TTouch helps end submissive urination

Maggie doesn't piddle in fear any more

When I moved into my fiancé's place in December, I was excited and nervous about building our life together. I knew there would be many changes and challenges, but the rewards would always be worth the compromise. What I hadn't anticipated was that our first challenge would be Maggie, my 15-month-old Shih Tzu.

Maggie was wonderful and affectionate and loving with me, but Eric was used to big dogs — Golden Retrievers to be specific. Eric said that when we moved into a bigger house, he was going to get a "real dog. While Eric was very good to Maggie, I know she had to sense that she wasn't measuring up.

This atmosphere in the new house created some new behaviors for Maggie. Not only would she exhibit submissive urination when we came home or when someone new arrived, but sometimes Eric would call her name and she would just start peeing wherever she was. This created a lot of stress for Maggie and for Eric and me as well. I was anxious to have everything go well upon moving in, and this little black dog urinating all over Eric's white carpet was not conducive to a heavenly home. I was becoming defensive of Maggie and angry with Eric for having such an effect on my dog.

Eric really did try to work through it. We tried everything we could think of: having Eric and Maggie spend more play time together, soft voices, etc. -- but nothing worked. Then I ran into my friend Susan Spalter who does Tellington Touch. I had forgotten all about this work. This would be perfect. And there would be nothing to lose. Things were stressful and I didn't want to be in a position to choose between my dog and my future husband.

I told Eric about Tellington Touch and how I thought Susan could help us, but I would need his full commitment for three weeks. He was willing to try. So off we went for three sessions, one each week, in January. Susan lives more than 25 miles away and I looked forward to the journey every time. The payback was immediate.

Susan shared the simple touches with us. When Susan tried to demonstrate the touches on Maggie, she started out squirmy and wasn't too cooperative. But by the second day of doing the touches at home, she would sit still patiently and let the magic happen.

Susan's advice that only Eric do the touches for the first couple of weeks really paid off. The first week, Eric spent 10-15 minutes twice each day working with Maggie. The relationship between the two changed dramatically. They became buddies. Maggie would hang out near Eric's feet, and he was much more inclined to be affectionate with her. The submissive urination didn't go away the first week, but it did decrease. We still had problems when we returned home and when guests arrived.

The second week we learned more touches and had a bigger repertoire to pull from. By now, I could join in the TTouch practice sessions, but Eric still needed to be active. We were still doing two 10-minute sessions per day. We also started working with Maggie on her commands and introduced new tricks such as “rollover.” It was fun for all of us.

In addition, Susan suggested that I ignore Maggie for 10-15 minutes after I return home from work. This time would give Maggie a chance to gain control of herself while she was still in her crate. Susan also suggested that we document every incident of submissive urination. It sounded silly but it was incredibly helpful. We realized that Eric though that Maggie was very unreliable and my impression was that she almost never had a problem. The documentation clearly showed that her behavior was somewhere in-between.

By the third week, the submissive urination had almost stopped. We cut back to three days a week for the TTouch sessions. Today we still have little challenges with submissive urination when I return from a long business trip or when we have a new guest with a loud voice. Whenever these stresses op up, Eric and I have confidence in the Tellington Touch process to spend a couple of days a week doing touch sessions and we're back on solid -- and dry -- ground. Best of all, Maggie loves it.

Interested in finding out more on TTouch? features these selections:

The Tellington TTouch : A Revolutionary Natural Method to Train and Care for Your Favorite Anima;l Linda Tellington-Jones,/Paperback/1995
The Tellington TTouch for Happier, Healthier Dogs, featuring Linda Tellington-Jones
Kelly Hart/VHS Tape/ (n/a)
Don't forget to search Dogwise for Tellington Touch books Too!
[Susan Spalter's page on Tellington Touch]
Brenda Villa

This page is a part of the Dog Owner's Guide internet website and is copyright 2021 by Canis Major Publications. You may print or download this material for non-commercial personal or school educational use. All other rights reserved. If you, your organization or business would like to reprint our articles in a newsletter or distribute them free of charge as an educational handout please see our reprint policy.

We will be modifying the Dog Owner's Guide site with new and updated articles in 2021 as well as new booklists so check back often to see what's new!

Contact us