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What is Submissive and Excitement Urination?

Behaviors like eliminating indoors can be perplexing and are definitely unwanted. There can be many reasons a dog eliminates indoors, and determining the cause of the conduct is essential in extinguishing the behavior. In many cases, particularly in young dogs, excitement and anxiety can be enough to trigger urination. Fearful and submissive dogs may continue the behavior into adulthood if their confidence can’t be boosted. It is particularly important to avoid scolding or threatening behaviors in response to these types of urination as they tend to reinforce the behavior rather than stifle it.

Although excitement and submissive urination often resolve on their own as your canine matures, it can continue to be a problem for fearful or unsocialized dogs.

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Symptoms of Submissive and Excitement Urination in Dogs

Excitement Urination

 Common Traits

  • Under a year old
  • Incompletely housetrained
  • Dogs with separation anxiety

Common Behaviors

  • Urinates during greetings
  • Dog appears unaware of urination
  • Urinates when excited

Submissive Urination

Common traits

  • Puppies and fearful or shy adults
  • Previously traumatized dogs
  • Previously abused dogs

Common behaviors

  • Urinates during greetings and scoldings
  • Urinates in response to loud noises or altercations
  • Urinates while making submissive gestures (crouching, tail tucking, exposing their belly)


There are many reasons that dogs might urinate in the house other than excitement and submission. These reasons can include:

  • Dietary causes - The presence of certain ingredients such as salt may cause your dog to need to urinate more frequently 
  • Fear related elimination - Fearful dogs or dogs subjected to intense fear situations may accidentally eliminate in the house; dogs with chronic fear issues can also develop problems associated with diarrhea
  • Medical disorders - Bladder infections, blood sugar imbalances, and even renal failure can lead to increased need to urinate or inability to control urination
  • Urine marking - This is a behavior issue that is usually exhibited by intact male dogs; it is a way to mark that the item or area that they have urinated on is part of their territory

Causes of Submissive and Excitement Urination in Dogs

Both submissive and excitement urination are more common in puppies than in adult dogs, and both are common during greetings, however the reasons are somewhat different. Excitement urination is caused by exciting stimuli like a high-energy greeting, hand clapping, or rough-housing. Submissive urination extends past puppyhood more often than excitement urination, and is caused when your dog feels threatened. This can either by a person or another animal, and can be triggered by fast movements, prolonged eye contact, or someone leaning over them. Punishment tends to worsen the situation as they try and appease you by urinating more.

Diagnosis of Submissive and Excitement Urination in Dogs

If your dog is urinating in the house, particularly in dogs that have successfully completing housetraining, it is important to have your dog checked by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may run blood and urine tests to help eliminate disease causes such as diabetes, liver failure, and imbalances in the blood chemistry and the physical examination will determine how well the urethral sphincter is functioning. Once any physical disorders or diseases are eliminated, then the body language that the dog exhibits is the most common method to diagnose a behavioral cause of indoor urination.

Dogs that are urinating as a way to show submission will often show additional submissive behavior. Your dog may show behaviors such as flattening his ears, cowering, or rolling on his back, either before or during urination. This particular behavior can have a genetic component and certain breeds, including Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds may experience it. Excitement urination generally occurs without any of the submission behaviors and often while standing, walking, or even playing as the canine may not be aware it is occurring.

Treatment of Submissive and Excitement Urination in Dogs

With urination that is caused by over-excitement, the canine often doesn’t realize they are going to the bathroom. This means that scolding or punishing your pet is not only ineffective, but if it frightens your dog, can actually encourage the excitement based urination to progress to submissive urination. Fortunately, the majority of excitement urination cases resolve on their own as the dog matures.

Eliminating triggers by greeting your dog calmly and avoiding high-pitched baby talk or staring contests will go a long way to exterminating the behavior. As the behavior is brought about by excitement, making sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise will help tire your dog out leaving them with less pent up energy, and may reduce incidents. Dogs that urinate due to submission will also benefit from these types of changes, but additional adjustments may be needed to help address the core issue. Avoiding behaviors that your dog views as dominance will help your pet to feel more confident. Treats and verbal praise are often more effective tools with the submissive dog than physical praise.

Recovery of Submissive and Excitement Urination in Dogs

The prognosis for dogs and puppies that urinate in the house due to over-excitement is usually quite good. This type of behavior often resolves with very little intervention by the time the dog reaches adulthood around two years of age. Dogs who urinate due to over-excitement generally do not realize that they are leaking, and scolding them or punishing them is ineffective. Urination due to submission also tends to resolve as the dog matures, but is more likely to linger than excitement urination. Dogs urinating submissively are aware that they are urinating, but scolding and punishment tends to reinforce the behavior rather than preventing it.