Dear Miss Behavior: My dog Pansy is a great dog, but she’s six months old and she’s not completely housebroken. She’ll hold it all night, and even all day, but when we get home in the evening she wets on my shoes. I can’t believe she’s so spiteful. Why can’t she just hold it a little longer?
Pansy isn’t peeing on your shoes on purpose. I encourage you to take her to the vet to make sure she doesn’t have a medical problem. At her age, more likely, the behavior is submissive urination. Most dogs outgrow it, but you can help her to overcome it sooner.
She’s trying to be a good dog and greet you appropriately, by dog standards. Excitement also adds to the situation. She’s a young dog and she’s been holding it for a while. When you return home, she gets excited. That means she lowers her body, tucks her tail, puts her ears back and licks you in greeting.
Urinating helps her to show how submissive she is. So your job is to make leaving and arriving as low key as possible. When you get home, don’t immediately go and greet her. If she’s in a crate, put your stuff down and let her calm down for a minute or so. Then let her out of the crate and without speaking to her, take her outside. If instead she’s loose in the house, walk right by her, and don’t speak to her until she’s been outside. Avoid bending over her and petting her on top of the head. All of these behaviors increase the likelihood of her feeling the need to show submission. When she’s older, the behavior will most likely stop.
Thanks to this feature goes to Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, who ran the Miss Behavior Dog Advice Column in their newsletter. Appreciation also is extended to Marcy Graybill, a trainer at GLOC and the expert behind this column. She also hosts her own blog, Dog Log, where she talks about training adventures with her dogs.
If you have a question for Miss Behavior, please post in the comments below and we’ll feature it in a future column.