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I have heard of and personally observed this behavior in both dogs and house rabbits. It may occur among other species as well.

An otherwise perfectly litter trained and/or housebroken pet will get on the bed of person they identify strongly with and urinate. In my experience the behavior is notable in animals that have otherwise perfect house habits.

In my imperfect memory it seems like there is often a relationship to the owner of the bed being away or the animal feeling loss of attention, and this behavior.

Is there a known cause, cure and/or rationale for wetting the masters bed?

10

I covered the question a bit more broadly since the general problem may be of interest. Using the bed (or other furniture) is basically a subset. At any rate, by the three major trainable species:

Cats

Inappropriate

  • Litter box quality is low, in other words it's not very clean
  • Litter type may bother the cat, some may not like clay, etc.
  • Urinary infection or illness can lead to the cat selecting softer surfaces. Some include:
    • Urinary tract disease
    • Diabetes
    • Liver disease
    • Senility
  • Not enough litter boxes
  • Previous painful urination in the litter box

Marking

Marking is usually on vertical surfaces, but not always possible

  • New cat in the home or area
  • Aggression between cats already in the home, especially if there's evidence that one cat is trying to keep the others away from a spot
  • Something new in the house (e.g. a new bed)

As Caregiver

  • This is not a sign of spite or anger
  • Scolding/punishment will cause the cat to avoid the person, not correct the issue
  • Minimize change and/or introduce it slowly
  • Keep litter boxes very clean and in low traffic areas away from food

Dogs

General Causes

  • Incomplete housetraining
  • Marking
  • Submissive behaviour
  • Excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Medical conditions and, similar to cats, the soft surface may be less painful, some of which include:
    • Degenerative illnesses (e.g. arthritis)
    • Illnesses like diabetes
    • Inflammation
    • Infection
    • Parasites

As Caregiver

  • Clean soiled areas with cleansers designed to help remove pet induced odors.
  • Punishment will not help, it will generally lead to the dog "sneaking" around
  • Keep dog supervised or confined (if supervision not always possible)
  • Increase frequency of outdoor trips
  • Reward appropriate urination

Rabbits

General Issues

A little harder to find good information here, but...

  • Urinary incontinence can have medical basis:
    • Neurological issues from injuries or other illnesses
    • Urinary bladder storage dysfunction
    • Estrogen-responsive urinary incontinence in females with a hysterectomy
    • Urinary tract infection
    • Anatomical anomalies
  • Dominance - the rabbit is attempting to become the top bunny in the house and that includes you.

As Caregiver

  • For medical issues, see a vet, there's no training option
  • For dominance issues, you'll need to train the rabbit out of it. Usually by blocking or controlling access to the areas or furniture the rabbit is urinating on

Sources and Further Reading

  1. Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline, 5th Edition. Housesoiling - Cats and Housesoiling - Dogs.
  2. VeterinaryPartner.com: Urinating on Beds
  3. Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Small Mammal, 2nd Edition. Incontinence, Urinary (Rabbit).
  4. House Rabbit Society: Training FAQ
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  • My neighbor and his wife would wake up to find their small, female, dog urinating on the husband in the night. This was a deliberate act and not a health issue. They attributed this to a dominance issue. – JoshDM Dec 9 '13 at 14:31
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    @JoshDM - How old was the dog? It could be cognitive dysfunction (senility) or actually fear. One of the cited fear reasons I read was the dog being afraid to jump down from the bed, a real possibility for a small dog. – John Cavan Dec 9 '13 at 14:38
  • 5 years old, so not senility. I'd go with fear, then. – JoshDM Dec 9 '13 at 15:17

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