When your dog urinates in the house again or “asks” to be taken out every 10 minutes when you have friends visiting, only to pee a little, your first reaction is most probably frustration. Then, you start to wonder whether your dog uses its peeing routine mainly to get your attention.
Some dogs do pee in the house to get your attention, and others compete for attention by trying to take you away from your human friends. But there could be other reasons for this behavior, which include factors like bad weather conditions as well as behavioral and health issues. You’ll have to determine whether your dog is seeking attention or has other problems.
In this article, I’ll discuss how you know whether your dog uses peeing as a tool to get your attention and how to rectify it. I’ll also look at what to consider before concluding that the peeing is solely to get attention.
How to Know When It’s Attention-Seeking Behavior
There are various indicators to alert you if your dog is seeking attention, and one of them is unacceptable peeing routines.
Peeing in the House When You Are Home
Sometimes dog owners forget that a pee-walk is much more for the dog than only a time to relieve itself — dogs experience it as a time of special attention.
When your dog “asks” to go out, it is not necessarily only to pee or relieve itself. In human terms, we could say your dog is longing for your sole attention. After the walk, your dog is normally relaxed and satisfied and takes a nap.
When you don’t act on your dog’s signals to go out, it can easily regress to urinating in the house again. This will happen mainly when you are also in the house as your dog will experience the reprimand as attention. So, yes, your dog could use peeing in the house to get your attention.
To rectify this behavior, try to take your dog for a walk every time it signals that it wants to go out. If time is a factor, cut the walk short, and don’t worry if your dog doesn’t even pee. If you don’t have the time to go out and are sure your dog does not have an urgent need to pee, just cuddle and play with your dog for a few minutes.
Taking You Away from Your Human Companions for Pee-Walks
Some dogs may experience a loss of attention if you socialize with friends and family and “ignore” them during that time. The only way your dog knows to get your sole attention is to go out with you to pee.
This results in your dog signaling every 10 to 15 minutes that it wants to go out. When you’re outside, it doesn’t pee and just wants to walk around. But it has resolved its problem — it has your attention! So, yes, again, your dog could use his pee-routine to get your attention.
To rectify this, you can train your dog to take a nap in the same room where you are socializing, and when it indicates it needs to go out, just cuddle your dog or stroke its head.
What to Rule Out
While it is relatively easy to rectify unacceptable peeing if it is a result of seeking attention, there are a variety of other factors influencing a dog’s peeing habits. To determine whether your dog is peeing to get your attention, first rule out other possible behavior, health, and training reasons for its unacceptable peeing habits.
Behavioral reasons for out-of-the-ordinary peeing could include territorial marking, peeing as a result of excitement, and even bad weather.
Marking is when a dog urinates on upright objects. Usually, when a dog is marking, the volume of urine is small. Most male dogs, and even some female dogs who scent marks, raise a leg to urinate (source).
Dogs may mark territory for several reasons. Generally, the main reason is hormonally related to keeping other dogs from entering the area. This is not seen as a sign to get more attention.
Some dogs may urinate when receiving attention. Veterinarians make a distinction between submissive and excitement urination.
Submissive urination occurs when a person approaches and reaches out to punish the dog physically. The dog not only urinates but might also show other signs of submission, like avoiding eye contact. This is not regarded as an attention-seeking signal.
Excitement urination, which is also not seen as asking for attention, is related to submissive urination. Still, the stimulus that leads to peeing is excitement, like greeting and giving affection to the dog (source).
When a dog is experiencing anxiety as a result of external factors, like thunderstorms or fireworks, it could pee involuntarily. Normally, urinating will be only one symptom of anxiety. The dog could also become aggressive and restless (source).
When your dog is in such an anxious state, it will help if you give attention to calm it down, but the peeing as such is not a signal for more attention.
Resistance to Bad Weather
When there are uncomfortable conditions outside the house, such as very cold, hot, or rainy weather, your dog might find your rug more comfortable to pee on than to go outside. If this only happens occasionally, you don’t have to worry that your dog is seeking attention.
The most important health condition causing urination problems by dogs is kidney failure. If detected in time, it can be treated, but if it has already gone to stage IV, the dog’s life could be in danger. Uncontrolled urination patterns are one of the first symptoms that indicate kidney failure.
When your dog starts to pee in the house again or goes outside to pee every few minutes, it could be as a result of Stage I renal failure. Before putting it off as your dog’s way of getting your attention, take the dog to the veterinarian for tests (source).
Once medical causes have been ruled out, and it seems as if behavioral aspects are causing the unacceptable peeing patterns, you have to look at your training, rewarding, and reprimanding procedures.
It might be that your dog is not looking for attention but has been trained incorrectly or for a too short period. In most cases, peeing problems can be solved by completing a quick house training refresher (source).
Your dog’s peeing habits could be a way to get your attention, but you have to look at other or additional causes for the change in urination habits as well. A visit to the veterinarian should always be the first step.
After it has been determined that it is not a health problem, you can look at behavioral and other possibilities. Only then will you know whether you’ve neglected your dog and take steps to rectify it.