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Hi All,
Éowyn is getting bigger by the minute - she's a little over 5 months now, and my guess is she'll be about 90 pounds full-grown. When she was tiny, I couldn't wait for her to get bigger so she couldn't make mischief under the bed anymore. Now that's she's getting bigger, I almost wish she was a bit smaller so she wouldn't be able to counter-surf! Curbing that behavior is a work-in-progress, but it's honestly proving harder to train my husband to not leave food out on the counter where she can get to it in the first place.

My husband grew up with a dog, but he's never had to be responsible for a puppy, and he's struggling. I did a lot of puppy-raising/fostering/training several years ago, so I have some good experience, and I had pretty much completed training my older girl - Arya - before my husband and I met. Arya is my Service Dog, so she's better behaved than most dogs he had been around. I think that may be part of the reason he's having such a hard time with Éowyn; he expects her to behave like Arya - like an adult dog (with SD training to boot). He's not used to having to change the way he does things in order to create an environment where a puppy can be successful. He's used to being able to go about his own business without worrying that the dog is eating something, destroying something, getting out, etc. I don't mean to imply that he's a bad dog dad, because he's not. He's just having a hard time adjusting. This difficulty is compounded by the piddling.

When we first met the litter, Éowyn was the only one to piddle. It was only a tiny amount at the very first meeting, but she had so many other great qualities that I was willing to chalk it up as a one-time thing. I really ought to have known better. Over the first few weeks, I tried to get people to ignore her when we/they first arrived. I tried to make greetings calm and quiet, but she's adorable and I always ended up feeling like a terrible guest/host for asking people to just leave her be for a bit. The piddling got worse. I don't know if it's because her bladder is simply now able to hold more urine, but what once was a few little dribbles is now a puddle or two (or three). I feel like this is partially my fault - like I didn't stop it from progressing when she first came to us, so I've somehow encouraged it.

She doesn't piddle with me anymore (which is part of why I believe this is a behavioral thing rather than a medical issue), but guests, family, and strangers on walks all get a very wiggly puppy peeing everywhere. So does my husband. When he comes home, she piddles. When she comes to him for pets and he pets her, she piddles. When he scolds her for digging in the trash, she piddles. When he praises her for listening to a basic obedience command, she piddles. The other day, she was in the middle of running around, playing with him, and she stopped and peed - toy still in her mouth, not even squatting. She doesn't do it every time he touches/looks at her, but it happens multiple times a day. He's growing increasingly frustrated, and he feels like he can't interact with her at all anymore. I've tried to remind him that keeping things calm and succinct (even praise for a job well-done) will help, and I've explained to him that scolding her for piddling will not help at all.

My husband is so frustrated with the situation, and I want to be able to help, but I'm not sure what to do. I know this probably all sounds so melodramatic, but I feel like I've failed as a wife, as a dog mom, and as a trainer. I don't want to give her up, but part of me worries that Éowyn would be better suited elsewhere if she's having such strong reactions to my husband. Should we try to keep his interactions with her at a minimum until she's gained more of a handle on her bladder? Should we go the complete opposite route and try to desensitize her to being with him? Should we contact the breeder? Thank you in advance for any help and/or reassurance you can offer. Photo of the girls below.

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Now that's she's getting bigger, I almost wish she was a bit smaller so she wouldn't be able to counter-surf! Curbing that behavior is a work-in-progress, but it's honestly proving harder to train my husband to not leave food out on the counter where she can get to it in the first place.
Hi! I feel you on this regard. I finally got my 9 month old, Molly, to stop counter surfing in the kitchen (counter surfing the end table for tissues or napkins is another story, sadly) and now the puppy and the kitten are in cahoots together. My 1 year old kitten, Harrison, stole a hot dog yesterday off the kitchen counter (my sweet partner even barricaded the counter to keep him off but failed cause Harrison is tenacious... I wish he had just put the platter in the cold oven). Anyways, Harrison steals this hot dog. Jumps to the floor to make off with his prize like the sneaky bandit he is, and Molly wanders in the kitchen to find out what the noise is about. Harrison manages to get off with half the hot dog and Molly gobbles up the other half in the 2 seconds before my partner busts the party up. It happens infrequently enough that we're still in the laughing at it after the fact stage.

She doesn't piddle with me anymore (which is part of why I believe this is a behavioral thing rather than a medical issue), but guests, family, and strangers on walks all get a very wiggly puppy peeing everywhere. So does my husband. When he comes home, she piddles. When she comes to him for pets and he pets her, she piddles. When he scolds her for digging in the trash, she piddles. When he praises her for listening to a basic obedience command, she piddles. The other day, she was in the middle of running around, playing with him, and she stopped and peed - toy still in her mouth, not even squatting. She doesn't do it every time he touches/looks at her, but it happens multiple times a day. He's growing increasingly frustrated, and he feels like he can't interact with her at all anymore. I've tried to remind him that keeping things calm and succinct (even praise for a job well-done) will help, and I've explained to him that scolding her for piddling will not help at all.

My husband is so frustrated with the situation, and I want to be able to help, but I'm not sure what to do...

Should we try to keep his interactions with her at a minimum until she's gained more of a handle on her bladder? Should we go the complete opposite route and try to desensitize her to being with him? Should we contact the breeder?
Excited or submissive peeing is fairly common in puppies. :) My Bear was an excited pee-er until he was about 5 months old. In fact the silliest one was on a walk and stranger bent down to pet him and he pees all down my leg, socks, and sneakers. I had to take us back home to change!

I found this online, maybe it'll help? Submissive and Excitement Urination for website (ucdavis.edu)
Treatment: Things to do:
• Rule out a medical cause by bringing your dog to the veterinarian.
• Gently and calmly greet and interact with your dog.
• Get down to the dog's level when petting or giving attention, so it doesn't feel threatened by someone "hovering" over it.
• Pet the dog under the chin rather than on top of the head
• Approach the dog from the side rather than from the front, and don't stare directly at the dog.
• If the problem occurs upon your returning home due to the dog's excitement, ignore the dog right upon walking in the door. Wait about 5 minutes for them to calm down before giving them attention. At this point, ask guests to ignore the dog at least at first.
• Limit water access to certain predictable times of the day so that outdoor potty schedules can be planned accordingly.
• When the dog submissively urinates, ignore it. Scolding will make things worse, as well as acknowledging the dog with praise may confuse it.
• Use treats rather than physical praise, such as petting.
• Incorporate clicker training to help indicate end of the greeting.
• Build your dog's confidence by teaching obedience commands using positive reinforcement methods with treats and praise. Treatment: Things NOT to do:
• Do not scold or punish the dog; this will make things worse.
• Don't stare directly at the dog's eyes.
• Don't lean or hover over the dog.
• Don't acknowledge the dog in any way when it does urinate.
FWIW - if it is a submissive thing (vs an excited thing), confidence building exercises would be a huge help. And it's ok to tell people not to approach your dog. :) You are your dog's best advocate. If your dog was fear reactive and having strangers in their face resulted in the dog lunging or barking at them, you'd be OK telling people to not approach, right? The same applies if the dog is uncomfortable in other ways.
 

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Hi Brave! Thank you so much for your response. Reading it - and the posts and responses of others - has made me feel a bit better and like there is hope that this issue won’t last forever. Working at different veterinary hospitals and dog training facilities, I encountered excited/submissive pee-ers (sp?) fairly rarely, so I think that made the situation feel more dire.
Hi! I feel you on this regard. I finally got my 9 month old, Molly, to stop counter surfing in the kitchen (counter surfing the end table for tissues or napkins is another story, sadly) and now the puppy and the kitten are in cahoots together.
Oh my goodness, that is hilarious! It’s frustrating, for sure, but I’m glad you and your partner can see the silly in it and laugh. We are fortunate that we only have our two dogs right now, and Arya is a near-perfect older sister, so Éowyn doesn’t have any kids or kittens to be in cahoots with.
FWIW - if it is a submissive thing (vs an excited thing), confidence building exercises would be a huge help. And it's ok to tell people not to approach your dog. :) You are your dog's best advocate. If your dog was fear reactive and having strangers in their face resulted in the dog lunging or barking at them, you'd be OK telling people to not approach, right? The same applies if the dog is uncomfortable in other ways.
I think it’s a bit of both, probably, but maybe more submissive with my husband, so she and I can do some confidence-building exercises together. I also can help him try some confidence-building exercises with her to maybe build that bond a bit better and help her be less anxious around him. My husband can be a bit selective about which of my training tips he wants to follow, so we’ll see how that goes, but I do agree that it will likely help.

Thank you for reminding me that it’s my job to advocate for my dogs. I definitely struggle more with speaking up to family and friends than with strangers. Part of that is that some family members (cough cough, my in-laws, cough cough) just don’t listen to me. I say, “We need to ignore her for about five minutes: don’t touch her, don’t talk to her, don’t even look at her.” But inevitably someone reaches out and she pees. I tend to get upset, because it could have been avoided by just listening to me, and then I feel terribly that I’ve scolded my family members. Maybe once she has a stronger grasp of a “bed”/“stay” command, things will be easier.

Thanks again, Brave!!
 

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I have a piddler. She is almost 18 months old and she's gotten really good about it. I was told it would be gone by a year.. its pretty close to gone but still happens occasionally.
Never ever ever scold her for piddling. Just ignore it and clean it up with an enzyme cleaner.
Obedience training will help with confidence. Also tug games and games on her level.

We went for a walk the other night and a big English cream came running to her. She cowered but didn't pee. The owner came and pet her, she didn't pee.
2 months ago , she saw a golden at the groomers and piddled.
A lot has to do if she has to pee or not now.
Even if she is a long term piddler, it will get better.
We used to try to stop people from touching her and letting her calm down, but it seems like letting them give her a treat works better. strangers = goodies
 

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When she comes to him for pets and he pets her, she piddles. When he scolds her for digging in the trash, she piddles. When he praises her for listening to a basic obedience command, she piddles. The other day, she was in the middle of running around, playing with him, and she stopped and peed - toy still in her mouth, not even squatting.
Murphy (4 months old) piddles if the people around him get excited by piddle. Dog groomers are the worst because they just praise him throughout, so he piddles all over them. I shake my head in disbelief watching them clean it up and cuddle him at the same time with his tail wagging excitedly. We stamped that problem out at home because, instead of reacting when we discovered piddle, we instead very calmly acted like nothing happened and then made his life dull and boring: he had no choice but to sit and watch us clean up his mess while he is tethered to a door or radiator or some such. From Murphy's point of view, if he piddles outside he gets praise and his fun filled life continues; anything else is a drag.

My guess is there is a communication problem, between your puppy and your husband, that incentivises doing the wrong thing. My assumptions:
  • She probably prefers to play with him than to piddle, especially if he is not giving her a reward for piddling outside.
  • She probably perceives scoldings as being part of a game (dogs bark at each other for fun).
  • Even if he is not reacting to her directly, if piddling makes him move around and make noises then he is playing the role of actor in dog theatre!
  • He needs to pick her up and put her on the lawn when she piddles; or when she shows signs that she is going to piddle (dogs sniff around or circle over a spot).
  • And he needs to quickly give her a treat for piddling in the right place (within 5 seconds of piddling); replacing the treat with a simple praise when her behaviour is right.
  • The training needs to be instant. If anything else has happened after piddling then the excitement/actions could be associated with that other thing, which could really confuse the puppy about what she is meant to do.
Picking them up tends to interrupt the piddling, and they learn fast, so my view is that picking up a piddling dog is worth the risk regardless of what clothes are being worn.

Some training theories suggest there can be only one master to give commands and praise, but my view is that theory is debunked by the observation that dogs will respond to a cue or command from strangers. In either case, Murphy and his groomers demonstrate that even a house trained dog will piddle on people if there is an incentive.

I fully appreciate a spouse might not want any part in the training (my wife is that way) but surely they can make an exception for the few training lessons that relate to toilet, safety, and security?
 
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