Piddling greeting

TOP DOG: Your puppy’s piddling is just a signal to you that you are the master.

PIDDLING, that is, squatting to urinate when it becomes excited or when it greets its owners or strangers is a fairly common behaviour in young puppies. The proper name for this behaviour is submissive urination. 

Understanding why your puppy does it is the key to solving this behaviour problem.

Thousands of years ago there were no dogs on the earth, only wolves. At some time there was an interaction between man and wolves and gradually through centuries of selective breeding, man has slowly changed the wolf into dog. We have created a different animal in appearance and manner. 


But, there is behaviour, which we have not changed. One of the behaviours that has remained is the tendency towards submissive urination.

In a wolf pack, the way a wolf cub keeps from getting beat up by an older animal is to give a signal that says “I acknowledge that you are the big bad wolf.” 

That signal is to squat and urinate. It has the absolute power to halt aggression by the older animal. It is what we call a hard wired behaviour. That means it does not have to be learned and that it always works. An adult wolf confronted by a submissively urinating cub is powerless to be aggressive.

Unfortunately, we humans are not hard wired to be non-aggressive when confronted by submissive urination. Our reaction, quite often, is just the opposite of what puppy ‘knows’ will happen when it acknowledges our superiority.

Since it knows that squatting and urinating will stop aggression, it can only assume that the punishment we dish out means that we did not understand its signal. The answer, it thinks, is to give a bigger signal. So, instead of a tiny puddle, we get a large one.

Punishing submissive urination always makes the problem worse. The only solution anyone has found to the problem is to react as though you are a wolf, to be non-aggressive.

As your puppy matures, submissive urination will slowly cease if you do not exacerbate it by punishment. In the meantime, how do we address the problem of wet, ammonia smelling carpets? When you arrive home or have visitors try to greet your puppy outdoors. It will squat and urinate, but at least it will do so on grass.

Approach playtime, inside, with a low-key, calm attitude or, better, take your puppy outside to play.

If it does piddle on the carpet, calmly blot the wet spot with paper towels, slosh white vinegar on the spot and blot that up. White vinegar will kill the odor of both urine and faeces. And finally, rejoice. This problem will, in time, correct itself.


  1. I have an abandoned bitch that the vet says is 4 years old, I have had her 8 months and she has improved enormously still preferring to sleep in her little kennel every night and storing er ‘treasures’. When I have been away a long day. She has been out all the time but she comes in and wees !!! Reading you article on submissive uriantion I suspect this is the problem but will it get better when dealing with a mature ‘wild’ little cross bred chiauau


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