How to Stop a Dog Who Pees for Revenge

dog peeing

My dog pees in the house for revenge because he is alone all day. He pees for revenge.

My dog pees in the house to get even with me for going out without him. He pees for revenge.

Which of the above statements are true?

Here’s a photo of a dog waiting to go outside so you can think for a minute and then scroll past the photo for the answer.

dog urination

The answer is BOTH ARE FALSE.

When a dog urinates or defecates in a place he normally shouldn’t, a multitude of reasons can cause this, but revenge/spite/trying to anger you are not on that list.

Dogs React to Us

It isn’t pleasant to step in a puddle of (hidden) cold dog pee saturated deep within the carpet. A typical reaction to this is probably some along the lines of “dammit, INSERT NAME HERE, what did you do?”

Yelling, shouting, shaming, or “punishing” a dog for such a behavior is not going to prevent the accident from happening in the future.

A dog’s cowering, hiding, sorrowful eyes, or lowered head when yelling, shouting, or a harsh tone is taken at finding such an accident teaches the dog to be afraid of you. As smart as most dogs are, they aren’t manipulative enough to ponder the art of revenge: That’s a human quality.

Dogshaming

A website, book, and memes galore have been built around the notion of  “dogshaming.”

Putting funny signs in front of a dog who looks like he or she did something does not mean the dog actually feels that way. Memes are meant for good humor and laughs. Dogs do not exact revenge on people. It’s just not their way.

Reasoning it Out

Dogs live in the moment. This we know. Dogs don’t ponder what’s going to happen five minutes from now let alone what might happen when their parent leaves for work tomorrow. Dogs might anticipate departure, hence a dog’s reaction when keys are heard jingling or his parent puts a pair of shoes on for a walk. Some dogs love to go for a ride, while others loathe it.

Dogs do have emotions. They do not have the foresight to willingly inflict emotional upset on people.

Planning Ahead

Ponder this: When a special occasion happens in the family, does a dog plan ahead, act extra nice, or otherwise go out of his or her way to extend himself because it is an extra special day?

No.

A happy dog is just that: happy dog: A joyful pooch who loves nothing more than to be around his pack, whether that means one person or a whole family…. he remains that joyful dog no matter what day it is. That is, unless, someone is upsetting to the dog, the dog is sick, or something emotional has happened in the dog’s life.

Dogs don’t have a date planner. Dogs do, however, show emotions with their body language, behavior, and “in the moment” thinking.

For a dog to pee in the house, plan ahead to do so, not know when you will find it, and then know you will get angry and start yelling or scolding them: Well, that takes a whole lot of calculated forward and vengeful thinking. Of all the emotions a dog has, getting even with you is not one of them.

dog peeing behavior

Dogs Who Pee for Revenge

There is no such concept as dogs who pee for revenge. We place human feelings and emotions on dog, and in many cases, rightfully so: Dogs have a huge array of emotions. If we are happy and celebrate life, our dogs are happy for us.  When we are in a bad mood, dogs either try to snap us out of it or hunker down to get through it with you or hide in corner from a loud or irritated voice.

Dogs will pee if they are scared.

Dogs will pee if they have an emotional issue.

Dogs will pee if they are puppies.

Dogs will pee if they are left alone too long.

Dogs will pee because they are marking a spot.

Dogs will pee because they are older and cannot hold it.

Dogs will pee because there is a health problem.

Dogs will not pee out of revenge.

Dogs do not deserve to be hit nor should they be spanked, slapped, have their nose rubbed “in it” or any similar behavior. This only serves to instill fear, the latter of which is unsanitary, disgusting, and an old wives’ tale that seems to take place in homes across the world. Doing it doesn’t make it right and can actually harm your dog.

What to Do

If your dog is urinating in the house, any number of reasons exist, but revenge is not one of them. Science says so, too.  Some believe that guilt is complicated; we believe that dogs are not (complicated): they simply love us and would not purposely or with calculated intent seek to be punished.

The above applies as much to number “two” as it does number “one.”

This is such an important topic, we are making this our weekly “blog hop” news and sharing it with our pet blogging buddies including these fab folks below:

Comments

  1. This is something I learned when reading the Decoding Your Dog book. I would still swear that Shiner will occasionally pee for “revenge” or out of spite for something, but I know that this is not true and scientifically proven. I don’t punish her and I don’t make her “feel bad” about it. It rarely happens and when it does, it is just one occasion out of the blue.

    • THAT is a great book, and we have read it. I totally believe that dogs do not do peeing or pooping for revenge on us.

      • Great post, Carol.

        I’ve just recently finished reading the Decoding Your Dog book. I think the potty training chapter was actually one of my favorites! It was very well written and full of good information.

        I loved the one example where the owners thought the dog was acting “guilty,”
        But then later on when they got a new puppy, the dog would act the same way when the puppy had an accident. And then it really sunk in for the owners that the dog was just responding to their body language and emotions, because the dog knew the humans would react to the puddle on the floor.

  2. The only place a dog takes revenge is in movies! Very informative article, now hope those that think they are peeing for revenge will wake up and realize NO, they are not!

  3. One of the biggest things I’ve learned the past year in nose work and tracking courses is how dogs are not at all doing things for reasons we think. They see things in their own way and we humanize it all which is what messes things up and doesn’t get to the root of a behavior.

  4. The article is very informative. But BJ did show his displeasure when I brought in a foster dog. He peed in the house. As soon as the foster was out of the house, he stopped.

  5. My Mama and Papa like to joke that I make accidents happen “out of revenge/spite,” but they understand that it is not premeditated. That said, I do it 1. When I am left alone for awhile, but also 2. When I am left alone for a very short while… sometimes as little as 5 to 10 minutes. I get anxious being separated from the pack.

    We agree with your argument, but we’d like to see more of “What to Do;” would you consider updating the last section to include some suggestions for how to improve this behavior using alternative methods?

      • Please give us ways to stop it. We call them Protest Poops.

        MY dogs have two doggie doors. one is always available. Often times when I come home from work or even just being gone for an hour, I come home to a pile of poop in front of the door I leave and return from.

        She knows what she is doing. She uses the outside all the time!

  6. Great post! It always boils my blood when I hear someone say “my dog did that to spite me for doing this/that”. No, they didn’t! That’s not how they think.

  7. I do agree most dogs are not revengeful, but I feel my parents’ (spoiled rotten) cocker spaniel was an exception. Years ago, my dad had to put her in the garage for about two hours. The very next day, she pooped on his side of the bed. Something similar happened a few years later–she got mad and pooped on my parents’ bed.

  8. Yall crazy if you think dogs dont pee out of spite. Especially if they only do it when you tell them to move cause they want to play and be rubbed on. When she spite pees its clear regular urination is darker. She does it cause she wants attention.

  9. I’d love to hear anyone’s take on this as not being a case of spite peeing and pooping.

    My girl friend’s adult dog that she’s had for about 4 years is very bright and has a great personality, but is really sassy too.

    If she doesn’t get what she wants–a hand out, you make her go outside when she doesn’t want to or don’t let her outside when shes wants to (she will hold it for a surprisingly long amount of time), she doesn’t get to go on the couch or a bed that she wants to, etc.–she will run to another room the moment you turn your back. When she returns to where you are looking all proud of herself, you’ve got a big old mess to clean up.

    I understand the idea that dog’s aren’t really capable of planning per say, but that seems to be an action/reaction scenario that can only be viewed as some type of “revenge”, even if it is a little more amorphous than the human conception of such.

    Regardless, we’re struggling with ways to get her out of it, any ideas would be welcomed and appreciated.

  10. My dog pees if I leave him longer than 5 hours (yes, I had him tested), which if you work for a living, happens often. So I invested in a good deep cleaning carpet cleaner. I guess you can say, I suck it up.

    • That is really good that you do this and are aware. I know some dogs can’t hold it and 5 hours for many dogs means accidents.

  11. I’ve read all the comments but I still don’t have a clue as what to do about it.
    I don’t see them as “accidents’…My cat’s litter & food is in my master bedroom so we keep the door opened just a crack for the cat…however, Jake, my daughters dog, sneaks in there & poops & pees whenever he sees the door a little more opened.
    Jake has gotten into the litter box, pees next to me toilet bowl & poops in front of my
    armoir.
    My daughter & I are besides ourselves & don’t know what to do…can you please help us?

  12. Solutions are needed! This is so frustrating! Our boys just started this last year. No medical issues, and usually not left alone for more than a few hours. Driving us crazy!???

  13. So if the dog or in my case puppy doesn’t pee for revenge then what is it considered when your puppy knows he is in trouble because you yell at him for what he did then pees while looking at you and shows no fear and just anger because he is growling at you? This has been going on for a while and we don’t know how to fix it any suggestions?

  14. I have an 18 month old Maltese who only recently started peeing indoors, he doesn’t run to another room, he doesn’t hide, he doesn’t wait until he’s alone, he’s quite proud, no fear just lifts his leg & pees in front of you, I don’t know why he’s started this, he has constant access to the garden alongside our female Shih tzu who is spayed, she never ever done this, it’s getting frustrating as there are no health issues, he’s neutered & is never alone longer than an hour – 2 hours max, the door to the garden is open he even follows our Shih tzu & does go in the garden, we praise both dogs when they go outside & have done this always, so why would he start this behaviour ? He looks straight at us when he does it, most importantly how do I stop it ?

    It’s easy to think because he looks straight at you when he does this that’s its for attention but one thing my dogs are not starved of & that is attention & affection, I’m tearing my hair out as to why this has started out of the blue

    • Oh honey,lol; Maltese, Havanese, Bichons, all in that “Havanese family” are truly slow to housebreak if they do at all. We have a Maltese and a Havanese. I wish we wouldve known this. They never truly get it; our Maltese is now 15 and our Havanese 13; its been a long road, filled with cold pee puddles, pooping as way of greeting new people who come into the house (the Havanese) ,etc. They all do this; getting them spayed/neutered helps, but even then, its no fix for these smaller breeds. Best advice? Get hardwood, and pray for patience,lol.

  15. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, whenever I leave him at home he pees in the house: on the carpet, on the bed, on flowers..
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  16. This morning, when my dog saw me putting my jacket on she ran out and peed right on the door. She does this every time she notices I’m going out. How do I prevent this? It really looks like she is trying to prevent me for going out. She is 4 month

  17. My wonderful, lovely puppy 10 mnth, has taken to peeing beside his food dish. Can’t think what it is due too. He is walked, fed, hiked, loved, pampered. Getting frustrating for us. We carefully trained him, only positive reinforcement but suddenly he has started this issue.

  18. This was a great article with some grey areas and no solutions on this behavior. Our 3.5 month old Frenchie is potty trained. We are currently trying to train her to lay in her bed while we work or study. After a few minutes of rejecting her requests to be on our laps, she will go to the same spot in the house and pee to express her frustration. This would fall under “emotional issue.” It may not be what we would consider premeditated revenge, but that is just semantics.

  19. But what if you let your dog out for ten minutes before you go to the grocery store and come home to find he has peed on the garbage can? Or you let him out before you go to bed and wake up to find a turd at the bottom of the stairs in the middle of the night? Also the poo only happens when you’re boyfriend sleeps over?

    • I am so glad you asked this. Dogs do not think in terms of revenge. A dog is basically a nose with a body attached. I just finished reading an amazing book called “Being a Dog” – following a dog into a world of smell. The author is Alexandra Horowitz. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CO34JHU/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

      I gained so much more info on that. Dogs are always in sniff, mark, repeat mode.

      So let’s use your example:

      Grocery store: He knows that if you are present, that the behavior is a no no. He is smelling something in the garbage with his amazing nose receptors and is marking it. He is not trying to tick you off.

      The turd in the middle of the night: Like people, nature calls, and when you gotta go, you gotta go. How else can he tell you he needs to go out if you are sleeping?

      The boyfriend one is easy: Your dog is marking his property. There is a new person in the house. That new person is your boyfriend. He has a distinctive scent. You may not even smell it. Your dog does. Your dog marks his territory when your boyfriend sleeps over.

  20. How then do you explain taking a dog outside, standing with them for 5-10 minutes (to no avail), and then bringing them inside and having them look into your face as they pee on the floor?

    • It is not revenge. Dogs do not have the capacity, fortitude, nor thought process to plan nor exact revenge. That is a human characteristic. Try a different training method. Revert back to maybe what you did to train the dog as a puppy. I used to have piddle pads down, when my dog peed on them I would take the piddle pad outside and my dog and show him outside and praise him. With time, I would see him run to the piddle pad and then pick it up and take it outside. I would praise so much. I had a verbal party for him outside. Eventually he knew that outside was the place to go. Maybe just standing with the dog teaches the dog to just you know, stand. Are you associating a verbal reward or maybe even a small treat when he or she does pee outside?

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