I’ll admit it. Back in the day before I became a dog trainer, I did think that dogs had accidents out of spite and that one solution for such housetraining mistakes was to rub the poor dog’s nose in it… even hours after the fact. Thank goodness I learned the error of my ways. However, the myth of “the spiteful pooper” prevails. Many people still claim that their dogs are peeing everywhere because they’re mad and trying to make a point to their owners. Whenever I have a client who hangs on to this belief, I share with them what Dr. Patricia McConnell stated in her book, “The Other End Of The Leash”:
A dog owner who assumes that his dog defecated in the living room because she’s “mad” at him for leaving her alone during the day is forgetting that dogs are fascinated by feces. Dogs spend long periods of time checking out poop, sniffing it, and sometimes eating it. The Navajo word for dog sounds something like “thlee shaw” and means “eater of horse poop.” It makes no sense that your dog would offer you such a wonderful present if she were mad at you. Some people think that their dog is defecating on the rug to spite them, so they yell at the dog, perhaps rubbing her nose in it or, worse, physically hurting her. Dogs who are treated this way cower in terror (or guilt) when their owners return home but are much more likely to defecate on the rug out of nervousness or fear in the house, because who knows what that maniac will do next time he comes home.
Well said, Dr. McConnell. Well said.