My Dog is Marking in the House
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Does your dog lift their leg and pee inside the house? It could be on any surface, place or object. This means your pet wants to make its presence known and wants to mark its territory. While this may be perfectly normal dog behavior, it is also normal for you to get frustrated and want to change this habit. Knowing the causes can help you identify the best method to stop constant indoor territorial marking. After that, it's up to you to explain the rules of the house to your dog, in a way that they can understand.
In this new article from AnimalWised ‘My Dog is Marking in the House’, we cover some techniques to understand and prevent this behavior, before your dog takes over the entire home.
The importance of marking territory for dogs
Unlike humans, who see urine as something unpleasant, dogs consider differently and not solely on a physiological level. Dogs use the smell of urine in order to send messages to other dogs, information related to personal territory, social hierarchy and mating availability. In this way, dogs use marking to advertise their presence, show authority, and define ownership over objects, places and even people.
Another possibility is that dogs suddenly start marking in new places because they are experiencing stress of some kind. In this case, your dog may be feeling separation anxiety, which causes feelings of insecurity to emerge. Experts indicate that marking territory has the ability to build the confidence of our canine companions. Alternatively, your dog may also be feeling threatened by a new situation or a sudden change in the environment or household dynamics.
For example, moving or remodeling the house, the arrival of a new baby, a new pet, a new partner, a visitor or even a remodeling of the house may cause a dog to feel threatened. If other animals are present, especially dogs and cats, your dog may be alerted by their body odor. They may then mark the places where it has been, including shoes, carpets and pieces of clothing.
It is important to be aware that most dogs that have been sterilized at an early age do not tend to mark territory indoors. However, it is better, and also healthier for your pet, to anticipate this behavior rather than attempt to cure it.
Urinating and marking are two different things
We must be careful not to confuse marking using urine with actual urination. For dogs, the act of marking territory with urine is not the same as relieving a full bladder. By this, we mean that even if your dog is well trained and does not relieve itself in the home, this does not mean that it is wrong for them to mark their territory. A dog's motivation in this case is totally different, constituting a different form of behavior.
When a dog marks territory, only a small amount of urine is deposited. However, if you find large puddles of urine on the floor, this means that your dog has released the full contents of their bladder instead.
Marking in the house is usually done on a vertical surface such as a door, a piece of furniture or any other object, no matter how strange it may seem to you. They have even been known to defecate on the wall. These objects are usually new, with a different or unfamiliar smell, although your dog may mark them repeatedly they like them. In this way, elements or spaces in the house can become an act of object possessiveness. This can include anything in the home, including yourself.
If your dog suddenly starts constantly marking territory inside the house, this may be due to a bladder infection or a urinary tract infection where the urge to ‘unload’ is very urgent and overwhelming. This may imply urinary incontinence which is usually a physiological issue requiring veterinary treatment.
How to prevent my dog from marking territory inside the home
At AnimalWised, our emphasis is always on anticipating and preventing the problem. For instance, neutering at an early age helps to prevent the formation of different types of habits. Sterilization in general can eradicate behavior such as marking territory inside the house in most dogs. For older dogs, sterilization may work although it does not have the same effect and, in this case, it is up to you to break the habit. Try the following supervision based training techniques:
- Catch your dog in the act and immediately correct the behavior. They will begin to sense that this behavior is incorrect.
- Close supervision or an ‘intense supervision method’ is vital. With commitment, dedication, and luck, a couple of weeks (or sometimes less) will be sufficient.
- Even if this sounds counterproductive, don't limit your dog's access to water. In fact, it’s better for your dog to drink more. Drinking water helps purify the urinary system and prevents the buildup of bacteria that may make the situation worse.
- During this process, your dog should stay in a part of the house visible to you. Close doors to other parts of the house, or limit his access to other places where there is marking with the use of barricades.
- Observe your dog's behavior and watch for pre-marking cues such as sniffing and circling. Fill a can or plastic bottle half full with small stones and, the moment they start to lift their leg, shake the can to get their attention. This will serve as an interruption and break his focus. When they turn to look at the source of the sound, this is your moment to firmly give the command “No!”
- Praise and reward them when they modify their behavior, peeing where you want them to and marking in the right place, even if it is outside the house. Dogs learn quickly from positive responses to their actions. The message you want to send to your dog will be that marking is not bad, but marking indoors is not appropriate.
- If your dog is marking because he is experiencing separation anxiety, you can try leaving them with an object or item that has your scent on it whenever you are absent. This may be enough to resolve their anxiety.
- A dog's sense of smell is very powerful. Thoroughly clean any place that has been marked, removing all traces of the scent. Otherwise, the dog will want to return there and mark again. Avoid ammonia-based cleaning products. Ammonia, being naturally found in urine, will make the dog even more attracted, while you will not know why.
If you want to read similar articles to My Dog is Marking in the House, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.