For a few months, my dog and I had a ritual. I would come home from work, and the pup would get very excited. Inevitably, she would leave behind a puddle, often right at my feet.
I didn’t want to clean up pee indefinitely, so this left us with two questions. Why did she pee at my feet when greeting me, and how could we stop it?
Why does my dog pee at my feet?
If your dog frequently pees at your feet, you are probably wondering why. There are several possible reasons for this unamusing behavior. It’s important to not get upset with your pooch when this occurs, because, in most cases, they truly can’t help it.
If you have a young pooch or an older dog, age is likely one of the reasons you get pee puddles at your feet. Puppies have developing bladders, just as young children do.
It’s expected for toddlers to have accidents, and you can expect the same thing from your puppy. Even if they are house trained, they can lose control of their bladder more easily than mature dogs.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have senior dogs. Senior dogs also have trouble controlling their bladder, especially if they are female. Female senior dogs can suffer from sphincter mechanism incontinence, which means they don’t have proper control over the neck of their bladder. This is responsible for 80% of incontinence in senior pooches.
Senior dog incontinence is an ongoing issue, and not likely to occur only when they are standing at your feet. Other symptoms of senior incontinence include damp legs and a frequent smell of urine. You may also notice scalding or rash around the genital area, because the area is in frequent contact with urine, similar to a diaper rash on a baby.
Anxiety, Fear, or Chronic Stress
You’ve probably uttered the phrase, “I was so scared I almost peed myself” at least once in your life. You may have even experienced the unpleasant issue first hand.
Many animals, including dogs, will pee when they are scared. This occurs because the limbic system overwhelms the brain, causing electrical signals that tell the body to pee.
When a dog pees out of fear, it’s an intense fear that comes quickly. This is unlikely to happen at your feet. However, stress or anxiety can also cause your dog to pee.
Chronic stress or anxiety can also cause your dog to pee at your feet. When the body is very anxious or under chronic stress, the muscles are very tense. This puts pressure on the bladder, making urination more likely.
Submissive urination is another possibility. If your dog is naturally timid or exhibits other submissive behaviors, this is the likely culprit. When you pet your dog, you are in a dominant position. In their eyes, you are towering over them. It’s easy to see how this situation could prompt submissive urination.
This is different from fear based peeing. Instead of indicating that they are scared of you, they are acknowledging that you are the head of the pack.
Other signs of submission include rolling onto their back so their belly is exposed, flattening their ears, lowering their head, and lack of eye contact.
Many owners believe that spaying or neutering their dog can put a stop to submissive urination. However, recent research suggests that the opposite is true, particularly for male dogs. Testosterone increases a dog’s confidence. When they are neutered, their testosterone levels drop. This can them to exhibit more fear or anxiety related behavioral issues, including submissive urination.
Your dog may be peeing at your feet as a way of marking their territory. Dogs use marking as a way to claim that something belongs to them. The urine has their scent, which is a signal to other dogs. It’s essentially their way of writing their name on what they consider theirs.
You probably don’t think of yourself as your dog’s possession, but it doesn’t mean they don’t see it that way. Dogs don’t only mark their physical territory, They also mark whatever they believe belongs to them. Since you are their human, it’s easy to see why they may feel the need to mark you.
Illnesses can also cause your dog to pee at your feet. If this is the case, you’ll notice that they have accidents at other times as well.
Urinary infections are the most common cause of urination problems in dogs. This can cause frequent peeing, peeing small amounts, whining when peeing, and bloody or cloudy urine.
Other potential causes include prostate problems, kidney stones, and hormonal imbalances.
Your dog may be peeing at your feet in an attempt to get your attention. If your dog is clingy or frequently seeks attention, this may be why they are peeing on you.
You train your dog to do things, some of which you are completely unaware of. Dogs learn based on positive and negative reinforcement. They quickly learn the actions that bring them favorable results.
If they follow a command, for example, they get a treat. They will associate the command with the treat, and happily perform the command.
If you give them positive attention when they pee at your feet, this can encourage them to continue to do so. You are unknowingly reinforcing the behavior. This may include laughing, petting, or talking to them. If your dog enjoys the reaction, they will continue to pee.
Types of Peeing
One of the keys to knowing why your dog is peeing at your feet is knowing which type of peeing they are doing. When a dog relieves its bladder or has a bladder control issue, you can expect them to empty their bladder. There’s a large volume of urine.
When they are urinating from other causes, including submissive or excitement peeing and marking, they will pee a smaller amount of urine. When they pee, they hold back a small amount of urine. This is then used for marking and submissive peeing.
If your dog is filling your shoes with puddles, you can assume the issue is bladder control. If they only release a small amount of urine, it is likely caused by another reason.
Why does my dog pee when I pet him?
The reasons mentioned above are all potential reasons why your dog pees when you pet them. However, there is one more possibility.
Excitement urination occurs when your dog gets excited. Petting them or playing with them can cause them to pee. As with submissive or marking, your dog will not empty their bladder when excitement peeing. Instead, you’ll notice a small amount of pee.
It’s most common in puppies under 1 year of age. However, your dog’s personality also plays a role. Dogs that are easily excitable are more likely to pee when you pet them.
Will my dog stop peeing on my feet as he gets older?
Some dogs do stop peeing on their owner’s feet as they get older. However, this largely depends on the reason they are peeing in the first place.
Both submissive and excitement urination should subside as your dog gets older. Adult dogs are not as easily excited, and are typically more confident and comfortable.
If your dog is a senior, they may struggle with bladder control. This makes them more prone to accidents as well.
Spay or Neuter
Spay or neuter can improve your dog’s inappropriate peeing, or cause it to get worse. If you plan to have your dog fixed when they are older, it can stop the peeing, depending on the cause.
Spay or neuter does reduce marking. However, it doesn’t stop it completely. So, if your dog is peeing at your feet to mark you, spay or neuter may end the problem.
However, if they are peeing out of fear, anxiety, or submission, spay or neuter can actually make the problem worse. It typically makes dogs less confident and more prone to anxiety.
It’s also linked to an increase in behavioral problems for males and females. The older the dog is when the procedure is performed, the lower the risk of related behavioral issues.
How to get my dog to stop peeing at my feet?
It can take some time to get your dog to stop peeing at your feet, but it can be done. You’ll need to remain consistent when training your dog not to pee at your feet, and have patience.
Get a Checkup
If you suspect that your dog is peeing on you because of an illness, you’ll need to get them checked out by the vet. In addition to difficulty peeing, look for behavioral changes. If they are fatigued, have a change in appetite or sleeping patterns, it’s a good idea to get a check-up.
Calm an Excited or Submissive Dog
If your dog is excited or submissive peeing, you’ll need to change the way you approach them.
If they are submissively urinating or peeing out of fear or anxiety, approach them from the side. Get down to their level, and avoid direct eye contact. Avoid petting the top of their head. Stay calm and keep interactions low key.
Most importantly, avoid scolding or punishing them when they do have an accident. Instead, clean it up with as little reaction as possible. Punishing them will make them more likely to act submissively or fearfully.
The steps are similar for a dog who gets over excited. When greeting them, keep it relaxed. If your dog begins to get excited, end the interaction.
When you want to have a play session, do it in an area where it’s safe for them to pee. This might be outside, or in an area with puppy pads to catch any accidents. This allows them to have an accident without peeing in an inappropriate spot.
Positive reinforcement is an excellent training tool when used in the correct way. When they pee in the correct place, praise them and give them a treat.
When they have an accident, ignore it and avoid punishment. The key is to not reward accidents with attention, while not contributing to the problem by creating anxiety.
Timing is also an important factor in getting your dog to stop peeing at your feet. Before having a play session or petting them, it’s best to allow them to use the bathroom. Praise them for going in the correct spot. This helps set them, and you, up for success.