Revenge Peeing: Fact Or Fiction?

Revenge Peeing: Fact Or Fiction?

I’ve heard this a lot recently:

My dog pees/poos in the house just to get back at me! He knows he’s supposed to do it outside. He knows I hate it. He does it purposely, out of revenge! What a jerk!

It is the easiest thing in the world to get frustrated at our dogs sometimes: they are domesticated wolves, after all, who we try to fit in to our well-manicured apartments and lives. And to make the learning curve even more difficult, we don’t speak the same language that dogs do!

But anger and frustration will rarely help your dog learn to trust, respect, understand, obey, and love you. So it should help to know that dogs don’t EVER mess the house out of “revenge”, to “get back at” you, or to make you mad! This includes not only peeing and pooing, but even digging, chewing, and shredding things.

First of all, remember that DOGS LIKE pee and poo! They love the smell. It tells them everything about where dogs have been, what they’ve eaten, their physical conditions, even their moods. Smelling messes is like us reading a book or watching a movie! As I like to put it: when your dog messes in your house, if he’s doing anything at all intentional with you in mind, he’s leaving you a gift! Of course it isn’t an intentional “gift”; but the point is to try to see how one-sided our human assumptions are. We’ll never be able to live harmoniously with our dogs if we can’t learn to see the world through their eyes (and noses :).

What about the reasons people give that prove their dogs are devious and vengeful?

– “He knows he’s supposed to do it outside!”
Yes, he knows outdoors is where lots of other dogs do it, and hopefully he’s never been punished for doing it out there (and instead been rewarded). But this doesn’t mean he knows he SHOULDN’T to do it INSIDE!

– “He knows it makes me angry!”
There has been excellent recent research on “the guilty look” in dogs.  Basically, dogs know when you’re angry or upset. They can even learn that you tend to get upset when certain things are around – like pee or poo in the house. What they DON’T learn is that you’re upset that THEY MADE those things! They don’t associate themselves, their previous actions, with the product.

– “He purposely does it in the worse places!”
Dogs innately abstain from messing where they eat and sleep. When we exclude our dogs from certain areas – like our bedrooms, or living rooms with expensive oriental rugs – they’re much more likely to go mess in there when left on their own, if they have the chance. Also, if your dog is “marking” – putting his (or even her) scent on things to “claim” them, he’ll tend to do it on things that smell like you (your clothes, bed, etc.) A neat housebreaking tip is to feed your dog wherever they tend to mess – e.g. actually put the food right down on the rug itself, no bowl.

So what are the real reasons your dog still messes inside even after so much training? The three most likely causes are:

  1. anxiety
  2. boredom
  3. excess physical energy

– or all of the above.

So instead of getting frustrated next time your dog messes, take him for a long walk to the dog park, and get him running and playing offleash with other dogs.

I guarantee your pup isn’t trying to “get back at you” for anything. He’s likely experiencing some combination of frustration, nerves, and pent-up needs for outdoor mental, physical, and social stimulation. Whatever the case, he certainly doesn’t expect or want to make you angry. Though sometimes he doesn’t understand why you get so angry, in his mind you guys are besties till the end!

Published On: October 10th, 2012Categories: YelpTags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. Kumar S March 29 at 4:52 AM

    We adopted a 12 year old pitbull a little of a year ago and for the most part he is very well trained. He will pee in the house on occasion, but it’s getting rarer the longer he is with us. But there is one peculiar circumstance I wanted to ask about. He is spoiled and has two beds, one upstairs and one downstairs. And he seems to love having a blanket on the bed. But when there is a blanket on his upstairs bed, if my wife or I touch the blanket just before we all go to bed he will pee directly on it. Last night again, my wife brought up the blanket from downstairs to keep him happy, and thought that if I distracted him and didn’t let him see her putting the blanket down it would be okay, but he went straight over squatted and peed right on the blanket again. This has happened 4 or 5 times and it’s clearly a link to one of us touching or moving the blanket. Mostly, this is training us to either not put a blanket upstairs or be very cautious of touching it before bed, but I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on why he does this. Is he claiming ownership? If we left the blanket there would he sleep right on his own urine? Any other thoughts? He does walk in front of us on walks – is that an issue?

  2. Rosi March 30 at 7:20 AM

    I hate to be that person, but I know my dog “revenge” pees. There have been WAY too many examples of this for me to ignore. I have a border collie, in particular, that does this. My husband and I have taken the dogs out (I have three, a Shih-Tzu, a border collie, and a hound mix) and we have all come back in without any problems until I leave the house. The border collie will watch me leave from the window while he stands on the couch, and then he’ll turn around and hike his leg on the couch, with my husband sitting three feet from him. Mind you, he was just outside not 5 seconds previously.
    He’s also done this when we had to both leave the house. We’ll let everyone out, stay out for 10-20 minutes, put everyone in the bedroom (because our hound once chewed our table during his puppy days so now everyone stays in the bedroom) and we’ll be gone 10 minutes and come back to pee and sometimes poop. It’s a sad fact, but I can tell who did what out of the three dogs and the border collie is always the culprit.

    • Rosi March 30 at 7:22 AM

      I’d also like to point out, the Border collie is around 12 years old, and he was a blood donor for a vet clinic that I worked for before I adopted him about a year ago. He never urinates in the house, unless someone leaves, even if someone is still in the house with him.

    • Anthony April 1 at 9:57 PM

      This sure sounds like dominant ownership/marking to me. Could also be some frustration/anxiety going on. These supersmarties have lots going on in their heads!

  3. Teri April 4 at 6:57 AM

    Our dog Lucy is 10 years old – mixed min-pin/Chilhuajua. She is well trained, very used to her crate and likes it, is a kind patient dog and she listens. When I leave the house I usually leave her in her crate. She enjoys her space and sometimes you’ll even find her sleeping in her crate when we’re at home.
    So it was a big surprise that Lucy decided to not only poop but throw up in her crate yesterday. The grandkids were visiting and we were taking them to the movies, we had to leave Lucy home.

    When we got ready to leave, my husband made the mistake and said “let’s go” then Lucy ran down the stairs to go. I had to get her upstairs and put her in her crate, she whined and cried.

    When we got home we found that she had pooped A LOT towards the front of her crate door AND she also threw up foamy/yellow stomach bile towards the other side of her crate. She pulled in the blanket we put on top of her crate and bit it up. She has NEVER done this before and now this was the second time! The first was also when we took the grandkids out a few weeks ago and couldn’t take her with us, she had only pooped.

    She is crate trained and we do leave her in her crate during the work week up to 4 hours and she is fine. This situation is only tied to one common thing, the grandkids and us not taking her with us when the grandkids are visiting. Any thoughts??

    • Anthony April 14 at 11:52 PM

      She’s undergoing extreme stress at those times. Separation anxiety apparently when the grandkids are there. Can cause peeing, pooping, vomiting, also digging/chewing and other self-destructive behaviors.

  4. Alex September 6 at 11:53 PM

    Hello. My 5 year old female Husky dog, who is very well behavior, pee on bed yesterday while I was not home. Before that I recieved my boyfriend home, she loves him and she wanted to play some, but we couldn´t and we left home. 10 mins later my maid called me and told me what happened. When i got back home I was super furious and I told her (my dog) how unhappy I was with a very strong voice.
    Now that I read this blog I dont want her to feel punish anymore. How can I do it making her know what she did must no happen again? We walk almost everyday. She sleeps with me, she plays a lot with other dogs, she is a very lucky and happy dog. What was all about?

    • Anthony September 7 at 4:08 AM

      How long has this dog been with you?

      You say you walk “almost” every day. First of all it needs to be EVERY day, multiple times! Also for how long, how far? Most importantly, does she get to run and play offleash every day with other dogs? They have physical, emotional, and social needs. More physical than we humans!

      This sounds like separation anxiety and pent up needs. There are counterconditioning exercises you can gradually build up once the exercise and daily offleash socializing are in place.

      Unfortunately, communicating anger to your dog after the fact won’t help. All she hears/sees is that you don’t like pee being there. She has no clue that she’s “connected” to it; when she experiences that same mindset again, she’ll repeat the peeing and other behavior. Until you cure the underlying needs.

      You’re a devoted and dedicated and compassionate owner! Look for professional help in the form of walkers first, then trainers. Keep me posted!

  5. Jean-Sebastien Théberge October 8 at 8:44 PM

    My dog has severe separation anxiety. Me and my wife are trying to get him to sleep in his own bed at night. He’s very smart and he behaves.. We’ll sort of.. Most nights if we refuse him in bed, he will systematically pee in the house… But only and only if we don’t accept him in the bed… Again he has separation anxiety, he’s à rescue dog that was abandoned… We walk him alot and we give him lots maybe even too much love if there’s such a thing hehe… He’s always on my wife’s lap and with us on the couch when we are at home.. Any ideas how to break the cycle of pee but most importantly help with the ultimate problem which that he has with anxiety??

    • Jean-Sebastien Théberge October 8 at 9:04 PM

      Also note that he does not pee ever when we go to work (which is longer than sleep time). On when he feels rejected from the bed. It does very much feel like a get back tactic, but I know he just feels anxious.. What to do? :)

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