How to stop dogs from peeing on furniture (Male and Female)

How To Stop Dogs From Peeing On Furniture? Photo of a male and a female Dachshunds who have peed on the floor.

If you’ve ever made the unfortunate discovery of your dog peeing on your couch or your furniture after you’ve sat down. In that case, you’ll want to read below on how to stop dogs from peeing on furniture, how to retrain this behavior, like, yesterday.

To successfully stop dogs from peeing on the furniture, you must understand the reasons behind the behavior. From there, you can learn how to make sure that you get to the bottom of the issues properly. Top focus points include:

  • Cleaning up from the mess properly.
  • Helping your dog appropriate places to pee.
  • Addressing their instinctive behavior for what it is.

How you do that for each situation will vary and are discussed below!

Why does my dog pee on furniture?

As introduced above, the first thing you need to do to help your dog find a new place to do his business is to understand why he’s chosen your couch in the first place! Common reasons in female and male dogs include:

  • They are dealing with unchecked hormones
  • They are marking unfamiliar/foreign objects
  • They are establishing themselves as alpha
  • They are setting their boundaries
  • They are feeling cooped up
  • They are anxious
  • They aren’t feeling well 

They are dealing with unchecked hormones

If your dog isn’t spayed or neutered, their hormones will make them more likely to pee on surfaces. Whether it’s territorial aggression or spreading their hormonal situation (more on that later), they are going to be driven by the urge to communicate through their pee. Once they are fixed, these hormones will subside, and they’ll be less likely to act out for hormonal purposes!

They are marking unfamiliar/foreign objects

If something comes into your house that is new, they’re going to make it theirs by peeing on it. This is very likely if that new object has the scent of another animal! Dogs will immediately mark their territory to clarify to this “foreign animal” that your dog is the one to answer to in the house. To us, this makes no sense. But it makes perfect sense to your dog!

They are establishing themselves as alpha

Many dogs have a biological drive to be alpha! If someone new has moved in more, you have brought home a new dog or cat; your dog will get busy making it clear to the newcomer that they are the alpha dog. By, you guessed it, peeing on virtually everything. The more they spread their scent, the more the newcomer will understand the way of things. 

While this should decrease when you’ve neutered or spayed your dog, it can continue and should be adequately addressed! In some situations, especially with those dogs with strong alpha drives, you may need to bring a professional in!

They are setting their boundaries

Dogs will pee on those things around their space’s perimeters. You’ve seen this on certain trees outside and often fire hydrants. However, you may notice your dog doing it inside, too. They don’t understand the difference between indoor and outdoor marking, so this is something that you’ll need to help your dog understand by retraining this behavior. We’ve discussed this more in detail below!

They are feeling cooped up

As you most likely know, dogs have specific expectations and needs for exercise. If your dog isn’t getting those, they can become cooped up, and this will lead them to pee on furniture. Experts don’t know the reason behind this, but many believe it’s because most dogs will mark their territory while on a walk — if they don’t get a chance to walk, they’ll mark it elsewhere instead!

They are anxious

Dogs will pee on things when they are anxious. In fact, dogs will rely entirely on their biological and instinctive behaviors when they get anxious. When they can’t sort out what to do about a specific stressor, their instincts will kick into overdrive. This is much the same with humans, too. Understanding that cause is essential to getting your dog back into their healthier mindset to see that there is no reason to be anxious! 

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They aren’t feeling well 

Lastly, dogs will pee on things when they don’t feel well. They might not be able to help it, or it might be a behavior done specifically to get your attention. If the other reasons don’t seem plausible or it’s a sudden behavioral change, this is something to seriously think about!

Does vinegar stop dogs from peeing in on furniture?

Vinegar is a common household option for those that want to try to deter their dog since they don’t like the smell of vinegar. The results are mixed, though. Many find that it can help deter dogs from peeing, but only short-term. Dogs will return to pee again as soon as the initial acrid smell has faded.

It can work in a short-term situation, but it isn’t often a long-term choice because it’s not as effective as other purpose-designed choices. More on that a bit later!

Does cayenne pepper stop dogs from peeing on furniture?

Much like vinegar, it can deter your dog from peeing short-term, but it isn’t effective as a long-term solution. Since cayenne pepper can cause digestive issues, it’s not recommended if your dog is curious about it and might eat it! Not to mention curiosity is the exact opposite of the effect that you’re going for!

Not to mention, of course, that your entire living room is going to smell like a spicy restaurant — and you will get covered in it if you sit in it!

What scents deter dogs from peeing on furniture?

As mentioned above, certain scents will deter dogs from returning to the same furniture to pee on it again. These include:

  • Vinegar
  • Citruses
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Spices
  • Mint

While these may help your dog avoid that area, they aren’t all safe for dogs (mint, especially). They can work in a pinch if you’ve got absolutely nothing else in your home, but they won’t be a good idea for use long-term. Not to mention that they often are uncomfortable and frustrating for humans! 

The difference is between” deterring” and “stopping” as far as your dog’s pee habits are concerned, after all. You’ll want to go with the second option if you intend on keeping your furniture as safe as possible!

Choosing the right cleaning product

Basically, every dog owner should have a dedicated and powerful enzyme-based spray. These specially formulated cleaners will break down pee and effectively remove it from any porous and fabric surface! Since dog pee is notoriously difficult for getting out of fabrics, this is essential! 

Plus, permanently and effectively removing dog pee from your furniture is going to be a crucial part of making sure that he or she doesn’t go there to pee again! These sprays do cost a bit more than vinegar or your other household cleaners, but a little bit goes a long way. And it’s cheaper than a new sofa, right?

Photo of a Dachshund dog who have peed on the floor.

Home remedies to stop dogs from peeing on furniture

Other than the right enzyme-based cleaner, you can look at other remedies to help keep stop your dog from peeing on the furniture.

Distraction

The first technique is, of course, distraction. If you feel that your dog is checking out your couch to mark their territory or generally be a nuisance, consider the idea of distracting them! Perhaps a tasty treat, toy, or even quality time spent with you. While you won’t want to praise your dog (this will make them attach their behavior with the praise), you can effectively distract a wandering dog’s mind to keep your couch safe!

From there, you’ll want to retrain your dog’s habits of peeing outside. For example, when you see your dog doing their pee dance near your couch, take them outside, where there are much more exciting places to pee. Pretty soon, your couch will be a forgotten object as far as your dog is concerned!

Put their bed there

Another excellent technique for dogs that just won’t be deterred by other methods is to their bed there! Dogs will not pee where they sleep. After you’ve effectively cleaned the piece of furniture, block access to it with their bed, and they’ll see it as their new sleeping spot instead.

You’ll want to keep your dog’s bed there for an extended time so that they essentially forget about it as a pee spot, even if you later remove it. 

Remove the piece of furniture

If you can’t stay on top of your dog’s “pee problem”, consider the drastic step of removing the piece of furniture! Yes, it is extreme, but some pieces of furniture may just trigger that biological behavior in your dog for reasons that we can’t always understand. Consider moving it to an area of the home that your dog doesn’t have access to, even if it’s just for a few months until your dog forgets about it.

Does rubbing a dog’s nose in pee work?

No, this is an outdated myth! Punishing your dog by rubbing their face in their pee only makes them feel fearful of you. It can also incentivize them to do it again since their pee will be a positive marker for them. Peeing on things is their way of “telling their story,” after all. 

You will need to use kindness and obedience training to help retrain your dog’s peeing behavior. Punishing and cruelty will never get you anywhere and can harm your relationship with your dog long-term!

How do you stop a dog from peeing on everything?

We’ve talked quite a bit about that above, but let’s take a moment to understand the cause behind the behavior. The cause that actually causes the behavior that is. It’s as simple as this: biological instinct.

Dogs communicate with each other through pee. Sounds gross to us, sure, but it’s common in the animal kingdom! This is a biological instinct that can’t be taken from your dog because it’s part of their lizard brain.

Male dogs often pee on surfaces because they are trying to protect their territory. They are marking everything as theirs so that another dog doesn’t try to take over it and your dog’s pack (i.e., you). 

Females often will pee on surfaces when they advertise their status as being ready to mate. This, again, is a biological marker. They will also do this to mark their territory, though it’s not as aggressive as males. 

The point in understanding this is that this is as much a part of them as their hunting instinct or barking habits. This is a biological behavior that you can retrain but not eliminate. Even in situations where you’ve done “everything right,” dogs will still need to scratch that itch, and you’ll just need to give them exciting and non-furniture spots to do so!

My dog is peeing on furniture all of a sudden — why?

If this peeing behavior is sudden, there could be several reasons why. The first is that something is making them unhappy or stressed out and their random peeing on your favorite couch cushion (of course) is their way of expressing that to you. Perhaps there is a new person, a new pet, or even just a new type of food that makes them unhappy or stressed out. Once they adjust and settle, this behavior should stop on its own.

The other cause for peeing out of nowhere is that they aren’t feeling well. Perhaps they are incontinent and unable to control it (common with senior dogs), or they are dealing with kidney stones or a UTI, etc. If they seem normal otherwise, this is the most common cause. A trip to the vet will help confirm it!

Ultimately

Both male and female dogs can pee on the furniture for reasons including hormones, alpha behavior, lack of exercise, stress, and sickness, amongst others.

You’ll need to know how to deter the behavior and clean up the mess properly to prevent it from happening again. How you do that will depend greatly on the reason why your dog is peeing on the furniture in the first place and understanding its connection to their biological instinct.

Dealing with dog pee on your couch or other pieces of furniture is frustrating and downright disgusting, but it is something that many may have to deal with.

Understanding what to do about it and why it’s happening in the first place will be essential for protecting your furniture and your relationship with your dog!

Know someone dealing with this stinky problem? Consider sharing this and helping them get their furniture back to normal!

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Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.