marking is an animal's way of "staking a claim" to a space, area or
object which he perceives as his own. By marking this “property,” he
is letting other animals and people know he is claiming ownership.
Territorial marking can include barking to drive away intruders, using
parts of the body to rub scent on an object or urine marking.
marking is NOT a house-training issue nor is it limited to males.
Many “alpha” females will claim territory and guard it zealously from
intruders. To resolve this issue, you must determine the underlying
reason for your dog’s need to mark territory and address those issues.
marking is more common in dogs that have not been spayed or neutered
but even altered dogs may mark territory if there are other intact
animals in your home. Your dog may also mark his territory if he has
contact with a neighbor’s dogs outside your home. Even seeing stray
dogs through doors and windows may threaten your dog enough that he
will feel the need to mark his territory.
If you have
more than one dog in your home and there is not an obvious pack
hierarchy, or one animal tends to bully another, one or more dogs may
feel the need to urine mark. If there is instability in the pack, a
dog may urine mark to establish his dominance or it could be the
bullied dog’s way of expressing his anxiety.
marking is generally characterized as small amounts of urine on
vertical surfaces, although females especially will mark floors and
rugs. Your dog is marking territory if he stops to urinate frequently
when you take him for a walk.
will mark new items in their environment: a visiting friend’s
backpack, a shopping bag, or even other dogs! Familiar objects that
are returned with unfamiliar smells or dirty clothes that have the
scent of another animal on them can incite urine marking.
is a dominant type of urine marking although your pet could still be
urine marking if he does not exhibit this posture.
Now that we
know what urine marking is, let’s see what we can do to stop it.
and most obvious solution is, of course, to spay or neuter as soon
as possible! Hopefully this will keep you from ever having to deal
with the problem at all. Remember that if your dog is allowed to
urine-mark for a significant period of time, a pattern can be
established that is difficult to break.
your dog is marking in response to seeing other dogs through doors
or windows, restrict his access to these areas and do not allow him
to watch what’s going on outside. If he has a conflict with the dog
next door, think about putting up a privacy fence or using a small
chain link kennel so that his outside “territory” is not close to
have other dogs and conflicts arise within the pack, this can lead
to urine marking. Help to resolve conflicts quickly. Your
dogs will establish a dominance hierarchy and you must support the
"pecking order" to help maintain stability in the pack. Always
support the dominant dog's right to assert his position.
dog must be allowed to control the favorite spot in the chair next to
you and you should allow him to push dogs that are lower in the
pecking order out of the way when you are petting or playing. The
dominant dog should be allowed to take toys and chewies away from dogs
that are lower in the hierarchy and he should always be feed first.
Don't undermine the pecking order by trying to treat all of the dogs
equally or by stopping the “alpha” dog from asserting his position.
And don’t be surprised if the “alpha” dog is your “sweet little baby
girl!” I have found that females are much more likely to dominate
multi-dog households and they can be more stubborn about training
issues. Kinda like humans, huh?
key to maintaining pack stability is being sure that every human is at
the top of the dominance hierarchy. Have every family member practice
basic commands and rewards with all of the dogs, especially making the
dog sit quietly for attention. Make your puppy “sit” before you feed
him, pet him, attach his leash or throw a ball for him. This
non-confrontational training will establish your dominance and
requires your puppy or dog to work for the rewards he wants from you.
With strong human leadership at the top of the dominance ladder, the
dogs will sort out the lower placements more peacefully.
find a soiled area, be sure to clean it thoroughly. If the dog
uses certain spots repeatedly, try to make these areas unattractive
or inaccessible. If you cannot limit the dog’s access to these
areas, try feeding or playing with him in these locations.
Associating the area with other activities may help change his
perception of the location. If your dog is attracted to new
items in his environment, be sure and put shopping bags, purses or
your mother-in-law’s luggage in a closet, on a table or somewhere
else out of reach.
spouse or roommate moving into the home can make a dog feel as
though his placement in the pack is threatened and he may begin
urine marking. A new baby with the accompanying changes in
routine and loss of attention to the pet can also set off incidences
of urine marking. Help your pet make friends with
the new family member to reduce the stress of the situation.
Let your spouse walk the dog, feed him and practice commands and
rewarding him with treats. Introduce your dog to the baby and
understand his curiosity over this bundle of blankets that screams
and smells funny (babies are a smorgasbord of new smells to a dog!)
Don’t yell at the dog every time he goes near the infant and make
sure good things, like petting and treats, happen when the baby is
If you have
been letting your dog run loose in the house, start using your crate
to confine him when you have to leave or cannot supervise him. If you
didn’t use a crate when the dog was younger, get one now and begin to
crate-train the dog. Watch your dog constantly when he is inside
and/or tether him to you with a leash so he can’t sneak off and urine
mark in the house.
walking, use leash corrections to prevent your dog from urine
marking around the neighborhood or through the park.
Correcting the dog for this type of behavior when ever and where
ever it occurs can help reduce the problem inside the home.
dog to an obedience training class. Training your dog can help
boost his confidence and security, which can lessen his need to mark
and claim territory. The classes will also help socialize him
with other dogs and can help him learn to accept the presence of
other animals in "his" space.
Remember, don’t punish your dog for marking the
furniture or other surfaces if you did not catch him in the act.
Punishment after the fact is useless.