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D2004-30

Dear Daisy Dog

Sadie, our cocker spaniel, squats and urinates whenever someone comes to the house. It’s embarrassing, and besides, we’re about to have new carpeting installed.
We’ve tried scolding her, but that only makes it worse. What can you suggest?

Daisy Responds

The behavior you are describing, submissive urination, usually begins when dogs are young and, as you’ve found, it gets worse with punishment.

It occurs in overly submissive or fearful dogs, regardless of breed or gender. Thankfully, I never had the problem.

To address the situation, have your veterinarian rule out a urinary tract infection, which would exacerbate the problem.

Boost Sadie’s self confidence through obedience training and visits with a variety of dogs and people.

Teach her what she’s expected to do when people enter the house. For example, have her go to her mat and sit, sit up and beg, or fetch a favorite toy.

Practice daily, when no one is at the door, so she’ll respond correctly when company comes.

Ask visitors to make themselves less intimidating by ignoring Sadie when they arrive.

They shouldn’t make eye contact or reach to pet her. Instead, they should sit down and let her come to them when she is ready.

And they should speak quietly, because booming voices scare us dogs.

When Sadie behaves properly, whether it’s sitting on her mat or greeting the visitor confidently, reward her with praise and a treat.

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