Bed-wetters anonymous

Scent marking? Resource guarding? Frustration? Anxiety? Whatever is causing it, I think there’s an unspoken behaviour problem that not even professionals get to hear much about. What is it? Well, if your phone rings and a hesitant owner on the other end says something like, “This is really embarrassing but…” you might take a guess that their dog has peed (or worse) on their bed.

If you have had this happen to you (and I have, albeit a long time ago!), it’s just not something that you want to talk about. Well, that is, until someone else does… then the flood gates (excuse the pun) seem to open.

“Oh, my dog did that as well!”

“I was told it was dominance.”

“ It was awful – the puddle went right through the duvet and soaked into the mattress.”

“I can’t understand it, he’s perfectly house-trained in every other way.”

Of course, in ‘cat land’ such matters are neither occasional occurrences, nor particularly secretive! Cats use scent marking to communicate how they feel, and – perhaps more importantly – to manage how they do: one theory being that they like to align their scent with their owner’s in order to feel more secure. Could this be just as relevant for dogs too?

Since I’ve started asking about this problem, it seems that many owners of adolescent dogs may also know how those rather unfortunate cat owners feel as they head for the washing machine with armfuls of laundry, and maybe the time has come to get it all out in the open!

I’d be interested to hear if you have had experience of this problem. Do you know of a dog that snuck upstairs and urinated or defecated on his or her owner’s bed? I’d be interested to know how old the dog was at the time. Did the dog just do it once, or was it a pattern? What do you think was at the root cause? I’d love to know your theories. Anonymously if you prefer, of course!