How to Build Confidence in a Doberman Who Urinates When Excited

By: Adam Podraza

Published Date: June 22, 2017

By: Sam Kanouse

Harlan is a six-month-old, female Doberman Pincher puppy who lives in Omaha. Her guardians called to set up a dog behavior training session with us to get Harlan to stop nipping and biting and calm down so she stops urinating submissively.

Harlan was an excited dog when she greeted me at the door; pushing through the door, circling around and so excited she urinated. After the excited urination, she quickly settled down with much calmer energy.

During this greeting, I refrained from petting or interacting with the dog as excited urination is correlated with dogs being in an overexcited state of mind. A good approach for a dog with this behavior problem is to completely ignore them when you or guests enter the home. Any petting or interaction is only going to increase the excitement.

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to dogs. While Harlan looks like an adult Doberman, she is still very much a puppy. While its understandable that her guardians were concerned that the puppy nipped one of their children, some of her nipping and biting were puppy behavioral issues and not aggressive adult behavior.

Upon further digging, I learned that the child who was nipped was holding the dog by the snout and staring it down. While the child had no ill intent, in dog language a direct stare can be interpreted as a challenge. If the dog wants to avoid challenging, they would naturally look away. But with the child preventing that from happening, the dog went to the next step, a nip.

This is a classic example of how important it is for parents to educate their children on proper dog interaction. Now that everyone is aware of how this interaction was problematic, the humans can use it as a teaching moment and celebrate that their dog behaved so well. That may sound wrong as the dog did nip, but we have worked with many dogs who would have reacted far more strongly.

The family and I chatted for a while about Harlan’s daily life and what types of rules she had. It turned out that Harlan didn’t have a lot of rules in place, which can result in a dog to seeing itself as a leader of the family rather than the guardians. I suggested a number of exercises and rules to put in place which will help Harlan to see herself as the follower and her guardians as the leaders, as well as building up her confidence.

One of the things that we went over was a leadership exercise which allows the dog to learn self control and helps her guardians practice non-verbal communication with the dog.

For dog’s, distance and proximity can impact the intensity of their reaction. A simple dog behavior trick that I have learned is to increase the distance between the dog and whatever it is reacting to in order to help the dog learn to settle down.

A great way to utilize this dog training tip is to train your dog to stay behind an invisible boundary 10 feet or so away from the door. I demonstrate this in the video below.

By increasing the distance between Harlan and the door and breaking the activity down into small individual steps I was able to train the dog to behave the way that the family wanted.

By changing the dynamics in the home, it made it easy for Harlan to respect the area around the door. This was a “warm” example, meaning that the dog was warmed up due to repeated practice repetitions. In order for Harlan to continue this good behavior on her own, the guardians will need to practice this exercise over and over again. It is best to practice with family members to reduce stress of an actual guest at the door until Harlan is very comfortable with this exercise.

As you see in the video, each step of opening the door is repeated until Harlan is comfortable behind the foyer boundary: knocking on the door, jiggling the door handle, opening the door, and greeting the guests. This is what I mean by breaking the activity down into small individual steps.

The exercises that I introduced during the session, combined with the rules and structure and sufficient exercise should allow Harlan to adopt a follower’s mindset which should help Harlan stop nipping, stop biting, and stop excited urination at the door.

We wrapped up this session with their Roadmap to Success video which you can watch below.

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