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There is nothing better than going to scoop up your new puppy or small adult rescue dog for the first time. After all, snuggling our dogs is a favorite activity for most dog owners. However, most people are not expecting their dog to pee when they pick them up, and it can be a pretty troublesome habit in dogs that do this all of the time.
If this has happened to you, you are not alone. In fact, many dog owners are affected by this issue. So, why do some dogs pee when you pick them up?
Most of the time dogs will pee when picked up because they are either very afraid or very excited at that moment. For shy or fearful dogs, it is likely that they are doing something called submissive urination. This is an instinctual response in dogs that occurs when they are feeling intimidated.
Of course, submissive urination is not the only thing that could cause a dog to pee when you pick them up. Here we will be getting into all of the possible reasons why dogs do this and what you can do to stop it.
Reason 1: Your Dog is Being Submissive
One of the most common causes for dogs peeing when you pick them up is, unfortunately, fear. Even though dog owners do not mean to appear frightening to their dogs when they approach them, people can sometimes appear to dogs that way by mistake. This is especially true if the dog is very small or you have a very shy puppy on your hands.
Submissive urination is more common than many people think it is, and it tends to be most common in small dogs and puppies with an overly anxious temperament. Most of the time your dog or young puppy will engage in submissive urination when they’re still getting used to their new owners. This can happen even if they’re on a well-structured crate or potty training schedule.
You can tell if a dog is submissive peeing by taking a look at some body language and behavior that occurs just before the accident. Some body language to look out for in a fearful dog is lip licking, crouching low to the ground, having their ears pinned back, and having their tail tucked in between their legs. Many submissive dogs will also show something called whale eye when they are feeling scared. Whale eye is when the whites of a dog’s eyes are showing.
The good news is that this behavior will usually subside once the dog feels more safe and comfortable around their new owners. Learning how your dog likes to be picked up will also do wonders when trying to stop them from peeing.
Reason 2: Your Dog is Very Excited
On the other hand, some dogs will become very excited when being picked up and when interacting with others. While this kind of behavior tends to be less concerning to dog owners than submissive behaviors are, constantly cleaning up accidents quickly gets old.
An overly excited dog may whine or bark excitedly when being greeted. Additionally, excitable dogs may also have the tendency to jump on people during interactions. An excitable dog will always appear to be happy, and not frightened, during these kinds of interactions.
Peeing from overexcitement can occur in dogs of all ages. However, it tends to be most common in puppies and young dogs. Stopping peeing from overexcitement mostly consists of making interactions with your dog a calmer and less exciting experience.
Reason 3: Your Dog is Experiencing Bladder Incontinence or Another Medical Issue
In some more rare cases, a dog could pee whenever you pick them up simply because they have a medical issue. Medical problems like bladder incontinence, urinary tract infections, and bladder infections could cause a dog to have accidents or dribble urine seemingly at random. Dogs are typically quite good at holding their urine, even for long periods of time, so if this changes there’s often a medial issue at play.
When a dog is having accidents as a result of a medical issue, they will not usually exhibit any excitable or submissive behavior beforehand. Similarly, most dogs that have a problem with urinating more often than usual will usually have accidents that are uncharacteristic. That means that they are suddenly having accidents when they never used to before.
How Can You Help Your Dog Work Through Their Fears and Stop the Peeing?
Helping your dog work through their fears and submissive behaviors can seem to be a daunting task to many dog owners out there. However, it is comforting to know that this task is far from impossible. Here is a step by step guide to help you get your dog through this fearful period.
Step 1: Clean up Your Dog’s Accident
The first step that should be done after your dog pees is to clean up their mess. This may seem obvious, but it is extremely important. This is because many dogs will mark over areas where they have peed previously because they can still smell the odor. Using a stain and odor removal spray that is made for cleaning up pet accidents will do wonders when it comes to avoiding accidents in the future. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to use an enzymatic cleaner any time there’s a mess whether it’s on the floor or on your shoe.
Step 2: Alter Your Approach When Picking Your Dog Up
Most of the time submissive dogs are peeing when picked up simply because the action is a little bit scary for them. As a result, altering your approach when you go to pick them up can really help. For example, approaching dogs from the side rather than towering over them can make dogs feel less threatened when you pick them up.
Additionally, speaking to your dog with a low and soothing voice can put them more at ease. It is also a good idea to do things like avoiding direct eye contact when picking them up as well. Over time doing this will communicate to your dog that you mean them no harm, especially once they start to become more comfortable around you. The key here is to make your dog feel more comfortable because comfortable dogs are less likely to pee when you pick them up.
Step 3: Make Your Dog Feel More Comfortable When New People are Around
Many shy and submissive dogs are a bit fearful around strangers. As a result, it is a good idea to advocate for them and avoid having others pick them up or pet them. Similarly, having a safe space for your dog to retreat to, such as a crate or another room, can make your dog feel more comfortable when you have guests over. Doing these things will make your dog more comfortable around new people, and it will also make them less likely to have an accident.
Step 4: Slowly Make Your Dog Feel More Confident Around New People Through Positive Reinforcement Training
Once your dog has become more comfortable around you and is getting a bit more used to new people coming around, you can start working on improving their confidence. You can do this simply by giving your dog treats, long-lasting chews or kongs, and their favorite toys when people are over.
Over time you can even have your guests give these rewards to your dog. When you pair interactions with people and your dog’s favorite things, your dog will start making the connection that new people does not necessarily equal a bad thing. In fact, it will likely start to be a fun and positive experience for your dog.
What Not To Do When Around a Submissive Dog
We have already explained how you can improve a dog’s submissive behavior. However, it is also important to know what kinds of things could potentially make a dog’s fear worse. This way you know what kinds of actions to avoid when interacting with a submissive dog.
The main mistake that most people make when interacting with fearful dogs is bending over them and petting them. Although we mean well when we do this, the act of petting can be pretty frightening for very shy dogs. This is especially true when strangers do this and when the interaction involves the person bending over them. If you have a shy dog that pees when feeling threatened, then this is almost certain to cause an accident.
Similarly, it is never a good idea to punish a submissive dog who has had an accident. Even though a dog having frequent accidents can be very frustrating, punishing a dog for accidents is not known to be very effective. This is especially true with submissive dogs, as scolding and punishment are likely to make their fear worse.
How to Stop Your Dog From Peeing Out of Excitement
The process for stopping your dog from peeing after picking them up due to overexcitement is a bit different than for stopping submissive urination. Here is how you can stop your dog from peeing because of overexcitement.
Step 1: Clean up Your Dog’s Pee
Once again, it is a good idea to clean up your dog’s pee with a pet stain and odor remover before doing anything else. This is because dogs tend to pee over their previous accidents when they have not been cleaned up with a cleaner that thoroughly gets rid of the scent of the pee.
Step 2: Figure Out What Things Make Your Dog Overexcited
The next step in this process is figuring out what things make your dog overexcited and have accidents. In addition to being picked up, many dogs will become very excited when greeting people and other animals, playing, and seeing treats. Once you have figured out what things make your dog very excited, you can start working on step three.
Step 3: Make Your Interactions Calmer and Less Exciting When Possible
The final step in this process is to work on making the interactions that make your dog excited more calm. You can do this by making yourself seem less excited by approaching your dog with a calm voice. Similarly, doing things like gently petting your dog before picking them up can help calm them down and make them less likely to pee. When an excitable dog is calm, then their chance of having an accident is greatly reduced.
That’s it! Everything that you need to know about why some dogs will pee when you pick them up.
Most of the time dogs will pee when they are picked up simply because they are either frightened or excited by it and it can explain why some dogs always seem to have a slight pee smell to them. Taking the necessary steps to calm your dog down when picking them up will make them much less likely to have an accident when overexcitement or submissive behavior is the cause.