Why Do Dogs Mark Their Territory?


Last Updated: July 22, 2022 | 4 min read | 16 Comments

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Dog lifting leg up peeing (caption: Why Do Dogs Mark Territory?)

We adopted our one-year-old dog, Kopa, who was neutered a little over a month before we adopted him. Within the first few hours of bringing him home, he marked in the same room three times. 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 an instinct for him, but cleaning up the messes was a nightmare for us. How do we stop his marking so we can trust him in the house? Here are some tips on why dogs mark their territory and how to stop it.

Why Dogs Mark Their Territory

Dogs use their urine (and sometimes feces) to mark areas they consider theirs. Marking their territory lets other dogs know that they are present. Urine also signifies the reproductive status of the dog and their ranking.

Does Neutering Stop Marking?

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 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

Three types of urination 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, he may display submissive postures during interactions.
  • Urination out of excitement is 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 consist of 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 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 rein to mark wherever he pleases. Stop along your walk every now and then and repeatedly say “go potty” 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 the continued practice of this is important.) By saying the command “go potty” and choosing the place for him to do his business, you are showing dominance and permitting him to go potty. I have used this tactic with my dog, Kopa, and he has responded great.

Check out these tips if your dog’s urine is killing your grass.

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 from going potty. After taking her to an obedience class, we learned how to stop this, and now she goes potty on command.

Dog Marking Territory In House

It is so frustrating when your dog pees in the house. Here are some tips to get them to stop.

How To Stop A Dog From Peeing In The House

Start by taking your dog out for regular potty breaks every one to two hours. It can be tedious, but as you get a better idea of how long he could last without going potty inside, you can extend this time further.

Keep your dog on a leash for at least two weeks in the house. After two weeks, gradually expose him to areas of the home without him being on a leash. As you build trust with him, you will feel more comfortable allowing him to roam freely throughout the house. If he goes two weeks without any accidents or marking in the house, it is safe to say he has trained appropriately. A 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 Spray

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Nature’s Miracle No More Marking spray is a stain and odor eliminator and 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.


The No-No’s Of Dog Marking

We know how frustrating it can be if your dog is marking in your home. The critical 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 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.

What If You Catch Your Dog Marking?

If you catch your dog in the act of marking, you can address the unwanted behavior with a gentle but firm “no” or “bad dog” so they correlate that behavior as undesirable. If there’s time, take your dog outside to finish his business (although he might not always go potty once out). You might clap loudly or fill a jar with change and shake it if the dog marks. These noises will startle the dog and potentially stop him.

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 research carefully to pick the right diaper for your pup.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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