Do Dogs Pee Out of Spite?

Maybe it happened after you left your dog behind as you took a family vacation elsewhere for a few days, thinking some food and treats would be enough to tide them over. Maybe it happened after a long night of your dog barking at another dog or car or anything else which happened to bother them. Maybe it happened after you and your dog had an “argument” and the next thing you knew there they were, lifting their leg.

There are any number of reasons why your dog might have decided to urinate on the spot.

The question is, are any of those reasons simply done out of spite?

Did your dog decide revenge urination was the best way to “get back at you,” or anyone else who has dared to offend their doggy dignity?

Well, while that might be a possibility, and it’s certainly a humorous one to think about (assuming it isn’t your carpeting, clothes, bed, or belongings being “targeted” by your dog), chances are that’s not the case. Dogs pee for a whole host of reasons (besides the obvious) and with even behavioral-based motivations typically being a lot more complex than them simply urinating “out of spite.”

So why do dogs do this, and what can you do about it?

Dog Behavior and Urination

First and foremost, it’s important to note that dogs don’t have the same type of predilection against bodily fluids that we do. While nobody wants to be “sprayed” by urine, for dogs bodily fluids and urine in particular are a way of marking territory, which is integral to dogs’ social life. Dogs are heavily influenced by their sense of smell, after all, and if there’s one nose-wrinkling fact of which we’re all too aware of when it comes to dog urine it’s that it can smell, and stay odiferous for a long period of time. That’s by design, allowing dogs to “claim” certain “territories” as their own.

Of course, just as wolves are aggressive about defending their “territory,” domesticated dogs can also be territorial. This, as we’ll see, is where some of the misconceptions regarding “revenge pee” come in. For now, however, it’s worth noting that urine’s role as a means of marking territory and how sensitive dogs can be about said territory can lead to several pee-related dog behavioral issues, including:

  • Fear: When dogs feel their territory or they themselves are personally being threatened, their first reaction may be one of fear. Sure, some dogs are big, strong guard dogs, but others are little balls of fluff or canines whose bark is way worse than their bite. If your dog is a bit more cowardly, there’s every chance their first response to even the tiniest disturbance might be one of bladder-triggering fear.
  • Assertiveness: If you have gotten a new dog recently, your old one may be peeing more. While it may be tempting to read this as “revenge peeing” for you daring to give your attention to some other cuddly ball of fur rather than them, and attention-seeking behavior is the closest to “spite” you’ll see on this list, they’re probably just trying to assert their territory. Again, pee is a powerful scent marker for them, so they want to make sure their scent “covers” any and all areas where the new dog may now be present.
  • Incontinence and Age: As your dog gets older, it gets harder for it to hold its bladder. Additionally, if your dog has hurt its back or undergone spaying or neutering recently, the muscles affected may be making it harder for them to hold their bladder like they know they’re supposed to do. In these cases, it isn’t the dogs’ “fault” that they’re peeing in places they shouldn’t be, and certainly isn’t done out of “spite.”
  • Separation Anxiety: Taken in concert with other symptoms, urination in areas where your dog feels “comfortable” or where you are often present can be a sign of separation anxiety.

How to Stop This From Happening

Since you almost certainly aren’t locked in a bladder battle with an offended dog peeing out of spite, what can you do to stop them from soiling and spoiling your home?

One of the most obvious steps may be to go back to puppy training basics and reteach them where it is appropriate to go in and outside of your home. If your dog is still young, it may still make mistakes from time to time, so don’t assume they’re just a petulantly-peeing adolescent pooch.

If you let your dog outside to pee, you may need to consider increasing the amount of times you allow them to do so. The solution may be as simple as your dog drinking more water more frequently and thus still having to go to the bathroom in between breaks. If you see them whining near the door where you usually let them out to go, and they wind up peeing there, this likely isn’t spite so much as them begging you to let them use their bathroom more.

If a loud noise, new dog, or other stimuli has caused this uptick in urinary action, try and remove the object or else get your dog accustomed to it. For example, see if you can at least somewhat block out the sound of cars roaring by, or give your dog treats when a new dog is in the room so they associate them with positive things, feel less “threatened” territory-wise, and thus “hold their fire.”

Above all, you should never, under any circumstances, scream at or hit your dog for urinating. They don’t hate you, they’re not being spiteful, it may not even be their fault, and taking such actions can scar your dog and may also be illegal.

For as funny as the idea of dogs “peeing out of spite” may be, it’s something that is more common to the world of slapstick movies than any actual reality of dog ownership. Pay attention to your dog’s real behavioral needs, and you should be able to cut down on urinary accidents, making both of you that much more relieved.