Dear Dr. Zeus,
When my people come home I am so excited and so pleased to see them. I want to ask them so many questions – where did they go? who did they see? what did they smell? Sometimes, I’m so excited that I accidentally pee. It either usually makes them laugh or totally puts a damper on the homecoming. Why do I do this?! Damp in Arizona – Winnie, the Toller
Well to be frank with you, peeing when greeting someone is the ultimate form of respect & intimidation. So by peeing when you are greeting them, you are trying to show them respect. Alas, people greet and show appreciation for each other in very different ways and they typically do not include peeing. For us dogs, peeing is the ultimate form of respect. This is because knowing our own rank and others ranks is very important to us and this comes from our pack instincts. We do not care where we are in the hierarchy, whether we are at the top or the bottom, but we really want to be clear on our position. When our hierarchical position is in question, that is when aggression or fear can affect us. Thus, to keep questions of rank very clear we like to use body language to show respect as well as power. Some other ways that we show respect is by avoiding eye contact, crouching, and peeing is the ultimate for of clearing up any ambiguity. It is essentially like saying “You are the boss and I am not!”. But wait there’s more!
Sometimes we are just too excited and we lose control of our bladders. This is more common in puppies and young dogs because they just have so much energy and their minds generally tend to have but one track. But it can also occur in older dogs as well. The same dogs that pee when they are excited also tend to do it in the alternate situation, when they are in trouble. Submissive peeing is a way of saying sorry. An example is that most dogs hate it when people raise their voices and will try to make them happy again, if all else fails and the tension is too high often, dogs will pee in submission because they are just trying to make it better. Although people may not feel this is the best way of saying sorry or breaking the tension, it’s not like we can bake them a cake or order flowers, it’s the best we can do sometimes!
So I hope this helps you, Winnie. You are just trying to show respect as well as you’re probably a little too excited to remember your bladder control. You will likely grow out of it. But what is not to like about a happy dog when someone comes home?!
Regards, Dr. Zeus
Category : Ask Dr. Zeus