Training Dogs And Humans For A More Enjoyable Life Together

By Susan Smith, East Valley Dog Training

Answers to questions are based on the information provided. It’s always a good idea to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian when having behavior problems. Although I can give general information and management suggestions on serious behavior problems such as aggression, issues such as these can be a very serious problem and a certified dog trainer should be consulted. 

I have a pointer mix, 7 months old. She still pees when she’s scared, or happy and anytime she sees a leash. If I try to put the leash or harness on her she throws herself on the ground and refuses to move. My question is, how do I train her to stop peeing all the time and how do I train her to go on a walk? Lindsay

There are two issues here

The first sounds like submissive urination, and the second is her fear of the leash and harness. I’m going to address the submissive urination this week, and will talk about the leash issues in next week’s column. 

Submissive urination is not uncommon, especially with younger dogs (under three years). Most dogs will grow out of this, but meanwhile, you can learn how to manage it. The first, and most important, thing to understand is that this is not elimination, but is a form of canine body language. As dog owners we have as much responsibility and motivation to understand what dogs are telling us, as they do to understand what we are telling them.

When dogs submissively urinate, they are telling you that they are under stress and do not want conflict. Therefore, getting upset will only make it worse. When you get upset, the dog will submissively urinate more – this is her way of communicating with you. 

I’m just going to give a list of various things you can do to ease the stress level, and hopefully you can take these suggestions and apply them to your situation.

Easing Stress Levels:

  • Don’t get angry or upset
  • Always use your happy voice – even when frustrated
  • Don’t loom over the dog
  • Don’t give direct eye contact
  • Don’t reach over the dog’s back or head, if possible
  • Approach from an oblique angle, or with your side to the dog instead of your front, when possible
  • Ignore the dog when first arriving home or at other times when the dog is excited
  • If possible, when first arriving home, greet the dog outside, so the submissive urinating happens outdoors instead of in the house

Basically, don’t appear threatening to your dog, and you should see a decrease in the submissive urination. And, as she matures, she should be better about this, as well. Also, remember that seven months is still pretty young – she’s just finding her way in the world; it sounds like she wants to please you, but isn’t quite sure how.

If you have questions for the trainer, please send them to:

Susan Smith, CDBC, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer in San Tan Valley, AZ, specializing in pet dog training as well as cat and parrot training—from obedience behaviors to serious problems such as aggression. She can be contacted at:

Sue is also the owner of Raising Canine, LLC which provides professional education to animal trainers. dog and cat never become friends.