pet marking territory - behavior training

Trying to get a dog from marking their territory is like trying to prevent them from barking. A seemingly impossible feat, right? Without a doubt, accidents, spraying or marking all come down to one thing: you want it to stop. 

But how does a frustrated dog owner do this? The team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is here with some tips on how to curb urine marking in dogs and some recommendations to alleviate the smell.

What’s the Deal with Urine Marking?

Marking is a way for your dog to communicate with other dogs and animals. It’s not their normal way of relieving themself, because the amount of urine involved in marking is minimal as compared to when your pet just “has to go”. 

This behavior can be one of the reasons behind why many dogs are left at animal shelters. In fact, along with aggression, marking is one of the top reasons why pets are dropped off at humane societies and animal shelters. If only the former owners knew more about this behavior, why it happens, and how to stop it, fewer dogs would end up in pounds.

Marking is a normal behavior, but it is something that can be addressed through training. Some dogs have more of a tendency to mark, but this behavior can be stopped through early training. 

How to Stop Accidents

Before you assume that your dog is just naughty, it is important to have their health checked out. Urinary tract infections, kidney disease, cognitive issues, diabetes, and other medical problems can cause a dog to urinate more often or become incontenent. 

If your pet is healthy, there are some recommendations you can follow on preventing marking in the home.

  1. Teach your dog housetraining skills or revisit them – If you haven’t been successful with teaching your dog where to do their business, now is the time. Many pets who are adopted have some issues with lack of formal training. Speak to your veterinarian or professional trainer to get your pet enrolled in a training and socialization class. You also need to treat your dog as if they were a puppy just learning the ropes. Positive reward training, patience, taking your pet outside often, and using other methods will be effective.
  2. Stow away new items – Many dogs want to spray on furniture or items as soon as you bring them into the home. This is just their (unwelcomed) way of saying, “This is mine!” Keep these items off of the floor level (when possible) or away from areas where your pet can spray on them.
  3. Have your pet spayed/neutered – Unaltered animals are more likely to spray when they are still sexually intact. This is true in both male and female dogs. In fact, through these spay or neuter surgeries, up to 60% of dogs no longer have the problem of indoor marking.  Spay and neuter surgeries not only decrease the likelihood of your dog marking their territory, it is also a good way to prevent certain diseases and discourage your pet from escaping and becoming lost.
  4. Discourage wildlife and other animals from hanging out in the yard – If you don’t have a good fence around the perimeter of the home, you may have outside invaders. Discourage random cats, dogs, and wildlife from the yard by putting up a fence, or by cutting down weeds and tall grasses and other places where animals hide.
  5. Deep clean any accidents – Dogs are often “repeat offenders” on spots where they have already done their handiwork. Avoid this by using an enzyme based cleaner that is designed to eliminate odors.
  6. Consider using belly bands – While dog diapers and bands aren’t the ideal solution in lieu of housetraining, in the meantime, a band can prevent accidents. These bands fit around the dog’s waist and in front of the groin, much like a diaper, to discourage the mess.
  7. Block off pet-free rooms in the house – If your pet is having ongoing incontinence issues or those related to territorial spraying, keep some rooms dog-free. It is easier to watch your pet closely if they are only able to roam a few spaces in the home, as opposed to having multiroom access.

Urine Marking in Dogs

If you are battling the war on potty accidents, we feel your pain. Territorial urine marking in dogs can be a big problem, making everyone, including your four-legged friend, unhappy. 
For help with housetraining or to schedule a wellness appointment, please contact us. We can help!