Overcoming Fearful Peeing: Understanding and Helping Your Furry Friend

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It’s messy, it smells, and when our dogs do it, it’s all too easy to think our furry best friend is being naughty. Yes, I’m talking about when our dogs pee in the house! It might surprise you to know that a dog pees when scared.

It’s quite a common behavior!

Dogs don’t choose their fears, they are often the product of past experiences or genetics. As such, it’s not helpful or productive to scold or punish a dog for fear-based urination.

Furthermore, fear-based urination can be an indication of a bigger problem, such as separation anxiety or past trauma.

Understanding the reason a dog pees when scared is crucial for providing the best possible care for our furry friends.

So, let’s make it a priority to learn about this strange behavior and take steps to stop it from getting out of hand.

Understanding Fear in Dogs

Different Types of Fear

Dogs experience fear just like humans do, but they do not express it in the same ways.

There are different types of fear that a dog may experience, such as fear of loud noises, fear of strangers, fear of separation, and more.

These fears may stem from past trauma or lack of proper socialization during their puppyhood.

A fearful dog will show signs such as shaking, pacing, hiding, and even aggression to protect themselves.

One type of fear is separation anxiety, where a dog becomes fearful when left alone or separated from their owner.

In some cases, this type of fear can be so severe that it causes a dog to develop destructive behaviors like chewing on furniture or howling for hours when left alone.

Another common type of fear in dogs is the fear of loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks.

Dogs with this phobia will often display behavior such as trembling uncontrollably and hiding under furniture or in small spaces.

The Physiological Response to Fear

When a dog experiences fear, it triggers a physiological response within their body, including the release of adrenaline and cortisol.

Dogs around a puddle of pee

Adrenaline is produced by the adrenal glands, and it helps prepare them for the fight-or-flight response by increasing their heart rate and blood flow to muscles.

Cortisol, which is released by the adrenal cortex, helps regulate blood sugar levels while suppressing the immune system response.

This physiological state helps explain why dogs exhibit certain behaviors when they are scared – they are responding instinctively to protect themselves from danger.

This explains why some dogs may urinate involuntarily when they become frightened – it’s just another instinctive reaction!

Why A Dog Pees When Scared?

Loss of Bladder Control Due To Increased Adrenaline

When a dog experiences intense fear or dog anxiety, their adrenal glands produce more adrenaline than usual.

Adrenaline increases heart rate and breathing rate while also constricting blood vessels throughout the body except for those supplying major muscles; this redirection limits bleeding if an injury occurs during an escape from danger.

The increase in adrenaline levels leads to decreased activity of smooth muscle tissue found within urinary tract structures such as ureters (tubes carrying urine from kidneys) and urethra (tube carrying urine out).

As this muscle tissue becomes less active over time due primarily to dysregulation caused by stressors like anxiety/fear responses), it becomes easier for urine to flow out even without the animal’s control.

Situations That Cause Urination Due to Fear

There are several situations that can cause dogs to be scared enough to pee involuntarily.

One of the most common sources of fear for dogs is loud and unexpected noises like thunderstorms or fireworks.

Dogs have more sensitive hearing than humans, and these noises can be incredibly overwhelming for them.

Another source of fear for dogs is being in an unfamiliar environment.

A dog may experience anxiety in a new place because it does not know what to expect and feels unsafe or vulnerable.

dachshund peed on the floor

This could happen when visiting a new place, taking a road trip, or staying at a boarding kennel. Dogs may also become fearful when they encounter strangers.

Fear aggression is often triggered by fear, which leads to defensive behavior such as growling, barking, biting -and urinating.

Understanding why a dog pees when scared requires us to consider factors like physiology, psychology and environmental influences on our furry friends’ behavior during times of stress or anxiety.

Helping Your Pup Overcome Fearful Peeing

The Science of Desensitization Training

When it comes to helping your dog overcome fear-based urination, desensitization training is an incredibly effective technique.

This involves exposing your dog to the scary stimulus gradually, in a controlled environment, until they no longer feel anxious or scared around it.

 If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, you might start by playing recordings of thunder at a low volume while offering treats and praise.

Gradually increase the volume over time as your dog becomes more comfortable. This technique can be used for any type of fear-based behavior.

The Power of Pheromone Sprays

Another helpful tool in helping dogs overcome fear-based urination is pheromone sprays.

These products mimic the scent that mother dogs produce to calm their puppies, which can have a calming effect on adult dogs as well.

When sprayed in areas where your dog spends time (such as their bed or crate), these sprays can help reduce anxiety and prevent pee accidents.

Consistency is Key

It’s important to remember that helping your dog overcome fear-based urination takes time and patience. Consistency is key when it comes to desensitization training and other behavior modification techniques.

Make sure you’re following through with training sessions regularly and using positive reinforcement consistently to reward brave behavior.

Don’t Punish Fearful Behavior

One common mistake that many pet owners make when dealing with fearful dogs is punishing them for their behavior.

dog pees when scared, dog being told off about peeing

This can actually make things worse by making your dog more anxious and fearful overall. Instead, focus on rewarding good behavior (such as calmness around scary stimuli) and setting up positive associations (such as offering treats or playtime after successful desensitization sessions).

Work with a Professional

If your dog’s fear-based urination is severe or persistent, it may be time to seek professional help.

A veterinary behaviorist or certified dog trainer can help you develop an effective behavior modification plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it – your furry friend deserves the best care possible. Helping your pup overcome fear-based urination is an important part of being a responsible pet owner.

When Fear-Based Urination May Indicate a Bigger Problem

Fear-based urination can be a normal and natural response for some dogs in certain situations.

However, excessive or persistent fear-based urination can be a sign of an underlying medical or behavioral issue that needs to be addressed.

As a conscientious pet owner, it is vital to identify the signs that your dog’s fear-based urination may indicate a larger issue.

Medical Issues

Incontinence, bladder infections, and other urinary tract problems can all lead to increased urination in dogs.

If you notice that your dog pees frequently, even when not scared, or if they seem to have difficulty controlling their bladder, it may be time to seek veterinary care.

It’s also worth stating that some medications and medical treatments can actually cause increased urination in dogs.

If your pet recently started taking a new medication or undergoing treatment for another condition, speak with your veterinarian about potential side effects.

Behavioral Issues

While medical issues are one potential cause of excessive fear-based urination in dogs, it’s important not to overlook the role that behavior can play.

Fear and anxiety are common causes of behavior problems in pets, including inappropriate elimination.

In some cases, fear-based urination may be a sign that your dog is struggling with separation anxiety or another form of anxiety disorder.

It’s also possible that your dog has not been properly trained on appropriate elimination habits.

If they were never taught where it is appropriate to go potty or were punished for eliminating indoors as puppies, this may have led to fear-related elimination issues down the line.

Treatment Options

The most effective treatment for excessive fear-based urination will depend on the underlying cause of the problem.

For medical issues like incontinence or bladder infections, treating the underlying condition may be enough to resolve the problem.

For behavioral issues, a combination of training and behavior modification techniques may be necessary.

This could include desensitization exercises to help your dog become more comfortable in scary situations, as well as positive reinforcement training to reinforce good elimination habits.

Final Thoughts

Fear-based urination is an issue that can be frustrating for both pet owners and their furry friends.

While it’s important to be understanding of dogs who are scared and unsure, it’s also important not to ignore excessive or persistent fear-based urination.

Dog pees when scared - dog peed on the carpet

By addressing underlying medical or behavioral issues and working with your dog on appropriate elimination habits, you can help them feel more confident and comfortable in any situation.

Remember that patience, consistency, and compassion are key when it comes to helping your furry friend overcome their fears.


All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.

Jen Smart

Transforming anxious pups with her wealth of hands-on practical experience, and qualified in the following disciplines: Holistic Healing, Canine Anxiety & Therapy, Zoopharmacognosy, and CBD Oil for Animals

Founder of Anxious Canine and proud member of the Complementary Medical Association.

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