Dogcharmer: Conquering excitement peeing

Calming the door turmoil is where it’s at.

A Cane Corso will learn to not urinate when excited around new people. — Courtesy Tom Shelby

Dear Dogcharmer, 

Thank you for taking my question. Please advise how to eliminate the behavior of my new 5-month-old Cane Corso. She pees from the excitement of meeting new people coming to the house.

Thank you, 

Scott Franklin 

Dear Scott,

In my experience, what you are referring to is called nervous wetting, or excitement peeing; I guess it depends on whom you ask or whose advice you read. However, in my working with countless dogs, I feel a slight distinction between the two. In some cases I see it as a gesture of submission, such as when the shy, soft mini-poodle meets the Great Dane and releases some urine as a way of saying, “Don’t worry, I have no intention of trying to attack or dominate you. You’re safe with me.” 

To me, it’s more of an “excitement pee” when the bell rings and there’s a friend of your daughter’s with her mother coming for a play date. Especially with very young dogs, the puppy is just too excited to hold it, and releases. And if not dealt with, it can become habitual. The worst case I encountered was a 2-year-old Lab that peed every time someone came to the door! Those people were at their wit’s end, ready to become hermits.

The fix is de-emotionalizing the greeting at the threshold. The guests have to be told to be very calm and ignore the dog when the door opens. Greet the dog or the people exuberantly, and the excitement is just too much for the puppy not to release. I remember a lady who told me her brother wouldn’t listen to her and always dropped to his knees to hug and kiss the dog. I told her to have the rag and odor neutralizer at the door and tell him, “If you greet the dog and make him pee, you clean!” as you hand him the rag.

Another thing you can do is let the dog smell treats in your hand, and toss them away from the door as you let the people in. Then have the people come in, sit down, and not be loud or exuberant with the dog. Part of my basic training regimen always included what I called “the Door Turmoil Routine,” the routine to eliminate the turmoil at the door. And that consisted of praising the dog for letting you know someone’s at the door, telling the guest to hold on a minute, directing the dog away from the door but within sight of the door, and having the dog stay there while you let the guests in, and then calling the dog over to sit (instead of jumping on the guests) to earn a treat. In most cases this was a difficult lesson, because it requires overcoming a dog’s natural territorial instinct. 

The good news is, in the great majority of cases the puppy outgrows the excitement peeing pretty quickly.

Good luck, and congrats on your new family member.

Dogcharmer Tom

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