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Help! My Dog is Peeing for Attention!

Jack Russell on a hard wood floor next to a puddle of pee

Dog ownership comes with all sorts of feel-good benefits, after all, they were practically made to be the ultimate companions. However, being a pet parent also comes with its own dog-specific set of problems as well. Destructive behaviors are not exactly uncommon in the dog-owning world. A fairly frequent issue with regards to behavioral problems is acting out for attention. Not unlike human children, displaying these types of behaviors are commonplace. And, luckily, they are generally relatively easy to treat – although, you do need to find out the reason to be able to formulate an appropriate treatment plan. If you find yourself asking “Why is my dog peeing for attention?”, stay calm and read on – we’ve got all the answers covered but it is still recommended to get in touch with your veterinarian.

Attention-Seeking Behaviors VS Submissive Urination

There’s a big difference between a dog peeing in the house looking for attention, and excitable or submissive urination. When your dog is peeing in search of attention, it would be considered more of a learned behaviour – as in, the dog knows that by doing so he will likely get your attention (regardless if it’s good or bad attention – it doesn’t matter). Whereas submissive urination is typically something that is compulsive – he is unable to help it. In either case, your dog can be trained or retrained to not do so.

Breed-Specific Traits

Cocker Spaniel family. 2 adults and 2 puppies

Certain dog breeds are more prone to excitable or submissive urination. The Dachshund breed, Cocker Spaniels, and Poodles, for instance, are known for tinkling when they get nervous, scared, or excited. If your dog happens to be a breed that tends to suffer from this issue – all hope is not lost. It might be a bit more difficult but your dog, too, can be taught to ‘hold it in’. Changing the way that you react towards your dog can help, too. Try to ignore him upon returning home. The more excited he gets during the greeting, the more likely he is to have an ‘accident’. Also, avoiding eye contact can do wonders for this problem.

The Right Way, and The Wrong Way to Deal with the Situation

pug covering face

Regardless of why the dog is peeing, whether it be due to attention-seeking behaviours or is breed-specific, there are certain things that you do not want to do when attempting to fix the issue. When your dog seems to be acting out by peeing in inappropriate places for attention, it can, understandably, make the most laid-back human angry. The problem with that is, your reaction to the situation is critical when figuring out how to fix it.

Getting angry, and acting on that anger, is likely going to be counterintuitive and, simply put, will probably back-fire. When we show anger, it teaches them to fear us. That fear tends to take over and can result in any possible lessons being lost in translation, so to speak. It can also cause the dog to submissively urinate, which obviously, defeats the entire purpose.

Potential Factors That Could Come Into Play

Dalmatian behind fence

The background and prior life experiences of your pup could play a massive role in any type of attention-seeking behavior. Dogs that have a background of neglect or abuse, as well as those that have suffered from any sort of traumatic event, are far more likely to suffer from attention-seeking issues like peeing in the house. In these cases, the rehabilitation process can be tricky. Slow and steady wins the race – don’t push and don’t rush. The goal is to overcome the dog’s fear of retaliation and that can only be done if you stay calm and take it easy on him.

Ruling Out More Serious Possibilities

Yorkie at vet

Ruling out a more serious, and possibly life-threatening cause is especially important. There are several serious medical conditions that can cause polyuria (increased urination). These illnesses can include diabetes, kidney disease, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s, and renal disease. If left untreated, all of these conditions could potentially be fatal.

A Proper Solution

Making an appointment with your pets’ veterinarian should be the very first step. Diagnostics and testing will be ordered along with a full examination. This is to rule out any underlying medical cause. The doctor will also be able to lead you toward the best course of action. A dog that is peeing solely for attention is likely going to need some sort of behavioural therapy and possibly even some obedience training.

In addition to bringing in outside professional help, there are other steps that you can take to make the journey a little bit easier. Additional time outdoors, tracking water intake, and removing memory triggers can increase the chances of success. Memory triggers are certain things that can trigger your dog to urinate. A lot of the time this is related to smell. The scent left behind by the dog can provoke them to do it again. Always be sure to sufficiently clean any stained areas in the home. Every little step helps and those, along with patience and fortitude will eventually lead you both to where you want to be (without the attention-seeking peeing).

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