When you get peed on… it’s a moment of confusion followed by disgust, swiftly followed (usually) by grumpiness and confusion once more.
Which is why you’re likely reading this right now, huh?
Dogs are supposed to be our best friends and protectors, but when they pee on us it can feel like we’re not something they love at all, in fact, we’re pretty much the same as a tree. Peeing on people is normal behavior for dogs — but that doesn’t mean we should just roll over and accept it! There are reasons why all sorts of dogs might decide they need to pee while sleeping next to us or while being petted by one of their favorite humans.
If your potty training is going well, and you know they’ve not missed a potty break, and suddenly your dog pees on you, you might start to think that this is urine marking, or territorial marking is a possible reason. But, I promise you, it’s not that.
Why It’s Not Territorial Marking
This was such a popular belief for a long time. Firstly, because sexually immature dogs won’t mark territory, and even if your puppy is getting towards that age, this sort of behavioral issues is highly unlikely to have developed this young, verses a whole host of other things that might be going on. So, much like everything in dog training, if you hear paws padding towards you, think dog, not wolf. It’s good to remember, that whilst we may joke about man’s best friend peeing on fire hydrants as a way of saying “mine”, scent marking is more of a way that your canine companion says “hey!” to his dog buddies, or “Indie woz ‘ere”
So instead, it’s probably a good idea to start chatting about the whole host of other things that are a much more likely reason for your dog to suddenly be peeing, the following tips and pointers should give you something that resonates and feels about right.
Toilet training should be done outside, ideally, right?
An Abundance Of Scent.
Whilst this is anecdotal, the few times I’ve seen dogs or puppies deliberately pee on someone, it’s because they have an abundance of smells, unfamiliar scents, and it’s natural in your dog’s behavior book that some times they want to be a part of a mix of scents.
Again, this doesn’t mean that your dog is claiming you, or your new baby, it just means that the underlying issue is that your clothes may need a wash!
Urinary Tract Infection
From my experience, the most common reason a puppy starts peeing on you is urinary incontinence and/or general medical reasons. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a very common cause of increased urine production in dogs. These infections can be hard to diagnose, especially if your dog doesn’t show any other symptoms. Your veterinarian will likely perform a urinalysis (and possibly other diagnostic tests) and may also take some blood samples to check for signs of infection. This would be more the case that your puppy was laying on you, or sitting on your foot etc, and peed without knowing, or expecting it.
Sudden, Loud Noise
Another common time that a new pet suddenly urinates on their pet parents is because of loud noises, like fireworks, thunder storms or someone dropping a baking sheet as they get it out of the dishwasher.
Your puppy will show “submissive postures”, or fearful body language like lip licking, whale eye, and likely some amount of cowering, or hiding. New experiences that include a lot of loud noise is scary! And whilst the phrase for humans might be to scare the poop outta you, for dogs, its usually pee.
The dog could be over-excited.
Your dog could be over-excited. Dogs can get so excited that they start peeing when they’re happy, especially if they’ve been waiting a long time for you to get home, and the excitement urination comes as their excitement overwhelms their normal bladder control causing actual physical issues where they cannot control themselves.
If your dog has a housebreaking problem and is peeing everywhere inside the house, try giving him more exercise and fewer treats while he’s on leash (this means no more table scraps!). You should always keep an eye on your pup when he’s outside because there may be other things around that make him want to go #2!
sleeping puppies in your lap can sometimes lose control if they have something like a UTI.
The dog could be in pain.
If the dog is in pain, they may be trying to tell you something. If you notice that your dog has started peeing on you or the bed more often than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Take him or her to the vet right away so they can figure out what’s going on and get treatment started. Medical problems are more likely in older dogs, but it is possible for this to happen with puppies.
Other Medical Issue
If your dog is having a medical issue, which could be as simple as a dog’s inability to properly process lactose*, they may be trying to tell you something. If you notice that your dog has started peeing on you or the bed more often than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Take him or her to the vet right away so they can figure out what’s going on and get treatment started. Common medical cause for peeing include: Bladder infection, Bladder stones, kidney stones, or kidney disease.
*I use this example because this happened with Indie (my dog) as a small puppy. I gave him cows milk and he started just … peeing as he walked along. Very strange!
Your dog may be scared
You may not realize it, but your dog has feelings just like you do. And when they’re scared, it’s not uncommon for them to urinate or defecate in an attempt to escape whatever is scaring them. For example, inappropriate urination on a human may happen if you take your young puppies to a dog park (or a new environment) and expect them to deal with it.
Steep learning curbs and new situations can cause overwhelm and fear. This could also result in a lot of negative behavior and I would never recommend this as a way to socialise your puppy…
If you notice that your dog seems frightened and is trying to run away from something (or someone), follow these steps:
Keep calm yourself–this will help keep your dog calm as well! If he sees that you’re relaxed and unafraid, he’ll feel more secure about staying put with you instead of bolting away from what made him nervous in the first place.
Give him some space so he can get used to whatever caused his initial reaction without feeling crowded or trapped by other people around him (especially if those people are strangers).
Remember, an anxious dog is usually bred this way! So you should always invest in a well bred puppy if you’re bringing home a new dog.
If you scare your dog, or they scare themselves, it might be the problem too – remember, whether they pee on you, or dig up your roses, we never scold them.
Submissive urination (aka Greeting excitement)
Submissive peeing is more common in very excitable female dogs and they’re often just referred to as “submissive dogs” (regardless of whether they’re an adult dog or a young dog). This is when your dog pees when he sees you or other, very exciting humans. It’s one of those things that excitement affects the control of their bladder. Usually, this is only with a small amount of urine.
This usually improves as young dogs age, but if your dog feels strongly enough about the person entering the home (like you, dog owners! Or sometimes new people) it can just overwhelm them.
It is true that this is also a nervous or “submissive behavior” (wrongly labelled thanks to dominance theory which has since been debunked), that is usually coupled with the nervous dog rolling on their side, exposing their tummy and peeing small amounts of urine. If this is the sort of body language your dog or puppy is showing towards you? Then it might just be they’re scared of you. So, hopefully this isn’t it!
If this happens it’s best to ignore the behavior–don’t scold him or punish him for peeing. Instead, try giving him some space and making sure that there are no other animals around before approaching him again so he doesn’t feel overwhelmed by his surroundings or like he needs to continue being submissive as a way of dealing with them.
Make sure you know how to handle your dog when they pee on you
If your dog has ever peed on you, it’s important to know that they didn’t do it out of spite or anger. Dogs do not have the cognitive abilities to be angry at us, and they are not trying to hurt us when they pee on us (although it can feel like that). Instead, dogs pee on their owners as a way of saying ‘I trust you!’
Dogs mark their territory with scent glands located in their paws and face; thus, when they go to shake hands with someone new, they might accidentally mark them with urine as well! If this happens often enough then perhaps something needs addressing with your vet? However if this is an isolated incident then chances are everything is fine!
The last thing I should say also, is whenever your dog pees, remember the enzymatic cleaner will help to remove the smell properly and prevent it from happening again. I hope you’ve learned something new about why your dog pees on you, and how to handle it. I’d advise that if nothing seems logical, the easiest way to follow up on this is by ruling out health issues first, then if puppy gets a clean bill of health, consider behavior modification plans – the root of the problem is always the right place to start if you’re training, because this unwanted behavior is more than just an unwanted behavior.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!