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what is going on? - submissive/excited urination?

July 17th, 2006, 11:05 AM
I hope I'm posting this in the right spot. I have an 11 month old female mutt. I know she has lab/poodle/border collie and there are a few more in there that we haven't figured out yet. She has completed puppy training and her first course of obedience and is really very well behaved although still a puppy with puppy energy. I had thought we were dealing with submissive/excited urination but now I'm not sure. She does pee when we have visitors - sometimes. So I ask them to ignore her until I can see she has settled down (sometimes after 15 minutes or so and I see she's not settling I'll put her in her kennel for a period of time until she calms down). Sometimes this works. And sometimes she moves a few feet away from the visitor and pees anyway. Sometimes she pees when we first get home so we wait to greet her until we've come in and gotten settled ourselves. By then she is settled and we can greet her without the fear of pee. But sometimes she runs to the top of the stairs and pees even if we don't acknowledge her. And sometimes if we see she is going to pee for us we say 'no pee' fairly firmly and she stops. She also pees for the vet and groomer and trainer, pretty much no matter what they do. So what do you think? Do we have a submissive urination problem or a behaviour problem? Any ideas what we should do about either? I'm really coming to my wits end.

July 17th, 2006, 01:28 PM
It does sound a little like submissive urination, but also like you're not helping her learn proper bladder control. When you come home, why are you *not* acknowledging her? Is she kenneled/confined or does she have free run of the house while you are away? Other than running to the top of the stairs or peeing, what other behaviour does she do when you come home?

What you have taught her is that you will ignore her unless she pees. That is why she is running to the top of the stairs, where she has obviously learned that this gets your attention. When you get home, the first thing you should do is put her outside. Teach her a potty word if you haven't already. Praise lavishly when she pees outside and then spend a few minutes playing with her.

Has she been checked for a bladder or kidney infection?

Please repost to answer the other questions.

July 17th, 2006, 05:42 PM
Hi Melissa,
Yes, if we are out and she is in the house she is kenneled. We usually come in and put our stuff away, then come into the kitchen (where she is kenneled) and quietly say 'hi'. Then I open the kennel door (she won't come out until I tell her to) and when I'm sure she is calm I let her come out and sit for a good pat and cuddle. Then I let her outside to potty. Usually she just calmly waits in her kennel - with a wildly wagging tail. She really never pees when this is the case. The peeing at the top of the stairs happens when she is home with someone in the family and so has the run of the living areas in the house. When we come in she just runs to the top of the stairs and pees. No hello no nothing. We have tried calling ahead and having her put outside before we get home and greeting her in the backyard. She is happy and pees everywhere when we do this but it doesn't really matter because it's outside. Unfortunately after all this is done and we let her in, she runs to the top of the stairs and pees. We have tried leaving her out for a time after we arive home with the same results. I'm thinking this is a behaviour issue and don't know how to stop it. We tried just ignoring it and it hasn't helped over the last 8 months so lately have been saying 'no pee'. She stops immediately so there's less to clean up but next time just does it again.

July 17th, 2006, 06:04 PM
Can you just block off the stairs with a baby gate?

Sometimes prevention is the easiest way out...

July 17th, 2006, 06:26 PM
Unfortunately, we're in a bilevel so the top of the stairs is on our main level and the bottom of the stairs is the entry. We restrict her access to the house by keeping doors closed to the basement, bathroom and bedrooms. The top of the stairs is in her allowed area and our house is open concept so there are no rooms in this area to restrict her from the stairs. It was a really good thought, though.

July 18th, 2006, 01:52 PM
If you haven't already done so, please take her to obedience classes. As silly as it sounds, basic training can help to teach her confidence, will help her learn the rules, and gives her something else to think about when you challenge her mentally.
Also, make sure that you're cleaning up the pee-spot with an enzymatic cleaner, and not bleach or ammonia. If you can get rid of the smell, perhaps she won't go back to the same area.

What is her emotional state when she's peeing in the house? Does she seem to be excited, aggressive (like she's marking territory), sad, scared...? I know a lot of experts say that dogs don't have these feelings, but if you can try to figure out what she's trying to tell you by peeing in the house, maybe you can figure out how to fix her problem.

Do some research on separation anxiety. One of your other posts suggested that you are home most of the day, and so these problems must only be happening when you leave & then return, and could be a symptom of SA. There are herbal mixtures which can reduce this, but most of it is controlled by modifiying behaviour and desensitization. It's often a very long process and sometimes there is no solution and you just have to do everything in your power to put up with it. If you can afford it, a good behaviourist might be able to help.

Perhaps the simple solution is to take her for a walk as soon as you get home, so that her bladder is empty before she's allowed run of the house? Whether you call ahead or not, the second you see her if her leash goes on and you go for a walk, it doesn't give her the opportunity to pee in the house.

I'm not sure if any of this is helping... I'm just throwing out everything I can think of. I have a cat who pees outside her litter box sometimes and I've never really been able to figure out why or how to solve it. I have only been able to manage it best I can, by changing a lot of things to see what works for her. What we've got going right now works most of the time, but we still have occassional messes. Sometimes that's the price we pay for having pets.

Good luck.

July 18th, 2006, 02:34 PM
I'd desensitize her to it. Leave, come back in, correct the peeing, leave, come back in, correct the peeing... do it over and over and over. Every time she does NOT pee, REWARD HER! if she pees, correct her. try again. Granted you are going to have one large pee spot this way, so prepare for it. use pee pads/old towel/newspaper, etc... on the spots she frequently has accidents (top of stairs). Desensitize her, then ditch the pee pads/towels/papers & do a thorough cleaning w/ a product designed for pet-urine.

I would practice this as much as possible, but remember, in training it always best to end on success. come & go for 10 minutes in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening.

ETA: When practicing, have one person stay w/ the dog (on leash) and the other person come in the house. This way the one holding the leash can correct the dog immediately when she starts to pee, and reward when she doesn't.

July 18th, 2006, 03:15 PM
Melissa and Jessi
Thanks for the ideas. I'm definitely going to give desensitization a try. It's not always practicle for me to walk her right as soon as I get home but I'll try it when I can. I hadn't thought of SA but that may be just exactly what we're dealing with. Melissa, She has been through two levels of obedience already (if you consider puppy class a level) and will be doing more in the fall. It's something I really believe in, especially with bigger dogs. Again, thanks for the great ideas. Sometimes all it really takes is a little brainstorming with like minded people to solve a problem.

July 19th, 2006, 03:52 PM
Keep us updated!!

And please do read up on SA if you haven't yet. The signs can often be mistaken for an "overly happy dog", but if you're looking, you'll know that they aren't just that, as there's always signs when you start getting ready to leave, too. If you even suspect SA, it can't hurt to treat it as if it is. If it's not, you're not going to hurt the dog by changing your behaviour and hers. :)

Good luck!!