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Why Does My Dog Pee When Scared? 6 Possible Reasons

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Most dog lovers could not imagine life without their pets, but some aspects of living with canines can be unpleasant. During the training phase, dogs are likely to make a few messes indoors, but what do you do when your dog urinates when it’s scared? Dogs can lose control of their bladders for several reasons, and some of the reasons we’ll discuss can be corrected.

However, a urinary issue relating to a medical problem can only be treated by your veterinarian. Catching an infection or illness in the early stages is vital for a successful recovery. If your dog urinates indoors frequently, a visit to the doctor can prevent the condition from getting worse.Divider 2

Reacting to Indoor Accidents

Before we discuss why scared dogs pee inside, it’s important to mention that your reaction to a pool of urine or other mess affects your dog’s behavior and training. Punishing the animal for urinating will only weaken the bond you share, and it can make potty training even more challenging. Instead of peeing on the middle of the living room floor, the dog may decide to pee behind a chair next time to avoid a scary punishment.

If you catch your buddy in the act, you can firmly say “stop” or “no,” but try not to release an ear-splitting scream. Next, try leading the dog outside to show it the correct spot in the yard. Dogs are clueless about appropriate behavior without a patient trainer to guide them along, but they begin to learn through encouragement and repetition. Whether a urinary problem is medical or behavioral, a dog is not urinating indoors out of spite or other nefarious reason.

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6 Reasons Why Dogs Pee When Scared

1. Troubling History

Reputable breeders typically expose their puppies to children, other animals, loud music, and even an occasional car ride. However, many puppies and dogs are not socialized when they’re young and become frightened when they encounter or hear something unfamiliar. Dogs with troubled pasts are often associated with abused rescue animals, but dogs can have anxiety problems without being physically abused. If they’re unaccustomed to loud noises or obnoxious strangers, the trauma can cause them to lose control of their bladder temporarily.

How to correct the behavior:

Training a traumatized pet is challenging and requires more patience than dealing with a well-socialized animal. One of the most vital steps is learning the pup’s body language. If you see any signs of anxiety, such as tucking the tail between the legs or backing away, it’s best to give the dog some space to reach a safe area. You can set up a dog bed and a few chew toys in another quiet room as a safe zone. Ask your friends to limit drop-in appearances and refrain from bothering the dog until the animal becomes more comfortable in the environment. When you lead the dog outside to use the bathroom, provide a reward after it pees in the right spot.

scared puppy
Image Credit: evgengerasimovich, Shutterstock

2. Inadequate Training

If you recently adopted an adult dog, the animal may not know where to use the restroom because it was not appropriately trained. Some dogs were raised outside, and they may be unfamiliar with a carpet until you teach them. Potty training an adult is just like training a puppy but often requires more time and perseverance to complete. Some breeds adapt to training quickly, but others need more repetition and encouragement.

How to correct the behavior:

Establish a walking and bathroom break routine so your dog is less inclined to urinate indoors. When the animal urinates the correct place, give it a treat and say, “Good dog.” Say “No” when the dog pees indoors and gently take it outside. Then use a dog stain remover with an enzymatic formula to clean the mess. Enzymatic cleaners remove the proteins causing odors to reduce the dog’s chance of going in the same spot.

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3. Drastic Changes

If your dog was potty trained but started using the restroom indoors, the cause could be related to an abrupt change in its routine or environment. A move to a new home, a new pet in the house, or a shift from online work to an office job can increase anxiety and cause the dog to display unusual behavior. In addition to urinating indoors, a dog suffering from anxiety may destroy furniture or become more aggressive.

How to correct the behavior:

Some dogs will eventually adapt to new changes, but you should continue giving them attention and love even when they struggle with bathroom etiquette. If separation anxiety is the problem, you can hire a dog walker to spend time with them for part of the day and leave plenty of interactive toys for them to use when you’re at work. A veterinarian should check dogs with severe anxiety. Doctors can prescribe calming medications or suggest natural remedies that relieve stress.

scared dog
Image Credit: LauraTara ,Pixabay

4. Submissive Urination

A Dog suffering from submissive urination issues is often triggered when a stranger greets them with exuberance. Before urinating, the dog may crouch down, roll over, or tuck its tail between its legs. Reaching from a standing position to pet the animal is intimidating to some dogs, and submissive dogs may respond by peeing on the floor. Shouting and cruel verbal abuse can also cause a scared dog to release its bladder.

How to correct the behavior:

Correcting a submissive dog involves exposing it to stimuli in small steps. If your friend or neighbor visits regularly, ask them to avoid greeting the dog. You can keep the dog at a safe distance when they arrive and gradually bring them closer in subsequent meetings. Whenever the dog shivers or looks stressed, move back again, and try to move closer the next time.

5. Urinary Tract Infections

If your dog is not peeing inside because of a behavioral issue, the problem may be related to a medical problem. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common issues that veterinarians have vast experience in treating. Some symptoms of a UTI include bloody urine, frequent urination, smelly urine, and excessive genital licking. Unlike submissive dogs who can learn to pee outside, a dog with a UTI cannot control its bladder.

How to correct the behavior:

A urinary tract infection will not go away or eventually improve; a veterinarian must treat it to prevent further damage. Vets may prescribe antibiotics for an acute infection for up to 2 weeks, but chronic illnesses usually require several weeks of antibiotic treatments. In some cases, the vet may decide that pain medication, probiotics, and anti-inflammatories are necessary to treat the symptoms.

Chihuahua dog scared
Image By: Mylene2401, Pixabay

6. Incontinence

Although dogs of all ages can experience incontinence, it’s more prevalent with senior dogs and spayed females with low estrogen levels. Urinary incontinence is caused by several factors, including spinal injuries, hormonal imbalances, prostate issues, excessive water intake, cancer, and inherited medical conditions. An incontinent dog will typically urinate when sleeping or resting comfortably.

How to correct the behavior:

Incontinent dogs can only be treated effectively by a veterinarian. Depending on the diagnosis, some dogs can improve with medication. However, a prior injury or severe medical condition may require surgery to correct the issue. In some cases, the canine may have to live with urinary problems for the rest of its life.

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Although your white carpet covered with urine is not what you expect from your well-behaved dog, handling the situation with patience and empathy is crucial to correcting the behavior. Dogs do not like to disappoint their families, but their bathroom habits are sometimes beyond their control. With veterinary assistance and humane training techniques, you can help a scared or submissive dog overcome its fears and learn to use the bathroom outside.

  • https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/adopting-pet-history-abuse-what-you-should-know
  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-dog-anxiety/
  • https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/dog-submissive-urination-solutions
  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/urinary-tract-infections-utis-in-dogs#:~:text=Dogs%20with%20UTIs%20generally%20attempt,that%20a%20UTI%20is%20present.
  • https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/urinary/utis-dogs-urinary-tract-infections-dogs
  • https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/urinary-incontinence-dogs
  • https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4952092

Featured Image Credit: Patrick H, Shutterstock

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