Monday , 11 December 2017

Ask A Trainer: Help! My Bernese Mountain Dog pees on people!

My 90 lb bernese mountain dog is a real sweetheart. He loves everyone – dog and human alike and is very gentle. The problem is, I live in an area with a number of tourists. When they come up to say hello to him (as he attracts a lot of attention), he will be very nice…EXCEPT..sometimes he will PEE ON THEM!!  Can you explain this behaviour and tell me how I can stop it?



Hi Bruce, thanks for writing in with an excellent question!  As we all know, dogs need to urinate to relieve themselves and to mark their territory and pass on their scent.  While lifting a leg against a tree is perfectly normal, witnessing your dog piddle on an unsuspecting person can be quite embarrassing to say the least!

A male dog may urinate on a person for a variety of reasons.  I do not know if your adorable Bernese is a neutered male, nor do I know how old he is.  I also don’t know if he’s lifting a leg to pee onto the persons leg, of if he just squats and piddles on their feet.

If he is intact, he very well might be marking his territory, as many intact males are prone to do, on anything and everything that they deem fit.  He may also be trying to spread his scent, to let everyone around know that Mr Bernese is here.  A lot of canine information is delivered in the scent of their urine.  Other dogs will be able to detect the sex of the dog, if it has been altered or not, its relative age, and its overall health.  So spreading of their scent, especially if that animal has not been altered, is a very important part of being a dog.  The only thing is that it’s not very acceptable to be lifting ones leg onto people.

Some dogs may on also pee people due to submissive urination.  This usually happens as the dog squats to pee, as opposed to lifting their leg to pee.  Some dogs do this when meeting, greeting, or saying goodbye to people.  It can also happen when a dog is being reprimanded for something, or when someone uses a very high pitched voice, or a very deep voice around the dog.  Dogs who do this are usually timid and/or fearful creatures.

Determining the type of ‘People Peeing’ your dog is engaging in will greatly determine the way to deal with it.  Don’t fret, there is hope!

If your dog is intact, and it’s more of a marking his territory type of thing, then neutering your dog would be a wonderful start.  This will help curb his over zealous desire to want to spread his scent onto anything and everything that is vertical, and it will offer a whole other slew of positive effects as well.  Another thing that will help is to hedge him off before it even starts.  We always want to set up our dogs to succeed, so it’s best to offer acceptable alternatives to the unwanted behaviors.

Watch him the next time he greets a person.  When you see him sniffing around their legs, reaching out with his snout to get a good whiff, and then starts to sidle up getting into the perfect Pee Position, this is the time when you need to distract your pooch to deter him.  Ideally, you should offer another behavior as soon as you notice him sniffing around in that special way of his.  Asking him to sit is a wonderful alternative.  You may also remind him with a quick ‘eh-eh’ when you notice the pre pee sniffing, that it’s not acceptable to mark at that time, on that object.

You can also do this on your regular walks as well.  He shouldn’t be the one choosing when and where he’s going to pee and mark.  Those choices should be yours, not his.  So you can also practice this in other places as well.  Most dogs have preferred places they like to pee, so adhering to those spots are helpful.  As an example, I let my male dog mark the hydrant and the tree, but I do not let him mark the tires on a parked car, no matter how interesting it may smell to him.  If I let him pee on everything that he wanted to mark, then it would take us around 30 minutes to make it one block!

If it’s a case of submissive urination, then it’s perfectly all right to ask the people not to squeal, or make the dog too excited.  In these cases, it’s better for the dogs’ self esteem if the dog is the one who approaches the person, as opposed to the person being the one to approach the dog.  But keep in mind that even though a dog may sniff a person, that that doesn’t always mean that he wants to be touched by, or is comfortable with meeting new people.  You should always work with what your dog is comfortable with.

For dogs who are timid and/or fearful it is very important to work with the dogs confidence.  Blending obedience training into the dogs daily routine will help him gain self esteem.  As will enrolling him in a dog sporting course such as Agility or Flyball.

To me, it sounds as if your Bernese is not a timid, fearful fellow, but there are things about the situations that I do not know, and perhaps he’s not comfortable with certain people.  But I would lean more towards his wanting to mark his territory, and wanting to spread his scent as being his motivators to pee onto some people he meets.

I hope that I was able to shed some light for you!  If you have any other questions, feel free to write in and ask!  Thank you, and good luck!

Meira Frankl
Perfect Pet Training

To ask Meira a question, please contact us – and your e-mail may be posted here!

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  1. I have a 6 Y/O neutered male Puggle who has peed on a man’s leg while at the dog park and more recently on a woman’s back while at a dog beach. He also peed on both my Christmas tree skirt & my daughter’s … Otherwise he is the sweetest natured dog ever. What can I do to prevent future markings – especially on people?

    Thank you

  2. My female dog lifts her leg to mark, I totally agree about setting limits – a dog should enjoy their walk in their most enjoyable, natural way, but not every single time they feel like it. I’m glad my girl hasn’t peed on anyone… yet!

  3. Hi

    I have a male rat terrier that my hubby and I rescued.He seemed very timid and frightful from the beginning. We have noticed that he’s great with people but ferocious with other dogs.

    We also noticed and is now becoming a problem him urinating as a cause of probably submission. we’ve been working on it by avoiding excitement or yelling around him and it seemed to get better until this am. I woke up early am around 530 and went to the bathroom, then after o was done I went to living room and had a seat and he jumped on me and I’m thinking he just wants to be pet, but instead HE PEED ON MY THIGH!!!!

    I’m almost done with – pls help.

  4. Hmmmmm, great read. I have a 7 1/2 month old male Collie cross and this morning we went in the yard and I was checking out the pond and next thing there was Urine running down my leg. He only started lift his leg a couple weeks ago. This is the second behaviour he has engaged in to make me up the neutering date I had in mind

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