Myth Busting: Do dogs or puppies toilet in the home out of spite?

vecteezy black puppy dog peeing on green grass 8200543 597 Toilet training outside

Posted On March 27, 2023

Short answer: ‘No!’

You wouldn’t believe how many people think dogs and puppies do this. Whether its toileting in the room they have been put into or toileting in someone’s shoes, I will explain why dogs do not toilet out of spite or revenge.

Take your puppy outside regularly for the most success with toilet training
Take your puppy outside regularly to maximise the success of your toilet training

The Science

Research shows that the amount of emotions available to a dog will not exceed that which is available to a two and half year old child. (Coran 2013).

What that means is they can feel the basic emotions of joy, fear, anger, disgust and love. Dogs do not experience complex emotions such as guilt, pride, shame or spite.

Dogs emotional development
Stanley Coran (2013) Psychology Today

For a dog to toilet inside out of spite, they would have to understand and share the owner’s view that toileting inside is wrong. Then use that shared belief to guide the behaviour of toileting in the house. 

A dog would not be able to analyse a situation in such great depth and then go on to make the decision to punish you out of spite later on. A dog is much more likely to react to things like separation anxiety, fear, stress and health issues, which could all contribute to the reason that they toileted inside the house.

Reasons Why Your Dog Might Toilet In the House

If your dog was previously house trained there may be a medical issue and I would say the first to to do would be to get your dog assessed at the vets to rule out any medical cause. Some examples that could cause toileting in the home are: urine infections, diabetes or kidney disease.

Your dog could be anxious when they are left alone which can result in them toileting in the house through stress.

Your dog might toilet in the house if they are scared of a person or if they have been shouted at. Or they might simply have not been fully toilet trained.

Adolescent dogs may start scent marking urine within the home environment.

Toilet Training A New Puppy Or Adopted Dog

vecteezy black puppy dog peeing on green grass 8200543 597
vecteezy black puppy dog peeing on green grass 8200543 597
  • Take your puppy out every 30 mins, plus after sleep, food and play. Puppies always need to toilet after eating so it can help to have regular meal times, rather than leaving food down all day for them to graze on.
  • When they toilet outside, praise and reward them with a treat. The more they are rewarded in the place where you want them toilet, the more it will happen there.
  • In-between toileting, supervise closely, watch for signs they need the toilet such as circling and sniffing and then take outside immediately. Do not give them free roaming access to whole house when toilet training, they need to be near you at all times. This makes it much easier to see when they need the toilet.
  • Clean any accidents with no fuss or punishment with an enzymatic cleaner which removes the smell of urine. If you scold your dog for toileting in the house, you could potentially make your puppy want to hide from you when they toilet. This can lead to going behind furniture to toilet or being worried to toilet when you are there, inside or outside.
  • Think about setting up a safe space such as a crate or puppy pen with a bed in. If you are too busy to watch your puppy, you could pop them in their safe space for 30 minutes. If they associate the space with sleeping and eating they are unlikely to toilet in there. This is because dogs don’t like to toilet where they eat sleep and drink.
  • Try keeping a toileting diary as this can help you see a pattern of when they need the toilet and you can plan your toileting schedule around it.

If you are struggling with toilet training don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

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