Dogs at the Door
Like Pavlov’s dogs, who salivated at the sound of a bell, some canines turn into a quivering fountain of pee when they hear the doorbell. Shoes covered with piddle may not be the welcome your guests are expecting, but there are a few steps you can take to eliminate the behavior.

Most dogs pee at the door out of submission or excitement. A young puppy, for example, may urinate at the door out of excitement because the muscle tone in her urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside) isn’t fully developed. As her sphincter control improves, she may grow out of the behavior.

But dogs who continue this behavior into adulthood may need more help. Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to make sure there’s no underlying medical condition behind the problem. Make a list of the kind of scenarios that usually bring out the behavior to share with your vet.

Submissive Urination vs. Excitement Piddling

Submissive urination, which occurs more in females, is a dog’s way of waving the white flag — it’s a signal that she’s surrendering her authority, that she’s not a threat. This behavior may be associated with experiences of inappropriate punishment or control at a younger age. When a person at the door gives the dog direct eye contact or leans over her, it may be perceived as threatening, so she responds by trying to appease that person.

Typically, the dog will partially or completely squat and then roll onto her side or back while urinating. The act has just the effect that she wants: The potentially threatening person usually steps away. She may also show other submissive behaviors, such as cowering, holding her ears back and avoiding direct eye contact.

An excited dog, on the other hand, usually doesn’t show submissive signs. That trail of pee is just her way of saying, “Oh, boy, someone to play with me! Maybe they have a treat! Maybe they’ll throw my ball! Maybe they’ll rub my belly!”

How to Put a Stop to the Peeing

The worst thing that you can do in these scenarios is to punish the dog. Scolding, rubbing her nose in the pee or swatting at her only makes your dog more fearful and exacerbates the problem — resulting in even more peeing. Whether your dog is urinating out of submission or excitement, here are a few steps you can take to curb the behavior.

Coach friends who come to the door to ignore the dog. They should remain calm and refrain from saying the dog’s name, reaching for her or giving her direct eye contact. They should walk by her, speak quietly and avoid excited greetings.

Take the dog outside to urinate before she’s allowed to approach guests. Friends should only greet her when she’s calm — and not urinating. If they want to pet your dog, ask them to get down to her level, without bending or reaching over her.

You can also ask your dog to sit at the door. Then reward her calm behavior with a treat.

If there are no underlying medical conditions, and you are still scrubbing the welcome mat, consider talking to a veterinary behaviorist or a certified dog trainer. They can help make greetings at the door more pleasant for your dog and your guests.