior
This behavior is not to be encouraged as it is not healthy for you or your dog. Your dog sitting or sleeping in his pee for prolonged hours can cause infections on his skin as pee tends to burn. The crate should also be big enough to move around in, stand up, and stretch. Additionally, you should not leave a pee pad in a dog’s crate as dogs respond to cues and by leaving a pee pad in the crate, you are teaching him that it is okay to pee in there. If you leave your dog in a crate, he should be crate trained to not pee in it but to see it only as a place to pee in. Train your dog to go outside to urinate and defecate.
There are different forms of training that can help your dog to stop sitting in his pee. Your dog can undergo potty-training, though you should note that training a dog that has been used to sitting in his pee all his life will not be easy. Additionally, through positive reinforcement training, you can teach your dog to stop submission urination by rewarding confident postures such as sitting as opposed to submissive postures such as tail tucking.
In the same vein, how you behave around your dog can help to encourage or discourage peeing out of fear. When approaching your dog, do so when kneeling as approaching a scared dog while standing will be considered menacing. Even better, have him come to you as over time this will build his confidence and eliminate stress-related urination.
Other Solutions and Considerations
You should visit your dog’s vet especially if peeing behavior doesn’t stop even after training. Dogs suffer from urinary tract infections and it is possible your dog’s urination could be a result of sickness. When a dog suffers from a UTI, he will urinate frequently and because he has poor bladder control, he might pee where he sits. With appropriate treatment, this condition should subside and your dog will return to normal. Even in the absence of a UTI, medication may be helpful to help an extremely fearful dog to calm down and accept training. A dog’s behaviorist should diagnose the need for medication. Having urine scent around only encourages your dog to pee more so any time your dog pees, clean it up immediately and give him a bath to eliminate the scent.
Be patient with your dog. Having to clean up his pee from the floor more often than you want to or bathing him a few times a day is probably not what you had in mind when you decided to get a dog. But your dog needs you and unless you are patient with him throughout his training, he will never get better. Even when you are upset by his behavior, avoid scolding him especially when towering over him as if it is submission-related, scolding will only make things worse.