You might think of dogs as furry children. After all, when they’re puppies they need potty training and constant supervision. But you probably never thought bed wetting would be part of the package too. However, it’s not uncommon for dogs to use their owners’ beds as a toilet. But why do dogs pee on the bed? Is it a message of authority? Or are they getting back at their owners for some perceived injustice? After all, what could be more unpleasant than getting into your bed after a long tiring day and feeling wet sheets?
In truth, neither of those things are the case. Dogs aren’t vindictive and they certainly don’t look at pee from a human point of view. If you’ve ever seen your dog relishing the scent of the local fire hydrant, you know that dogs delight in pee. So, there must be some other motivator. In fact, there are many reasons why dogs pee on the bed and the underlying reason will impact how you deal with the problem.
Dogs Can Have Accidents on the Bed
Particularly in young dogs, potty training accidents are common around the house, and your bed is no exception. If your puppy has not yet learned appropriate and inappropriate places to pee, don’t be surprised if your bed becomes a toilet spot. It’s just as soft and absorbent as the carpet, so from your pup’s point of view, why not?
Accidents are especially likely at night if your puppy is sleeping on the bed with you. Young puppies can’t hold their bladders through the night, so if you don’t get up to take your pup outside for a pee break, a walk to the end of the bed is probably as far as your sleepy dog will travel on their own.
Senior dogs can have accidents too. Incontinence can cause your dog to dribble urine while sleeping on the bed. In addition, cognitive issues can make your dog forget long-held potty-training habits. Again, accidents will likely happen in other places besides the bed.
Dogs Mark With Urine
Not every potty accident is an accident after all. Sometimes dogs use urine to mark objects, including your bed. Studies have shown dogs don’t mark to claim territory, it’s more like graffiti that says, “I was here.” So, they aren’t telling you the bed belongs to them but are more likely adding their scent to a communal space. After all, the sheets are thick with our scent so it’s no wonder dogs want to add their pee-mail to the mix.
Marking is different from bathroom behavior because your dog will only release a small amount of urine rather than emptying their bladder. It tends to be more frequent in intact dogs. Peeing on the bed can also be a common behavior with adolescent dogs who love to test the rules.
Health Issues Can Make Your Dog Pee on the Bed
If your dog has had perfect potty behavior previously but is now peeing on the bed, it’s essential to rule out any health issues. For example, a urinary tract infection is uncomfortable and leads to excessive urination. That makes it difficult for your dog to hold it until going outside. Any change in bathroom behavior can potentially have a physical cause, so rule out any health conditions with a trip to the veterinarian.
Anxiety or Stress Can Lead to Accidents
Your dog may also be peeing on the bed because of emotional issues. A frightened dog will seek a safe spot, such as your bed, but that same fear may cause an accident. Something like fireworks might startle your dog into losing bladder control. Or they may be too scared to leave the bed to go outside.
Separation anxiety is another possible reason for your dog peeing on the bed. Dogs who are distressed when alone will often have accidents in the house. And your bed can be one of those places. In this case, the accidents will likely happen when you’re out of the house. They may also happen when you’re preparing to leave because your dog can predict their coming isolation.
Prevent Your Dog from Peeing on the Bed
The first step to preventing further accidents on the bed is to thoroughly clean your sheets, comforter, and mattress with enzymatic urine cleaner. If your dog is marking or confused about house training, any urine smell that remains will encourage your dog to repeat the behavior. In your dog’s mind, if it smells like a toilet, it must be a toilet.
Once your vet has given your dog a clean bill of health, try some remedial potty training. Prevent your dog from having accidents with constant supervision. Then take your dog to the preferred potty spot whenever they are likely to have to go, such as after meals. Reward your dog with praise and delicious treats for peeing in the right spot. That will go a long way toward encouraging them to restrict their potty behavior to that particular location.
Finally, limit your dog’s access to the bed while you work on the underlying issue, whether that’s potty training 101, confidence boosting for an anxious dog, or counterconditioning and desensitization for fears. Use baby gates, an exercise pen, or a crate to keep your dog out of your bedroom until you know your bed is safe. Supervise your dog, and if you catch your dog about to pee on the bed, calmly interrupt their behavior, then immediately take them to the proper potty spot. Reward them heavily when they finish doing their business.