Why Do Dogs Mark Territory?

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Dog lifting leg up peeingWithin the first few hours of bringing our newly adopted dog home, he had marked in the same room three different times. We had never experienced this with other dogs, so this was a new avenue for my husband and I. How do we stop his marking so we can trust him in the house?

A little background information, our dog, Kopa, is a treeing walker coonhound. He’s estimated to be just over one-year-old and got neutered a little over a month before we adopted him. He was used to being an outside dog, so when he had free roam of the house, he was ready to declare everything his own by lifting his leg. To say we were frustrated with his marking was an understatement. We knew that this was a natural instinct for him, but for us, cleaning up the messes was a nightmare.

When I saw this article subject on Canine Journal’s content calendar, I quickly mentioned my interest in it because it was something I was currently facing with my dog. Below is my experience with dogs marking their territory and some tips on how to stop it.

Why Dogs Mark Their Territory

Dogs use their urine (and sometimes feces) to mark areas they consider to be theirs. Marking their territory lets other dogs know that they are present. Urine also signifies the reproductive status of the dog and their ranking. Dogs who aren’t fixed (spayed or neutered) are more likely to mark than those who are fixed.

Medical Issues

Before determining if your dog is genuinely marking, you’ll want to rule out some medical issues.

  1. The first possible medical condition is incontinence, which is when a dog “leaks” or completely releases the bladder without meaning to. Most dogs who are incontinent don’t realize they’ve soiled.
  2. The second possible medical issue is your dog could have a urinary tract infection (UTI), which can cause a dog to release small amounts of urine frequently. Another sign of UTIs is if your dog is licking his genitalia excessively.
  3. The third possibility is that your dog has a disease or is on a medication that causes frequent urination.

Uncontrollable Urination

There are three types of urination that are considered “uncontrollable,” — submissive, excitement and anxiety.

  • Submissive urination is when your dog urinates during greetings, play, physical contact or punishment. If this is your dog’s problem, then he may display submissive postures during interactions.
  • Urination out of excitement is pretty self-explanatory, your dog gets over-excited and he urinates.
  • Urination from anxiety is due to your dog being overwhelmed with anxiousness.

New Element in the Environment

Is your dog marking in house suddenly? If there’s a new addition to the home or something else new in their environment, your dog may start marking his territory more. This can include more than just your home. It can also include the yard, the park you visit, the trail you walk or other locations he frequents. New elements in the environment could include people, animals, furniture or other objects.

How to Stop a Dog From Marking Outside

Is your dog marking territory on walks? If so, you may want to shorten your dog’s leash. Dogs are actually meant to walk beside us, not ahead of us pulling us along. By shortening the leash and walking with a purpose, your dog isn’t given free reign of marking wherever he pleases. Stop along your walk every now and then and say “go potty” repeatedly with your feet planted in one spot. Allow your dog to walk around you and sniff to find the perfect spot to potty in and praise him after he’s gone potty. (This won’t happen on the first try, so continued practice of this is important.) By saying the command “go potty” and choosing the place for him to do his business at, you are showing dominance and permitting him to go potty. I have used this tactic with my dog, Kopa, and he has responded great.

Female Dog Marking on Walks

When I first got my dog, Sally, she would mark continually on our walks. At the time, I didn’t realize she was marking, and she was stopping every few minutes to go potty. After taking her to an obedience class, we realized how to stop this (see the previous paragraph), and now she goes potty on command.

Dog Marking Territory in House

It is so frustrating when your dog pees in the house, I’ve experienced this with Kopa as I mentioned. The day we brought him home he marked three times in the same room within a couple of hours. We quickly realized this was a problem we needed to fix, so the leash went on him and stayed on him until we felt we could trust him.

How to Stop a Dog From Peeing in the House

We started with taking Kopa out for regular potty breaks every one to two hours to make sure he was potty trained. It was tedious, but as we got a better idea of how long he could last without going potty inside, we extended this time further to once in the morning, at lunchtime, in the afternoon, around dinner time and right before bedtime.

As I stated earlier, we also kept him on a leash for two weeks in the house. He could only go to areas of the house we took him to. Part of this was because of the obedience training we were doing at the same time, but another reason was because we didn’t want our dog peeing in the house without us even realizing it.

After two weeks of being on leash in the house, we gradually exposed him to areas of the home without him being on leash. As we built trust with him, we felt more comfortable allowing him to roam freely throughout the house. Our dog trainer told us that if he goes two weeks without any accidents or marking in the house, it is safe to say he is trained appropriately. Her rule of thumb is that it takes two weeks of consistency to train a dog for a specific task.

Is Your Dog Marking or Peeing?

Watch the video below to determine if your dog is marking or peeing.

Nature’s Miracle No More Marking Spray

Nature's Miracle No More Marking sprayView on Amazon

Nature’s Miracle No More Marking spray is a stain and odor eliminator as well as a marking deterrent. It is guaranteed to work, or you get your money back. How does it work as a dog marking deterrent spray? The spray leaves a lemongrass and cinnamon scent that discourages dogs from marking the same spot again.

Price

The No-No’s of Dog Marking

We know how frustrating it can be if your dog is marking in your home (trust me, I’ve been there). The important thing to remember is never to punish your dog. If you return home and find that your dog has marked in areas of your home, you should simply clean up the mess (with the spray above) and move on. A delayed punishment is unclear to a dog, and he won’t understand what he’s being punished for. If you catch your dog in the act of marking, that’s another story.

What If You Catch Your Dog Marking?

If we caught our dog marking, we quickly said, “No Kopa” with a loud voice and brought him outside to finish his business (although, he didn’t always go potty once outside). I’ve seen tips online of filling a jar with change and shaking it if the dog marks or clapping loudly. These noises will startle the dog and potentially stop him. I haven’t personally tried these tactics, so I cannot speak to them. The only thing that stopped Kopa was leading him by the collar outside.

Should You Get Your Dog Diapers?

If you’ve tried behavioral training and you’re still at a total loss, you may want to consider doggie diapers. There are different types from reusable to disposable and male to female, so make sure you read carefully to pick the right diaper for your pup.

What issues are you facing with your dog marking? Ask us, and we’ll try to help.

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Growing up, Kimberly used to get the sniffles when she was around dogs. Thankfully, she grew out of her allergy and is now able to play and snuggle with dogs as much as she wants! She and her husband adopted Sally, a four-year-old hound mix, in early 2017, and she has brought so much joy into their lives. Life as pet parents has been very rewarding.

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3 Comments on "Why Do Dogs Mark Territory?"

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Leah
My CockaPoo Franklin, is 8 yrs old he has compulsive obsessive disorder with marking it’s completely bonkers! He marks absolutely everything, always has! Our car tires, if I set grocery bag down, towels hanging down from a bed post, jacket arms on a banister, Legos on my son’s floor…this a.m. a chunk of ice I kicked walking down my driveway! He i swear is part blood hound, his nose is always going, and he just cant help himself, he has to mark any/everything that has a different scent. I don’t think there is any training for this obsessive compulsive behavior. Is there?
Rebecca
I’ve always wondered about this, makes total sense now, thank you!

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