Submissive urination problem

Dear Pawfessor,

My daughter has a ten-month-old black cocker spaniel. She has a submissive urination problem, like all female cocker spaniels. My own cocker spaniel has outgrown this problem. However, my daughter’s cocker is getting worse. She has a six-year-old boy and four-year-old girl and a four-year-old viszla. My daughter’s cocker Ginny is now urinating in her crate. She urinates if you talk to her, if the kids play with her, and even if her husband reaches down to pet her. My daughter has tried everything and is ready to get rid of the puppy.

HELP! Do you have any advice on what to do???

Thank you,

Fran Petersen

See Dion’s answer below

Dear Fran:

There are no problem breeds. It’s a common habit to blame a dog’s troublesome behaviors on its breed, but this is something that I personally disagree with. You say that all female cockers have submissive urination problems, but I know of many cocker spaniels who don’t urinate when submitting, or when called to be in a submissive position. Conversely, I’ve experienced a multitude of other full and mixed breeds – small and large – that do exhibit this particular problem! Be careful about writing a dog off because it’s got a reputation as a “problem breed.” I believe there are no problem breeds, only problem owners.

Do not reward unwanted behavior. It sounds like Ginny may be easily excitable. If so, talking to her and petting her when she is in an unstable, excited state is not recommended. It only nurtures the unwanted behavior. What she may need is to release her pent-up energy, then return to a quiet, safe space.

Recommendations. I recommend a four-step approach to correct Giniy’s submissive urination problem:

1. Take Ginny out on walks more frequently.

2. Make an appointment with her vet to see if there are any health issues, such as a bladder or kidney infection.

3. If Ginny’s health checks out, then I’d advise contacting a qualified dog trainer who can help with Ginny’s potty training.

4. Your daughter will benefit from learning how to set the rules, boundaries, and limitations Giny needs.

An insecure dog will often display submissive urination issues, the best way to work on her self-esteem is by socializing your dog. Best of luck!

Stay calm and committed,

Pawfessor Dion

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