Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."
What's Up With Dogs Peeing on Your Bed?
So, your dog wets the bed, huh? Welcome to pet parenthood! Just when you thought being a dog owner meant you wouldn’t have to deal with the trials and tribulations of damp sheets when your little (or big) fur baby climbs into bed with you, you’re mistaken.
To understand why your dog pees on your bed, you need to pick your dog's brain and perceive the world from his perspective. Once you take a walk in your dog's shoes, things start making more sense. Dogs may pee on your bed for various reasons, so let's take a closer look into possible dynamics.
And remember, whether a young pup or an elder statesman, your dog doesn’t do this out of spite or malice. Dog's don't think this way! Dogs instead need all your love and understanding to get through this.
1. Medical Maladies
If your dog is not able to hold it, the culprit could be one of a number of medical problems, from the more severe like Cushing’s disease, to achy joints and backs, to a much simpler illness like bladder stones or a UTI.
While all of these should, of course, be taken seriously—get thee to the vet if you suspect any of these are an issue—they shouldn’t scare you. Most can be treated, fortunately.
Not unlike their humans, dogs suffer the same urgency and burning sensation associated with a UTI, so they’ll probably resort to excessive licking of their private areas and avoid going outside to do their business. Which, unfortunately, means they’re more likely to relieve themselves indoors.
It's certainly not an ideal situation, but if you notice any of these related symptoms and if the bed-wetting continues, seek medical attention for your fur baby.
If they’ve increased their water intake, that can also mean more frequent bathroom trips. Increased drinking and increased urination indeed go hand in hand. If they’ve been on steroids like prednisone recently, this could also be a factor.
For older female dogs, be aware that if she’s spayed, she could be suffering from Primary Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence (PSMI). This just means that the hormones that help control her bladder have weakened over time since the loss of her ovaries and she may wet the bed in her sleep.
Again, have a chat with your vet if this might be an issue as the issue can be easily fixed with medications.
So to recap, here is a list of possible medical causes known for causing a dog to potentially pee on your bed. Of course, there may be many more not listed here.
Medical Causes That May Trigger Dogs to Pee on Your Bed
- Urinary tract infections
- Presence of bladder stones or urinary crystals
- Kidney infections
- Cushing's disease
- Joint Problems
- Spinal problems
- Mobility issues in older dogs
- Diabetes mellitus
- Primary Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence in spayed female dogs
- Side effects from taking steroids such as prednisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone.
2. The Role of Hormones
If your pup isn’t spayed or neutered, then they’re more likely to fall victim to increased hormonal shifts. Dogs of a certain age like to mark their territory (outside on a walk, or inside the house) for the purpose of spreading their pee-mail.
It also signals to other pups in the hood that they are ready and willing to get to breeding. This is often the case with female dogs who are in heat. After all, she can’t make puppies by herself!
You may notice that boys tend to lift their leg to mark locations, while girls squat, but this isn’t exclusively gender-assigned.
Talk about peeing positions: Did you know that Sprague and Anisko, in a study conducted in 1973, were capable of recognizing 12 peeing positions in dogs? Variety is the spice of life when dogs get to dogs sprinkling their pee mail!
So if your dog pees on your bed, consider the role of hormones. Even though you may not have other dogs around, the instinct to use canine social media still remains strong.
Is My Dog Really Urine Marking My Bed?
- Age of onset: most urine marking in male dogs starts anywhere between 6 months to a year in age.
- The amount deposited is less than emptying the bladder. Expect to find just a small trickle.
- Male dogs will be typically sniffing the area and then lifting the leg
- Females may sniff the area and then squat
- Females are usually in heat
- Context: the behavior tends to be triggered by the sight and smells of other animals or dogs
- Consider that even altered male and female dogs urine mark too!
- Here's more detailed information to differentiate the two: is my dog urinating or urine marking?
3. The Role of Emotions
Like us, our fur babies have a wide range of emotions and react to situations accordingly. Sometimes that means a little dribble might escape.
There are emotions and emotions in dogs, so let's take a look at some dynamics. The key is to pay attention to the context in which this peeing-on-the- bed behavior occurs and body language: both yours and your dogs'.
A Case of Excitement Urination
Does your pup greet you when you come home after a long day of work with lots of kisses and cuddles? If they’re on the bed and they just can’t wait to see you, they might accidentally wet the bed.
A Case of Submissive Urination
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re taking a stern or scolding tone with your dog and they happen to be on the bed and have an accident, that might be due to stress or fear.
You are more likely to see this especially with young puppies (more on that down below).
A Case of Fear or Stress
And of course, if your pup is scared by other dogs, people or scary noises (I can’t think of a dog who enjoys fireworks), that might also be the cause of the messes in bed.
So once again, evaluate what may be going on in your pup's life. If you have a new guest and your dog keeps on peeing on his bed, most likely he's not comfortable around him and his pee is his way of making things smell comfortable again. If you recently moved, the stress of the move may also trigger dogs to have accidents on the bed due to moving.
A Case of Incomplete House Training
If your fur baby is still new to the family and hasn’t finished potting training, maybe keeping them off the bed is a good idea. After all, it’s up to you to make sure they are able to hold it at night and only go when they are outside.
Keep working with them on this and before you know it, they’ll be snuggling with you in bed without issue. However, not always things may go as hoped.
What is Incomplete House Training in Dogs?
Sometimes dogs may struggle in the potty training department due to inconsistencies. Perhaps these dogs are left alone in the home for too long or the owners weren't home long enough to successfully potty train them.
Incomplete house training means the dog never really gets fully potty trained and has a tendency to relapse. This is called incomplete house training.
But when are dogs truly considered fully house trained? In general, we expect dogs to fully house trained when they haven't had any accidents for at least two months.
12 Practical Hacks to Stop Your Dog From Peeing in Your Bed
As seen, there are many reasons your pup may be having accidents in bed. Pay attention to what they’re telling and showing you to help figure out how best to help them. Here are 12 practical hacks to stop your dog from peeing in your bed.
1) Stop By the Vet
Medical illnesses such as UTIs, bladder issues or even reactions to steroids could be the culprit. Check in with your vet to make sure your dog getting all the care they need. This should be always the first step when dealing with inappropriate urination in dogs (urinating in areas they shouldn't) to play it safe.
2) Alter Your Dog
Unless you are planning on breeding your dog and your dog has champion lines, your dog may be better off altered. Sure, spaying and neutering your fur baby may seem drastic or painful, but in the long run, it’s better for everyone.
Fewer surprises for you (and not just that damp spot in the middle of the night, but also potentially life-threatening health problems such as pyometra in female dogs and testicular cancer in male dogs).
According to veterinary behaviorists Dr. Debra Horwitz & Dr. Gary Landsberg, DVM, Diplomate neutering will reduce marking behavior in more than 80 percent of male dogs, but will only eliminate it in about 40 percent of dogs (most likely because there's a learned behavior component too). Spaying female dogs also helps reduce urine marking during estrus (during her heat cycle).
3) Tone Down the Emotions
If your puppy has been peeing on the bed right when you come home from work, you might want to try calling him to and greet him outside before you have your daily snuggle fest to avoid having to do extra laundry. Fortunately, with time, excitement urination in puppies tends to subside once puppies learn to better control their emotions.
If your puppy pees when you look at them directly, loom down to pet him or say hello while he's on the bed, you are likely dealing with a case of dog submissive urination which is particularly common in young puppies.
Fortunately, most puppies outgrow this form of urination and they gain more confidence. In the meanwhile, rather than looming over your puppy, crouch down to his level. Avoid giving direct eye contact and scolding your puppy.
4) Avoid Punishment-Based Methods
Sometimes, dogs may pee on the bed because they have associated peeing on the floor with punishment. Avoid scolding your puppy for peeing anywhere in the house, (even an emotional "no!" can be too much for a soft dog), no pushing the puppy's face in pee, no swatting with a newspaper. All these methods only teach your puppy that you are scary and next time your puppy will hide to pee and poop or will go on the bed when you're not looking.
5) Invest in Calming Aids
If you suspect your dog is peeing on the bed due to anxiety, you can try some calming aids. For example, if your dog is scared of noises, buffer sounds using white noise such as a TV or radio turned or play a calming CD made just for dogs.
There are many calming aids available over the counter nowadays such as DAP collars and diffusers, Back Flowers and calming chews for dogs made of L-theanine. If your dog has severe anxiety, ask your vet for something stronger.
6) Go Back to Basics
Make sure to finish that house training with your new puppy. Everyone will thank you and you will be rewarded with good house manners for years to come. I like to call it a great "liquid investment". It's a lot of hard work at first, but you gain a lot in the long run.
Have an older dog who could benefit from a potty-training refresher? Don’t be afraid to revisit the basics with them. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks (well, actually you can, but I just wanted to use this expression!), but reminding them of ones they already know can never hurt.
Go back to basics, supervising them and showing them that going potty outside is the best thing on earth. Praise and reward for going potty outside and while you're at it, aim to train your dog to go potty on command.
7) Prevent Access to the Bed
This is a no-brainer, right? Yet, the solution is so easy, yet too many dog owners fail to even consider it. Close the bedroom door or place bulky items on the bed when you are not occupying it so that your dog is less tempting to climb up and pee.
8) Clean Up Accidents Correctly
There are ways and ways of cleaning accidents on the bed. If you leave any traces behind or use the wrong products, your dog will keep going there because the bed smells like a bathroom to him.
Avoid at all costs any ammonia-based products (the ammonia smells just like urine to dogs) and invest instead in an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature's Miracle.
Oh, and here's a little secret if you don't want to miss any spots. You know those cool black lights that are used to look for scorpions? These can help you spot any soiled areas you may have missed. Urine under a black light becomes a bright fluorescent color at night so that you can detect them and clean them up properly
9) Give a Place to Call His Own
Give your fur baby their own space to sleep. Cuddling is wonderful, but there is such a thing as too much togetherness. Having their own space to sleep at night can be much less of a headache for you in the morning. You may find it helpful to train your dog to sleep on a mat.
10) Reduce Late Evening Water Intake
If you just can’t sleep without your pup curled up on your feet at night and they’re healthy, ask your vet if you can restrict fluid intake before bed and make sure they’ve emptied their bladder before bed.
11) Give a Bathroom Break
Does your dog have a pee accident in the bed in the middle of the night? Take your dog out in the middle of the night for a potty break. Your dog's bladder and your bed sheets will thank you.
12) Invest in Belly Bands
OK, this is just a management tool and not meant to be used forever. If you have a male dog who likes to mark things over and over, a belly band can save your sanity for a bit of time.
Belly bands consist of a garment consists made of an outer waterproof layer that wraps around your dog's midsection, absorbing any pee produced so that you don't need to clean up messes.
Consult With a Pro
If you find that none of these suggestions resolve your pup’s peeing on the bed problem, seek guidance from a dog behavior professional such as a dog trainer or dog behavior consultant. Make sure they are committed to using positive reinforcement and force-free behavior modification.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2020 Adrienne Farricelli
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 12, 2020:
Fortunately, we never had that problem with any of our dogs. You provide good information as to possible causes, however.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 29, 2020:
The only time my cat started peeing in the bath tub and on the bed was when she had a urinary tract infection. Poor baby started associating the pain of the UTI with the litter box so was instinctively seeking other surfaces.
FlourishAnyway from USA on June 27, 2020:
I'm a cat person and have never had a dog so I just read this with curiosity. Yikes. Knock on wood. My cats don't pee in my bed but they have bed known to once or twice throw up there, LOL.
riley on May 14, 2020:
hi my dog scout will not stop peeing on the bed every time he goes into a room with a bed he'll jump on the bed and pee on the pillow can you help me?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 09, 2020:
Hi Stella, glad to hear that your female did it only once. When my female dog got older she started peeing on her own bed (we didn't allow on her beds) and it turned out it was because she had developed urinary incontinence and she would dribble a bit during sleep. Some supplements helped manage it fortunately.
Brooklyn digilio on May 05, 2020:
Wow that helped a lot! Thank you so much!!
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on May 04, 2020:
Hi, I had only one female dog do this one time. I was glad it didn't happen again. This was a question I always wanted to find out about. Thanks, Stella