The amount of love and loyalty that a dog can give you is quite unparalleled; rarely is any other love as pure or as unconditional! Your dog isn’t just a pet; he or she is a member of your family and there’s just something about spending quiet evenings “Netflix and chilling” with your dog by your side on the couch!
But what if your dog has suddenly developed the habit of peeing on the couch? Once, twice or even thrice can be accidents but anything more and you know you’ve got a problem! Loving your doggo is all well and good, but it can be quite frustrating and difficult to hold back the anger when this happens. After all, didn’t you spend quite a bit of time (months, sometimes!) house training him?
Well, hold back the anger and summon up the patience; peeing on the couch isn’t always a behavioral problem — it can arise from a number of different causes. So don’t just resort to punishing your dog if this occurs frequently; delve into the problem as it could be more than what it seems.
Here’s everything you need to know about why your precious bundle of fur has suddenly gone from “good boy” to “bad boy” ( at least when it comes to peeing on the couch) and what you can do to prevent it!
The Root of the Problem
If your dog’s newly-developed habit of peeing on the couch isn’t him just acting up and going all “scud” on you, it’s highly probable that the behavior is caused by a number of medical reasons, such as:
- Diseases/Illnesses: Diabetes, kidney and Cushing’s disease are all common reasons behind urinary tract and bladder infections, as are internal parasites. Bladder stones can also cause frequent urination.
- Incontinence: This condition gets more probable and common as the age of the dog increases; dogs suffer from incontinence or the inability to control their peeing in their old age, leading to involuntarily urinating. This is most common when your dog is relaxed, generally while sleeping.
- Stress/Anxiety: Well, mental health doesn’t just pertain to humans; it pertains to animals as well! Dogs that have been through stress and trauma tend to exhibit submissive behavior (more on that in the next point), such as peeing on your couch when they catch sight of you or you’re standing over them. These dogs can’t always be retrained to alter their behavior. Separation anxiety is also another very real factor; you leaving the house can stress your dog enough to pee on the couch.
- Submissive Eliminator Behavior: What this means is that your dog is excessively submissive and peeing may be one of the many actions associated with such behavior. Dogs that are submissive tend to pee when they’re scared, excited, happy, being scolded or even when they’re introduced to new people. These dogs seek out safe places to pee in, and generally, these are spaces that smell of you, such as your couch or your bed or any other place or furniture that you regularly sit on, especially with your dog. Peeing in these spots makes them feel safe.
Though all of the above-mentioned issues are more commonly found in older dogs, several young dogs and puppies could also suffer these issues. These conditions cause dogs to lose control of their bladders, leading to more frequent urination.
If you even have an inkling of a doubt that your dog may be suffering from a medical condition, monitoring the amount of water he drinks during the day, the places he pees, the frequency of it and the volume can help you and your vet pin down the exact cause behind your dog’s problem. Excessive thirst is also a good indicator of a medical condition.
Of course, peeing on the couch frequently can’t just be put down to medical conditions all the time; there are a couple of other factors that could explain why your dog is doing what he’s doing, such as:
- The Presence of Other Dogs: Who doesn’t like being the center of attention, right? Having that taken away is something most of us can’t always deal with and apparently, dogs are the same! When there’s a new dog in the house, your dog’s first instinct is to get jealous. This can be a motivating factor in bringing on the peeing, especially if your dog’s always been the pampered “only child” thus far.
- Safety: Dogs don’t just feel jealous of other dogs; they may also feel threatened. Most animals identify each other through smell and associate a certain type of scent with safety. Therefore, your dog might pee to feel safe by setting up a territory that other predators or dogs can recognize and stay away from; if she’s just given birth to puppies, she might pee all around the den to let her pups know that they’re safe, as the puppies will associate the scent of their mother with safety and also feel like she’s always close by. This also masks any other smell that they might associate with threats and prevent them from panicking or going into hiding.
- Marking Territories: Your dog may just be following his alpha instincts and peeing on your couch to mark his territory and as a way of asserting himself. This behavior will continue till your dog feels that his territory is safe and under threat no more. Though it is widely believed that neutering or spaying your dog will solve this, that may not always be the case. The only way to win over an alpha is to become the alpha yourself (the truth of life!). Asserting your dominance over your dog will discourage him from marking his territory.
Additionally, your dog may pee on your couch because it’s covered in your scent; this is his way of saying that you’re his! He’s looking to add his own scent to yours to ensure his territory and status in the household.
These factors contribute just as much to your dog’s behavior as medical conditions do.
How to Stop Your Dog from Peeing on the Couch
No one wants to step into their homes after a long day only to be hit in the face with a gust of pee-flavored wind. Even worse is the cleaning process that follows!
Well, luckily, there are a few ways to get Toto to stop viewing your couch as his personal washroom!
Regular Potty Breaks
Dogs have an incredible ability to run on schedule. If you’ve been feeding them or filling their bowls at a particular time or taking them out for walks at a particular time, you’ll notice your dog trying to get your attention at these specific times every day.
Potty or pee breaks are no different. Taking your dog out regularly according to a schedule helps set a pattern that your dog won’t break; it’s in his or her nature and very rarely will he or she break it.
Not taking your dog out might result in your dog finding a suitable spot in your house to turn into his own spot for answering Mother Nature’s call. And as luck would have it, this is most commonly against your couch and other furniture. As even worse luck would have it, he’ll keep returning to the same spot that he’s previously peed on.
Of course, the above is only effective if you’ve successfully house trained your dog. If you haven’t yet or are struggling with the task on your own, you’ll find that finishing schools aren’t limited only to “high-society” young women; there are enough and more training academies for your dog too.
Specialized instructors potty train your dog as well as teach them other things such as how to socialize with other dogs and humans, how to recognize commands, and how to walk next to you, among other things.
Regularly exercising your dog is crucial as it prevents them from getting bored or frustrated; this state of mind often results in unhealthy behavior, of which peeing on the couch is one! Needless to say, regular exercise also helps build muscles and keep your dog healthy.
Spraying Your Couch
Dogs are very sensitive to smell; they have a clear list of the smells they like and don’t like. Cleaning your couch thoroughly and spraying it with a scent (preferably natural) that your dog doesn’t like, such as apple cider vinegar, citrus and vinegar, will prevent your dog from returning to pee on your couch.
The scent not only masks the smell of his urine from the previous time but also masks your smell. This will also prevent him from peeing on the couch to “protect” you or make you a part of his territory (or what he perceives to be you, from your scent on the couch).
For older dogs or dogs who find it difficult to walk and hence, cannot be taken out regularly, you may need to set aside a dedicated space within your house for such dogs to relieve themselves. Setting up a pee pad in this area is a great option so that your dog can answer all of Mother Nature’s calls; it also serves to minimize any stress or frustration he feels from holding it in and keeps your couch pee-free!
If pee pads aren’t your thing, you might want to check out our list of indoor dog potties!
To “Pee” or Not to “Pee”!
Well, the obvious answer is “not to pee” but that’s the point; peeing may not always be in your dog’s control and you may just end up unnecessarily punishing him or her for this. Always ensure that you look for the root of the problem and know that a little understanding, love and patience go a long way; however, don’t seem encouraging or forgiving if it’s a behavioral issue — find the right balance between being strict and being understanding.
Additionally, if you’re not 100% sure of your own diagnosis of your dog’s behavior, especially if you think it’s medical, go to the vet! A quick visit to the vet will resolve your problems; second guessing may just do more harm than good to your dog.