Common House Training Problems

The most common house training problems:

  • Submissive/excited urination
  • Scent marking

House Training Problem #1

Submissive Urinator

A dog that urinates on the floor, on himself or maybe on you or a guest. Usually during extreme excitement or stress - when you return home at the end of the day, or when he’s being scolded.

Why do they do it?

Puppies are the most guilty of submissive/excited urination, but it’s not uncommon to see adult dogs with the problem as well: usually, these dogs are highly sensitive and timid and/or ones from a shelter/with a history of abuse (often these last two go hand-in-hand).

When does it happen?

An excited/fearful dog is likely to urinate when:
  • Greeting time after a prolonged absence

  • Play time
  • The arrival of guests

  • Stressful situations at home, eg arguments

  • During a correction (you’re scolding him)

  • Sudden loud noises (thunder, fireworks)

What can I do about it?

The Good News is, it’s not difficult to “cure” your dog of his submissive/excited house training problem.

First, take him to the vet to make sure there’s no medical reason (like diabetes or a bladder infection).

Next, it’s time to take control of the problem:

  • Limit his intake of water. Don’t restrict it over a prolonged period of time, but if you know there’s a situation coming which would normally result in urination – for example, you have guests coming over, or are planning on a play session soon – take his water bowl away for a period of time (maybe half an hour to an hour) before the event.

  • When greeting your dog, stay calm and relaxed. The more excited he is, the harder it is for him to control his bladder, so don’t encourage him: ignore him for the first few moments, give a calm “hello”, a quick pat, and then go about making yourself at home.

  • DO NOT punish or harshly correct your dog for this behavior. It’s not something that he can easily control, and he’s certainly not doing it on purpose. When you catch him in the act, interrupt him (a firm “No!” followed by praise when he stops) but don’t punish him. Keep your cool, and try to understand: he doesn’t mean to do it, after all!

  • If he urinates out of fear (submissiveness) when scolding him for something else, take the stress levels down a bit by keeping a firm, authoritative, but not angry voice. Remember, you’re dealing with a sensitive, highly-strung dog: if you get angry or worry him further, things will only get worse.

House Training Problem #2

Scent marking - is when a dog “marks” his or her territory with urine – its not actually a house training problem, since it’s based on issues of dominance and territoriality rather than poor house training (a dog can be perfectly potty trained but still mark inside the house).

It seems logical, in a way, to link this problem with house training, since this is one of the most widespread problems among dog owners, its worthwhile to include some practical advice.

Scent marking and lack of house training: how to tell the difference.

They're probably scent marking, rather than genuinely relieving himself, if:

  • The amount of urine produced is relatively small, and tends to be directed against vertical surfaces (walls, doors, etc)

  • He’s male, unneutered, and at least five or six months old.

    Unneutered dogs are much more territorial than neutered ones –if you have an unneutered dog in the house, you can pretty much expect a certain amount of scent marking. (Unspayed females also mark, but it’s less common; spayed and neutered dogs can also exhibit marking behavior, but it’s relatively infrequent)


  • It makes little difference how often he’s taken outside for a toilet break

  • He frequently targets items that are new to the house: new possessions, guest clothing/footwear, etc

  • You live in a multi-dog household and there is conflict between two or more of the dogs

  • There are other, unneutered or unspayed pets in the house

What to do about the problem?

Spay or neuter your dog(s) as soon as you possibly can. If you can do this early enough – ideally, at six months of age - this often stops the marking; but if they've been marking for a long time, he or she may continue to do so even after being spayed or neutered, since a pattern of behavior has been established.

Clean soiled areas thoroughly. I suggest you visit How To Remove Urine
6 Easy Steps for a Proven Method of Urine Removal. Freedom is Possible!


Oxi-Clean mixed with warm water is somewhat effective, if that's all you've got use it till you can get the really good stuff from Planet Urine.

Dogs tend to re-mark the same places, finds ways to prevent this house training problem from occuring.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Feed him next to or on top of the spot
  • Play with him there
  • Groom him there
  • Put his bed over or next to it
  • Spend time there yourself: hang out with a book or sit down and work
If there is rivalry between dogs in the household, you’ll need to take steps to relieve it. This conflict is likely due to natures pecking order (a “power struggle”), which means that all you have to do to stop the tension is pay attention to whichever one seems to be more dominant (which one eats first, gets the toys he/she wants, “stares down” another dog), and reinforce this position.

How to do this:

  • Feed the dominant dog first.
  • Pet him/her first.
  • Give him/her a toy before anyone else gets one.
This makes it clear to all dogs in the house which one really is the dominant dog – once this pecking order has been recognizably established, territorial/dominant behaviors like scent marking often vanish overnight.

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