Help! My Dog Pees When I Raise My Voice.

Puppy peeing in house #2

QUESTION:

I’m having an issue with our 15-week-old GSD puppy. When I raise my voice in a firm tone, he pees. How do I fix this problem?

 

ANSWER:

First, make sure the level/volume of your voice is always the same; it’s only the tone that should change depending on whether you’re praising or correcting your dog. Some people get into a bad habit of raising the volume of their voices for corrections to the point where they are even semi yelling at their dogs, and this can cause their dogs to emotionally overreact, creating problems such as involuntary bowel release.

You should be able to keep your volume quite low and still effectively correct your dog by simply using a serious tone. This tone only needs to be very different from the tones you use when you’re happy with your dog and simply interacting with him, and it’s this difference in the way you speak – not how loud you speak – that causes your dog to realize that he has gone beyond the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Your goal is to teach your dog to voluntarily respect the behavioral boundaries you establish inside and outside your home. Once your dog has reached this level of self-governance then he is operating within what I call the “Trust Zone.” The way to get there is through effective communication, nature-based correction, praise-based reward, and reinforcement – all in proper balance. However, if the first step in the training process (communication) is not effective, it can anchor your dog’s progress.

Now, if you’ve completely ruled out the above as a possible cause for your dog’s peeing issue then I would advise this: It’s not unusual for some young dogs to go through a transition period where their bowels react in response to submission. They feel exceptionally humbled inside – relative to other dogs – when they get corrected and sometimes involuntarily release their bowels as a result.

If this is the case with your dog, rest assured that it will change over time as your dog learns the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Dogs with these kinds of personalities (it’s a personality issue, not a breed issue) normally adjust within a matter of days – perhaps a few weeks at the most. When they grasp the fact that all is completely okay as long as they don’t do “this” and “that,” they relax. Their confidence level rises and their emotions stabilize. This doesn’t mean they won’t test the boundaries – believe me, most likely they will! What it does mean is that their bodies cope better because the dogs are mentally clearer about the choices (to obey or not to obey) that are before them on a daily basis.

From a practical point of view, I can also advise you to do most of your focused training outside for the first while until your dog settles in to the new relationship with you and the others in your household. This will at least save your floors!

– Don Sullivan

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