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Help! My Puppy Pees When Excited

Author: Cathy Madson, MA, FDM, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Published: August 23, 2023

Updated: July 5, 2024

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Weimaraner puppy potty accident submissive urinationDoes your puppy pee when they greet you or other people? As a dog trainer, I've had many a puppy pee on me when they run up to say hi. I've never been offended and have to reassure their people that I actually take it as a compliment.

Paired with loose and wiggly body language, a puppy peeing when excited means they really love the person. They can't help it. They have big happy feelings and little bladder control. We call this excitement urination.

But a puppy may also pee when nervous or frightened, so it's important to know the difference so you can get help from a professional to help your puppy build confidence. This type of urination is called submissive urination and you'll usually see other submissive body language along with it, such as crouching, head lowered, tail tucked, or looking away.

If you've noticed that your puppy leaves a puddle on the floor whenever they get excited or nervous, don't worry, you're not alone! Excitement urination is a common behavior in puppies, but understanding the causes and knowing what's considered normal can help you navigate this phase toward pee-free greetings.

What Causes Submissive Urination?scared puppy body language 400 canva

Submissive urination is the involuntary action of urinating that occurs in some puppies or young dogs when they are feeling anxious, scared, threatened, or overwhelmed.

It is a natural instinct in canines, especially when they are trying to show they are no threat to an intimidating individual, whether that be another dog or a human. This can also happen when they anticipate a punishment, such as yelling or scolding.

What Causes Excitement Urination?

Excitement urination usually happens because puppies have developing bladders and less control over their urinary muscles, making accidents more likely when they are experiencing big feelings. Some puppies get so excited, whether it’s during playtime or when greeting their favorite human, that they lose control and urinate.

If excitement urination persists after expected full bladder development (around 4–6 months or longer for smaller breeds), it can be a sign of incomplete potty training, marking behavior, or even separation anxiety.two puppies greeting each other excitedly

Is It Normal for Your Puppy to Pee When They Greet You?

Excitement urination is normal for puppies. It's usually a temporary and self-resolving behavior. Excitement urination is most common in dogs under 1 year old. As puppies mature and gain better control over their bladder and emotional regulation, excitement urination often decreases. 

Submissive urination, while a normal canine behavior, is something that should be addressed with the help of a certified dog trainer. Submissive urination is a fear response, and we want to make sure our puppies are as confident as possible to avoid lifelong behavioral struggles. 

When Should You Worry?

While excitement urination is usually a temporary issue, there are some cases where additional attention may be needed. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Excessive Urination: If your puppy is constantly leaving large amounts of urine or having accidents frequently (even small ones) throughout the day, it could be a sign of a medical issue that requires veterinary attention. Potential medical issues include urinary tract infection, kidney infection, bladder stones, liver issues, or congenital issues (physical malformation) of the bladder and associated structures.

  • Excessive Water Intake: This can be a sign of kidney or hormonal issues.

  • Pain or Discomfort: Some puppies may urinate submissively due to physical discomfort or pain. If you suspect this may be the case, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health problems.

  • Persistent Behavior: If your puppy continues to urinate due to excitement without any signs of improvement beyond one year old, it is beneficial to consult with a certified canine behavior consultant who can assess the situation and provide guidance tailored to your puppy's needs.

How to Train Your Puppy Not to Pee When Excited or Nervous

If you want to reduce excitement or submissive urination, the first thing to do is rule out any possible underlying medical conditions. If there's a medical reason for the behavior, then all the training you do will have little effect.

golden retriever puppy practicing how to sitKeep Greetings Calm

When you arrive home, stay calm and quiet. You may acknowledge your puppy with a soft-spoken greeting but avoid petting your puppy until they have calmed down. Touching a puppy often triggers the excitement urination.

Consider tossing treats for your puppy to find instead of trying to greet you right away. Not only can this work to prevent excitement urination (because their brain focuses on something else and there is no physical contact), but it can also help prevent jumping on people.

If out and about with your puppy, coach others on how to greet your dog in a calm way. You may also just want to say no to any greetings with other people or dogs if your puppy gets too excited. Instead, have your puppy practice sitting calmly while watching people and other dogs pass by. This is an excellent opportunity for puppy socialization without encouraging overexcited greetings and jumping.

Watch Your Body Language

How you move and interact with your puppy can cause fear and submissive urination. Things that for us humans that are considered normal or even polite, like direct eye contact, can be quite confrontational and overwhelming for dogs. Here are some tips for how to reduce the chance of triggering excitement or submissive urination:

  • Avoid reaching over your puppy's head when petting or "patting" them on the head. Instead, let them approach you and pet them gently under the chin.

  • Don't directly bend over your dog. This kind of looming behavior can be quite scary for a puppy.

  • Don't make direct or "hard" eye contact. This is a confrontational signal between dogs.

  • Move slowly and smoothly. Sudden or jerky movements can startle dogs.

  • Speak calmly and softly to your puppy. Avoid yelling or scolding.

Learn more about how your body language affects dog behavior here.

puppy playing with dog puzzleBuild Your Puppy's Confidence

You can help your puppy feel more confident in new or potentially overwhelming situations by building their confidence. What's the best way to do that? Give them choices!

This may sound counterintuitive, but by having a say in what happens to their body and when a puppy becomes more confident. Do they want to come say hi? Do they want to be pet or snuggled with? Or do they prefer to just hang out with their toys for a little bit? Let them decide and then respect.

Never force your puppy to interact with people, other dogs, or things that they show caution toward. Never bribe them to engage with new people with treats — that can backfire and create a negative association with food. If they choose to take a step toward interaction, praise and offer the treat reward back toward you.

Another great way to build confidence is to provide them with interactive toys and food puzzles. This works their brain and builds their independent problem-solving abilities. Nose work games can be another fantastic dog-specific way to increase confidence and burn extra energy. Check out this video for some quick and easy nose work games to play:


If your puppy is showing worrisome body language, like trying to run away from people or things, or even growling or biting, then you need to connect with a certified canine behavior consultant ASAP. It's best and easiest to address these issues when your puppy is still young — they don't simply "grow out of it" without support and proactive training.

Questions? To chat with a certified canine behavior consultant about your puppy's behavior, Click here

Avoid Punishment

The most important thing you can do with your puppy is build a relationship of trust and partnership. Train your puppy using force-free methods and positive reinforcement. Don't yell at, hit, or throw things at your puppy. Do not use aversive tools such as choke collars, prong collars, or shock collars (e-collars). Not only do these increase fear and aggression over time, but they are not as effective as positive reinforcement training.

Learn more about aversives in dog training and why you should avoid them here.

Remember, every puppy is unique, and they develop at their own pace. With time and patience, most puppies grow out of excitement or submissive urination as they gain confidence and bladder control. However, if you have any concerns or doubts about your pup's behavior, it's always best to consult with your veterinarian and a certified professional trainer to ensure future success.

virtual dog training and behavior consultations

About the author

Profile picture for Cathy Madson

Cathy Madson, MA, FDM, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

As Preventive Vet's dog behavior expert and lead trainer at Pupstanding Academy, Cathy focuses on helping humans and their pets build a strong relationship based on trust, clear communication, and the use of positive reinforcement and force-free methods. With over 13 years of experience, she has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of dogs on a wide variety of training and behavior issues. Beyond her one-on-one consultations through Pupstanding Academy, she also teaches group dog training classes at Seattle Humane. Her specialties include dog aggression, resource guarding, separation anxiety, and puppy socialization.

Cathy is a certified Family Dog Mediator, and certified through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, holding both the CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA designations. Cathy is a Fear Free Certified Certified Professional, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the Pet Professional Guild, and the Dog Writer's Association of America. She has also completed the Aggression in Dogs Master Course.

When she's not geeking out about dogs, you can find her reading, hiking with her two Cardigan Welsh Corgis, or paddleboarding.