Why Does My Dog Pee on the Bed?

Many dog owners relate the story of how their beloved pet peed on their bed. A popular explanation is that the dog was doing “spite work” and was peeing or defecating on its owner’s bed because the owner did something that the dog didn’t like.

Dog owners typically prove their case by reporting that after being caught their dog had a “guilty” look because even though he did something really bad, he is remorseful enough to know that he did wrong.

These explanations bestow dogs with characteristics they simply do not have. Humans may feel guilty but dogs do not. For the most part, your dog forgets what he did a few moments after he has done it. Dogs live in the present and most of their behavior is caused by their instinctual behavior – not their brooding intellects.

But many dogs do pee on their owner’s bed. What the explanation?

Several Possible reasons why dogs pee on beds

Dogs go through developmental phases. For example, a young puppy from 6-9 months old is still learning who he is and because he is scared of the world and vulnerable, he may pee where the scent of his own urine is covered by the comforting scent of his owner or master. Dogs know instinctively that other dogs can find them from the scent of their urine and because a young dog doesn’t want to deal with consequences, he may pee where the scent of his owner or protector’s scent is the strongest. This is also the reason why some dog’s will break into the clothes hamper and make off with their owners underwear.

Generally, this kind of behavior will take place after a stressful event. It is very common after a dog was scolded. This is why many dog owners think that their pet is being spiteful. The truth is the dog is very upset and vulnerable and when a dog is in that state he is more likely to make himself feel better by peeing in your bed.

Another reason your dog pees on the bed

Dogs are instinctively programmed to accept the authority of creatures (animal and human) that they consider to be superior to them. They seek the approval of their superiors and are eager to please them. Because most dog owners prefer a dog that is submissive and eager to please, selective breeding has produced many domestic dogs with this characteristic.

But some dogs are more submissive than others. Very submissive dogs, shy dogs that lack self-confidence and often young pups will urinate when in the presence of more dominant dogs and humans.

If your dog is extremely submissive and he happens to be on your bed, his peeing may be an involuntary reaction to his shyness. Hopefully your dog will outgrow this behavior as he gets older. Dogs who are naturally shy, insecure, extremely submissive, or who have been abused may continue to exhibit submission in this way even as adults. It is generally an involuntary, subconscious reflex. The dog isn't deliberately trying to do it. In fact, he probably is not even aware of peeing on the bed.  

Many dog owners mistakenly believe that this type of urination is a housetraining problem, and try to correct it with discipline. But scolding a dog who has peed on your bed will only make the behavior worse! Because the message he's sending is misunderstood by the owner, the dog is caught in a vicious cycle - his instincts tell him to urinate to please his superior by showing submission. But when he does, he is punished. He then tries harder to please by urinating even more. This results in more punishment, and still more urination. After a time, the dog may become so confused and insecure that he urinates at the mere sight of a human being or another dog.

Many dogs that end in dog shelters got there because they exhibited this trait.

If discipline won't solve the problem, what will? The objective is to take the excitement and stress out of the periods that previously triggered submissive urination. When you first get home, you can anticipate that the dog will get excited and urinate so you need to minimize the excitement. Instead of an enthusiastic greeting to your dog, quietly walk in the door and go about your business. Take him outside to pee as usual, but without any fanfare. If you talk to him at all, just use a calm, casual tone of voice. Don't make eye contact with him or pet him. After he settles down, very gently crouch down to his level presenting to him sideways (this makes you very non-threatening), then calmly and quietly praise him and tell him he's good.

Do everything you can to boost your dog's confidence. As he becomes more confident, he may feel less of a need to display extreme submissive behavior:

Bottom line: never scold or punish your dog for urinating submissively. It will only make things worse. He can't be held responsible for something he doesn't understand or even know he's doing. Instead, use these methods to get to the root of the matter: His basic insecurity and lack of confidence. When he's made progress in these areas, submissive urination often disappears on its own. How long will it take? Every dog is different and it's impossible to say for sure. With most dogs, following our directions will show a noticeable difference within a short time. Solving the problem altogether depends on your hard work, patience, consistency and willingness to stick with it. Good luck!