Urine Marking, Part 2

How to keep your dog from urine marking indoors. Learn why your dog marks indoors – and get 8 tips to end indoor marking. Also, The Dog Trainer takes on outdoor marking etiquette.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
May 6, 2013
Episode #197

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Urine Marking, Part 2

In my last episode, I talked about some common reasons why dogs urine mark – sometimes to mark territory, sometimes maybe just to signal “I was here,” and sometimes out of excitement or stress. Marking is usually normal, but marking indoors is a big problem in the opinion of most humans, and also it’s often a clue that something’s wrong. This week, 8 tips if your dog marks inside your home. Plus a bonus: marking etiquette.

Tip #1: Neuter Your Dog

First things first. Is Mr. Marker neutered? Although many a neutered dog marks, and so does many a female dog, intact male dogs are the champion urine markers of the world. Neuter Mr. Marker, and you can expect to see him mark less or even stop marking altogether.

A surgical solution might seem over the top here, but it’s good public policy to neuter or spay your dog anyway. Plenty of accidental puppies are born every day, and a high proportion of them wind up homeless.

Figure out what gets your dog’s waterworks going. What happens right before he marks?

While you’re at the vet, ask her to investigate possible medical causes for the behavior. I talked about some potential issues last week.

Tip #2: Figure Out What Gets Your Dog Going

Your next step, assuming that Mr. Marker is neutered and healthy, is to figure out what sets his waterworks going. Don’t waste your time trying to play mind reader; all you need to do is take note of what happens right before he marks. Did a visitor just come in? Did a particular dog just walk by your house? Is Mr. M. having a big bout of marking this week, and you happen to know that your neighbor’s dog is an unspayed female going into heat? (Even neutered dogs may respond to females in estrus.) Does your dog mark on newly delivered packages, or new furniture? When you know what circumstances your dog marks in, you’ll have a better idea of what tactics you need.

Tip #3: Assess for Anxiety

If your dog marks partly out of stress or anxiety, you’ll need to address that. Does he get super agitated when people come over? Even if he’s friendly, that over-the-top excitement can lead straight to marking. Try having Mr. Marker greet visitors outside. That may be less stressful to begin with, plus if he does mark, it’s not a big deal. Or let him rest in a crate behind a closed door until the visitors settle in, then bring him out to greet them when he’s calm. Ask your guests to greet him quietly or ignore him – this helps stressy dogs relax.

See also How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking at Guests