Why Does My Dog Pee on My Bed?

It's probably not why you think...

By Rebecca Newell | Dog Behaviour

A quick guide to why your dog pees on your bed - and what to do about it

Has your dog started peeing on the bed and you’re not sure what to do? Don’t get too angry with him – he’s not doing it to get back at you! Here are the most common reasons this problem develops, plus some tips on how to stop it.

There’s no doubt about it: having a dog that pees on your bed can be a very frustrating and unpleasant habit. Plus (as we’ll see), the more times it happens the more likely it is to continue. But don’t worry, this problem can be fixed!

4 Reasons Your Dog Pees on the Bed

The first step to prevention is understanding why your dog is doing it. Like all dog behaviours, there can be a variety of causes which will differ from dog to dog. Below are some of the most common reasons.

1. Poor Bladder Control

A dog’s bladder control can be affected for several reasons.

Young puppies have very small bladders and can’t be expected to hold on long. Even those that understand the concept of house training can still have accidents. And unless you’re giving your puppy regular chances to “go” they’ll do it wherever they happen to be!

If you need help with house training here is a link to a great video that shows how to house train a puppy using positive methods:

At the other end of the scale, elderly dogs are prone to diseases such as urinary tract infections or diabetes. These can increase the urgency and amount of urine they produce.

If you’re concerned about the frequency your dog is urinating take them to see a vet. Often the right treatment can help them gain control over their bladder and more importantly diagnose any underlying health issues.

2. Scent and Reinforcement

Ever noticed your dog has particular places he pees in the park or garden (or your bed if you’re reading this article!)

This is because the more a place smells of his/her urine, the more a dog links it to going to the toilet.

Bedding is difficult to wash thoroughly, especially if it has been absorbed into your mattress. Remember your dog’s sense of smell can be up to 100,000 times more powerful than your own, so even if it smells clean to you, chances are it still smells like urine to your dog!

Dogs may urinate as a sign of anxiety

3. Submissive Urination

Dogs that are timid or overly anxious may display submissive urination. If this is the case, just having a person approach them can trigger them to pee.

This is usually accompanied by submissive body language such as rolling onto their back and exposing their stomach. Both peeing and this posture are an attempt to appease the person who may be perceived as a threat.

This is why the behaviour can become worse if the dog is punished or scolded for peeing on the bed.

4. Separation Anxiety

Do you ever come home to find your dog has peed on the bed? This could be a sign of separation anxiety.

Dogs are sociable creatures – we have bred them to form strong attachments to us.

If a dog suffers from separation anxiety they become extremely distressed whenever their owner leaves the house.

Whilst you are away, they may become destructive, bark or howl excessively, continuously pace and defecate. You may also notice signs of agitation or depression as you are preparing to leave the house.

The extreme anxiety they feel being left on their own can trigger them to urinate- and if your bed happens to be the place they are hiding at the time, you’re going to come home to a wet bed.

The MYTHS About Dogs Peeing on the Bed

There are some common misconceptions as to why dogs pee on furniture. These tend to be linked with anthropomorphism (imagining your dog has the same thoughts as feelings as a human.)

So the following are NOT reasons your dog pees on your bed:

  • To get back at you for leaving them/something you did to them earlier. As smart as dogs are, they are not capable of plotting revenge or holding grudges.
  • They are trying to be dominant over you. Yes, urination can be used to mark territory but this tends to be aimed at other animals that reside with you. Or your dog may be particularly worried about ‘intruders’ coming into the house. This tends to be obvious because they react and bark to hearing people coming towards the house, see them through the window and become agitated when they enter.

So What Can You do About It?

The solution to stopping your dog peeing on the bed depends on the underlying cause. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Don’t allow them on your bed. This sounds obvious but is the only instant solution! This might not work if you live in a studio apartment though – and the dog my also start urinating in other areas of the house if you don’t solve the problem.
  2. If you have a young or rescue dog make sure they are fully house trained before allowing them access of the whole house.
  3. Praise your dog and give them a treat for going to the toilet in the appropriate place.
  4. Don’t punish your dog. This can exacerbate the behaviour – especially if they are doing it out of anxiety.
  5. Watch for signs your dog is about to pee on your bed – sniffing and circling are common – and calmly interrupt the behaviour. Get them to follow you to the place you want them to go.
  6. Take your dog to the vet if it’s a new behaviour to rule out infection or health issues
  7. See a behaviourist if you believe your dog is doing it because he’s stressed or suffering from separation anxiety.

Summary

If your dog pees on the bed, there’s no need to panic. By working out what’s causing your dog to perform this behaviour and taking some preventative measures, it’s nearly always possible to stop it from happening.

The key thing to remember is that your dog isn’t being vindictive or trying to upset you. He might be anxious, have poor bladder control, suffer from separation anxiety or just doesn’t know better – so scolding is unlikely to help.

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There are several reasons for this behaviour

About the Author

Rebecca is a professional dog trainer currently working for Guide Dogs UK. She also has a passion for animal welfare. In her free time, she loves taking long walks with her cavapoo and husband.