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How do I housetrain my puppy?

I am having trouble housetraining my 12-week-old Shih Tzu. He generally is well-trained, but when he gets excited or if I have company over he...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  May 26th 2006


I am having trouble house training my 12-week-old Shih Tzu. He generally is well-trained, but when he gets excited or if I have company over he has a habit of urinating a little bit on the floor. I have been using a crate to train him, and I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong.

Carolyn
Providence, RI

Housetraining Help

Your puppy most likely is engaging in submissive urination. Submissive urination is a common syndrome in young dogs, and it does not indicate that anything is wrong with your dog’s house training.

Your puppy’s behavior is a type of body language among dogs. When a dominant dog meets a submissive dog, the submissive individual may dribble a little bit of urine as a sign that he respects the dominant dog’s status. This means of communication is especially common in juvenile dogs.

Many puppies use this form of body language to communicate with people as well. In other words, when your puppy urinates in the presence of guests, he is actually trying to be respectful to the guests.

Most young dogs outgrow submissive urination over time. You can help your puppy along in that process, as well as reduce the mess in your house, by following a simple rule. Submissive urination usually occurs when a puppy first greets his owner or a guest after a period of absence. The puppy will be less likely to urinate if the excitement of these greetings is reduced. Therefore, you and your guests should try to keep things low key for the first five minutes or so during greetings.