There are some cases were German Shepherds or other dogs, in general, urinate when you pet them or when they are afraid.
Many dog parents ask “why does my German Shepherd urinate when I pet them and how do you solve it?”
The main reason that your German Shepherd urinates when you pet them is that they have submission urination.
Submission urinations happens because of three causes which are a lack of confidence, abuse, or poor socialization.
What is submission urination?
Submission urination is a way for dogs or puppies to show submission. It’s one of their ways to show respect. The main cause of submission urination is fear.
Many puppies do urinate when they haven’t learned or perfected their social skills and how to show respect.
In adulthood, submissive urination is a sign that your dog is insecure because of past trauma or desocialization.
Dogs will urinate when greeting people or animals, playing, being excited, during physical contact such as petting, or when scolded and punished.
It’s like they are losing bladder control. Some dogs make dribble of urine while others make paddles of urine.
What is the main cause of submissive urination in German Shepherds?
Behavioral issues that lead to submissive urination have to do with lack of confidence, abuse, or poor socialization.
You will know it is a behavioral issue when your German Shepherd dog urinates when making eye contact with people or certain people.
You got to also know the background of your dog to know whether they were abused in the past or have never been socialized.
This could lead them to become afraid of situations, people, and things that don’t pose a threat.
How to know that your German Shepherd has submissive urination?
When triggered your dog will show signs such as:
- a submissive posture like cowering
- lowering the body
- raising the front paws
- flattening the ears back
- tucking the tail
- licking the lips
- a submissive grin.
Other times that can help you know that your dog has submissive urination:
- When they are being scolded
- Being greeted
- Someone approaches them
- When there is a chaotic disturbance such as loud sirens or a loud argument
These signs will let you know that your German Shepherd is about to submissively urinate.
What medical conditions to rule out when trying to find out if it’s submissive urination?
If your submissively urinates indoors or at inappropriate times, you have to, first, visit the vet to rule out any medical conditions that your dog may have.
A medical condition may cause your German Shepherd to urinate involuntarily.
Some of these medical conditions and causes are:
You can easily know if your dog has gastrointestinal upset if they eliminate loose stool or diarrhea accompanied by urine.
Change in diet
When you change your dog’s diet by switching the type of food and amount of food given, they may experience a house-soiling problem.
After a diet change, your dog will eliminate loose stools, diarrhea, and urine.
They will need to eliminate more frequently and at different times.
Some dogs elimination is caused by urinary incontinence. In this condition, a dog leaks or completely empty the bladder.
Typically, dogs with this condition are unaware of their elimination and happen involuntarily.
Sometimes, dogs may urinate involuntarily throughout their sleep.
Urinary tract infection
A urinary tract infection will cause your dog to void a small amount of urine frequently.
It doesn’t stop and need treatment immediately.
What behaviors to rule out before concluding it’s submissive urination?
Untrained young puppy
If a puppy is less than 12 weeks of age, they might not be house trained.
The lack of housetraining will cause your puppy to urinate anywhere and at anytime.
Many puppies haven’t developed bladder control and they can’t hold it for a specific time.
Some dogs may be incompletely housetrained. An incomplete housetrained dog will soil the house because they haven’t completed the housetraining.
They may soil when they haven’t been given opportunities to eliminate outside, soil when left alone at home for a long period of time.
Some dogs soil anywhere in the house while others sneak out to soil in other rooms.
There are also times where an incomplete housetrained doesn’t know how to indicate to their parents that they need to eliminate.
Dogs urinate in the house because they are scent marking.
Dogs scent mark for a variety of reasons such as to claim territory, identify themselves to other dogs and let them know that they have been there, and in response to stress and frustration such as separation anxiety.
How to stop submissive urination in dogs?
Dogs usually grow out of submissive urination by the time that they are one year old.
However, there are some dogs who don’t grow out of it.
Here are the top ways to stop a German Shepherd from submissively urinating.
1.) Greet your dog outside
You have to greet your dog outside so when they urinate submissively, it happens outside.
This isn’t a solution to the problem rather it ensures, at first, that you are in control of where your dog urinates.
2.) Toss a handful of toys and treats
Give your dog toys and treats as they walk into your direction to greet you.
Your dog will be focusing on the toys and treats and won’t be afraid.
They will be less likely to urinate submissively when you do that.
3.) Ignore your dog when you first come home
When you first come home and walk through the door, ignore your dog. You have to wait until they completely calmed down before interacting with them.
When you finally greet your dog, do so calmly and don’t look straight at them rather look at their side so they don’t feel intimidated.
4.) Teach your dog to perform a behavior
When dogs greet people, distract them by asking them to do commands such as sit.
The whole aim of this is to teach dogs to not submissively urinate by teaching them other behaviors.
You have to practice the sit behavior outside of the greeting context without people around.
5.) Keep play sessions low-key
Make play sessions fun and focus on letting your dog play with toys rather than on physical touch so your dog doesn’t submissively urinate.
6.) Gradually expose them to new people and situations
Try to ensure that their experiences are positive when meeting new people and being in situations.
By doing so, your dog doesn’t become afraid so they don’t urinate submissively.
7.) Avoid approaching them with dominant postures
Don’t confront your dog with dominant or confrontational postures.
Your German Shepherd will interpret these postures as a threat.
You have to avoid direct eye contact. Instead, look at their back or tail instead.
You can also bend down at your knees rather than leaning over from the waist. Finally, pet them on their chin rather than on top of their head.
8.) Eliminate odors in places that your dog submissively urinates
Accidents are more likely to happen. When they happen, you have to be prepared.
Get a cleaner and clean the area that your dog urinated in. By doing so, you ensure that your dog doesn’t feel like this is a place to urinate in. You also keep your house clean.
9.) Don’t punish your German Shepherd
Punishing and scolding your dog will only make the problem severe; your dog will feel more afraid and their confidence will become lower.
The problem will not stop and your German Shepherd will keep on submissively urinating.
10.) Give your dog medication
In severe cases, your dog may not respond to any of the above tips. They may be too afraid that they need medication.
Always consult with your vet about the type of medication that you will give to your dog, give them the medication, and retrain them to not submissively urinate.
Can dogs urinate when they are excited?
There are accidents that happen when your dog is playing or greeting people. They aren’t due to your dog feeling fear rather they are due to them feeling excited.
It usually happens to puppies under one year of age; however, most dogs grow out of it even though it takes time.
How to solve this problem?
1.) Always take your dog to potty before play sessions and keep your body language calm as you interact with your dog so they won’t feel excited and urinate.
2.) If touching your dog causes this behavior, then you can use dog toys as a barrier between you and your dog during play.
3.) Make your greeting to your dog low-key.
4.) Don’t punish your dog when there is an accident. Just clean it up and leave your dog alone. If they eliminate during walks, praise your dog and give them treats.
A German Shepherd can have submission urination when they afraid or excited. There are many causes for this behavior.
However, there are many solutions that will solve this problem.
To know more about if a German Shepherd can live in the backyard, check Can German Shepherds Live in the Backyard Alone?