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Some Common House Training Problems and How to Solve Them

House training is one of the areas of dog ownership that’s most subject to misunderstanding, confusion, and just plain dread!

Common house training problem #1: Submissive / excited urination

What is it?

A ‘submissive urinator’ is a dog that urinates on the floor and himself (and sometimes on you and others) in situations of extreme excitement or stress – when you return home at the end of the day, or when he’s being told off.

Why does it happen?

Puppies are the usual candidates for submissive/excited urination, but it’s not uncommon to see adult dogs with the problem as well: usually, these are highly sensitive and timid dogs, and/or ones from a shelter/with a history of abuse.

When does it happen?
Situations when an excited/fearful dog is likely to urinate:
– Greeting time after a prolonged absence
– Play time
– The arrival of guests
– Stressful situations at home, arguments
– During a correction
– Sudden loud noises

First of all, you should take him to the vet to make sure there’s no medical reason for the issue (like diabetes or bladder infection.)
Limit his intake of water to help him control his bladder more effectively. Don’t restrict his water intake over a prolonged period of time however.

When greeting your dog, keep it calm. The more excited he is, the harder it is for him to control his bladder, don’t encourage him to get worked up: ignore him for the first few moments, or give him a neutral “hello”, then a quick pat. It’s important that you DO NOT punish or harshly correct your dog for this behavior. It’s not something that he can easily control, and he’s not doing it on purpose. When you catch him in the act, you can give him a firm “No!” followed by praise when he stops, but don’t punish him. Keep your cool, and be sympathetic.

If he urinates out of fear when scolding him for an offense, try to reduce the stress levels  by keeping a firm, but not angry tone. Remember, you’re dealing with a sensitive, high-strung dog: if you get angry or worry him, the problem will worsen.


Common house training problem #2: Scent marking

Scent marking – where a dog “marks” his or her territory with urine – is not actually a house training problem, since it’s based on issues of dominance and territoriality not insufficient house training.

But  since the problem centers around the unwanted presence of urine in the house – it seems logical, in a way, to link this problem with house training. Scent marking and lack of house training: how to differentiate between the two.

Your dog’s probably scent marking, not genuinely relieving himself, if:

– The amount of urine produced is rather small, and tends to be directed against vertical surfaces (walls, or doors)

– He’s male, unneutered, and at least five or six months old. Unneutered dogs are much more territorial than neutered ones. 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

What to do about the problem?


First thing is spay or neuter your dog(s) as soon as you possibly can, ideally six months of age – this often halts marking altogether; but if your dog’s been marking for a prolonged period of time, he may continue to do so after being spayed or neutered, since a pattern of behavior will have been established.

Clean soiled areas thoroughly. Use a non-ammonia based cleaner (because it smells just like urine) no vinegar (it smells similar to urine.) Because dogs tend to re-mark the same places, you’ll need to redefine the places that you know he’s marked to prevent repeat offending.

For more information on how to successfully house train your dog (as well as a whole bunch of in-depth information on house training troubleshooting and related issues) you’ll probably want to check out The Ultimate House Training Guide. I totally recommend it!

It’s the complete dog-house-training guide. The Ultimate House Training Guide and comes highly recommended.

You can visit the The Ultimate House Training Guide site by clicking this link:

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