Why Does My Dog... Pee When Someone Is at the Door?

Dogs at the Door

Like Pavlov’s dogs, who salivated at the sound of a bell, some canines turn into a quivering fountain of pee when they hear the doorbell. Shoes covered with piddle may not be the welcome your guests are expecting, but there are a few steps you can take to eliminate the behavior.

Most dogs pee at the door out of submission or excitement. A young puppy, for example, may urinate at the door out of excitement because the muscle tone in her urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside) isn't fully developed. As her sphincter control improves, she may grow out of the behavior.

But dogs who continue this behavior into adulthood may need more help. Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to make sure there’s no underlying medical condition behind the problem. Make a list of the kind of scenarios that usually bring out the behavior to share with your vet.

Submissive Urination vs. Excitement Piddling

Submissive urination, which occurs more in females, is a dog’s way of waving the white flag — it’s a signal that she's surrendering her authority, that she’s not a threat. This behavior may be associated with experiences of inappropriate punishment or control at a younger age. When a person at the door gives the dog direct eye contact or leans over her, it may be perceived as threatening, so she responds by trying to appease that person.

Typically, the dog will partially or completely squat and then roll onto her side or back while urinating. The act has just the effect that she wants: The potentially threatening person usually steps away. She may also show other submissive behaviors, such as cowering, holding her ears back and avoiding direct eye contact.

An excited dog, on the other hand, usually doesn’t show submissive signs. That trail of pee is just her way of saying, “Oh, boy, someone to play with me! Maybe they have a treat! Maybe they’ll throw my ball! Maybe they’ll rub my belly!”


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