An enthusiastic greeting after hours away from home is one of the reasons you love your dog, but pee puddles on your new carpet put a damper on your day—literally. Peeing when excited is a common problem for puppies, and even older dogs sometimes lose control of their bladders. Mopping up pee puddles from an otherwise housebroken dog is a chore no one wants, but for some pups, excitement urination is a daily struggle. It most often happens with dogs one year old and younger, and they eventually outgrow the behavior. But if your adult dog is having trouble holding their pee, or you and your floor can’t afford to wait until puppy grows up, try these tips to get the problem under control.
#1 – Understand the Problem
Puppies and dogs that struggle with excitement urination aren’t doing it because they think it’s fun. In most cases, they don’t even realize it’s happening until they step in the puddle. Their bubbling excitement becomes so overwhelming they subconsciously forget to control the muscles in their bladder. Your instinct after you realize your dog once again peed inside the house is usually to yell and scold, but punishing them for an involuntary behavior won’t help the situation. Petcha says,
“It happens because overexcitement or fear may cause the pup to momentarily lose control of the muscles that close the urinary bladder, which allows a small amount of urine to escape. This is a physiological response to excitement and is not under the pup’s control.”
Helping your dog overcome the issue is about changing both their behavior and yours.
#2 – Reduce Excitement at Home
While your pup builds up the muscle and maturity to stop surprise accidents, the best thing you can do is lower the overall excitement level in the house. When the family’s ready to run and play, move the games outside where a Code Yellow won’t require a mop or carpet cleaner. Avoiding the situation is a lot easier than letting it happen and cleaning up the consequences. If things start to get out of control inside, make a conscious effort to not include the dog in the festivities and gradually calm down.
#3 – Strategically Timed Potty Breaks
Your pup can’t pee accidentally if there’s nothing in the tank. If you already know your dog tends to pee out of excitement every time a guest comes over, time their bathroom break for right before the guests are due to arrive.
It’s important to keep the routine as normal as possible. Dogs are more perceptive than people think, and you need to hide the fact something exciting is about to happen. If they can tell by your tone or body language that something isn’t exactly normal, they might cut off their pee before letting it all out or not go to the bathroom at all. They need to think it’s just another boring bathroom break. The goal is that their recently emptied bladder won’t have anything left to give when the guests arrive and excitement takes over.
#4 – Encourage Calm Behavior
Learning to calm down in exciting situations takes as much practice as “sit” and “stay.” You can train your dog to control their emotions and behaviors by reinforcing what you want them to do in specific situations. If you don’t want them to jump all over you and pee on the floor as soon as you come home from work, for example, teach them an alternative behavior.
The first step in this process is changing your own behavior. Instead of eagerly doling out pets and talking in a high-pitched voice when you come home, walk through the door and ignore the dog. It seems mean, but once the dog is sitting and calm, you can go over and say hello. Dr. Sophia Yin cautions,
“If Piddles the pup lets loose at this stage, the petting session started too soon, was too exuberant, or lasted too long. Petters should gauge his behavior. If Piddles starts to wiggle and squirm in excitement they should quickly remove their attention and treat him as if he doesn’t exist. Then as soon as he’s still, they can reward him with petting.”
#5 – Talk to Your Vet
In most cases of excitement urination, puppies grow out of the behavior and repeated encounters teach older dogs better control. If the situation doesn’t get better, however, there’s a chance it could be a medical problem. Petcha reports frequent urinary tract infections can cause delayed bladder control. If that’s the case, you’ll need to talk to your vet about treatment.
Besides medical problems, continued excitement urination could also be purely behavioral. Punishing a puppy early on can sometimes cause emotional trauma. While the owner’s intent was to teach the dog a lesson, all they really did was scare them into having a permanent problem. A veterinarian will be able to rule out medical problems and point you in the right direction for behavioral support.