Uncontrolled Urination

Assuming your dog is house trained, uncontrolled urination can be caused by physical or medical problems, excessive submission or excitement.  If you find small or in some cases larger amounts of urine in your dog’s bed or crate on a regular basis, these are very likely signs of urinary tract infection or possibly loss of urinary tract muscle control.  Both conditions are treatable with medication.  The urinary tract infection should not be allowed to linger, since it degrades the overall physical condition of the animal and unnecessarily burdens its internal organs.  The loss of muscle control usually occurs in older female dogs.  If left unchecked, the dog can suffer from urine scalds and an overall unclean condition which probably will result in urine odors and stains in your home.  There is no reason not to treat the condition, since you and your faithful companion will be more comfortable.

Submissive urination usually occurs when the dog is greeted, approached or reprimanded.  Another dog or other form of intimidation such as thunder or lightening may also induce it.  The amount of urine released may be anywhere from a very small amount to a large puddle.  Actions of the dog often associated with submissive urination include ducking of the head, laying its ears back, grinning, avoiding eye contact, rolling on its back and/or a fast and low tail wag.

Excitement urination is similar to submissive urination since, obviously, the dog urinates uncontrollably.  However, it usually occurs when the pet is highly excited such as when it is being greeted.  Signs of excitement include wiggling, jumping up, a high tail wag, ears up and barking.

Submissive/excitement urination can be overcome by various adjustments by the owner to its interaction with the pet; however, I recommend that if your dog suffers from uncontrolled urination, you first have your veterinarian perform a thorough physical examination including a urinalysis.  If the dog is physically healthy, then I suggest that you the owner make the following changes.  As often as possible, greet the dog outdoors when you arrive home.  If this is not possible, ignore the dog until you let it outside, and then greet the pet.

When you do greet the pet, whether indoors or out, be slow and calm with your actions and voice.  Speak softly to your pet.  Also, kneel sideways to the pet and do not bend over the animal.  Avoid direct eye contact, do not pat the dog on the head or back of the neck, rather, scratch it under the chin.  It is also a good idea to let the dog approach the owner, as contrasted with the owner coming to the animal.

In addition to the psychological changes the owner can make, it is often helpful to the pet if it is given frequent opportunities to urinate outside so that its bladder is generally empty or at least not full.  A full bladder is more difficult for the dog to control.

When accidents occur, do not react verbally or physically towards the animal.  This will only reinforce the problem.  Let the dog outside to potentially finish urinating.  The dog cannot control its response.

While you are in the process of changing the dog’s behavior, be sure that other family members follow these same procedures.  Keep the dog crated or outside when guests come to visit, since they will probably not know about your training, and even if they do, are likely to trigger the problem.

All of the above conditions are correctable either medically or through behavior modification.  Be patient and kind to your dog as both of you work through this problem.