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As puppies, dogs need potty training and constant supervision. But you probably never thought bed wetting would be part of the package, too. You may have asked yourself, “Why do dogs pee on beds?” Is it a message of authority? Are they getting back at their owners somehow?
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 enjoying the scent of the local fire hydrant, you know that dogs delight in smelling pee. In fact, there are many reasons why dogs pee on the bed. The underlying reason will impact how you deal with the problem.
Why Do Dogs Pee on Beds?: Possible Causes
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, a common place for potty accidents.
If your puppy sleeps on the bed with you, they may have an accident at night. 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 in dogs can cause them 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, too.
Marking With Urine
Sometimes dogs use urine to mark objects, including your bed. Studies have shown dogs don’t mark to claim territory. Instead, marking is more like graffiti that says, “I was here.”
Your dog isn’t telling you the bed belongs to them. Instead, they 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 scent 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. Marking tends to be more common in intact dogs, too. Peeing on the bed can also be a common behavior with adolescent dogs who love to test the rules.
Underlying Health Issues
If your dog once had perfect potty behavior but is now peeing on the bed, it’s essential to rule out any underlying health issues. For example, a urinary tract infection is uncomfortable and leads to frequent urination. That makes it difficult for your dog to hold their pee until they go 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
Your dog may also be peeing on the bed because of emotional issues. A frightened dog will look for a safe spot, such as your bed, but that same fear may cause an accident. Loud noises like fireworks might startle your dog into losing bladder control. Alternatively, they may be too scared to leave the bed to go outside.
Dog separation anxiety is another possible cause of 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 that they’ll be alone for a period of time.
How to Stop a Dog Peeing on the Bed
After answering the question “Why do dogs pee on beds?” it’s time to work on preventing accidents. The first step 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. 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 dog gates, an exercise pen, or a dog crate to keep them out of your bedroom until you know your bed is safe.
Supervise your dog. If you catch them 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.