How to stop your dog urine marking its territory in the house
Don’t confuse urine marking with wanting to pee
If you find large puddles of urine on the floor it is more likely that the dog had to pee and couldn’t or didn’t want to go out.
With urine marking the dog deposits a smaller amount of urine. Marking in the house is usually done to an upright surface such as a doorway, table leg or piece of furniture. The dog will lift his hind leg and mark urine on practically any object in your house. Quite often the object is something new or different with unfamiliar smells that has come into the house but not necessarily so. He is also likely to mark items that he feels belong to him such as anything that he has become possessive about including you. He thinks you are his possession and any objects related to you are also his possessions.
Keep reading if urine marking is the problem or click here for potty training
Why do dogs lift their leg and mark territory with urine?
Dog urine marking is not a bathroom training issue but rather an issue concerning a whole range of instinctive behaviors. Your dog may be fully house trained and would not dream of peeing in the house but to a dog lifting his leg to scent mark is not the same as wanting to have a pee.
We as humans tend to think of dog urine as something unpleasant but to a dog it is something of great interest. A dog leaves it’s scent in urine to tell other dogs a message. This message could be about whose territory it is, about the dog’s social order or advertising mating availability.
Dogs use urine marking to show their dominance or to claim something as belonging to them. Dogs with feelings of insecurity or who have seperation anxiety may also mark, as territory marking builds the dog’s confidence.
Do all dogs urine mark inside the house?
Most dogs that are neutered or spayed at an early age do not mark in the house. Prevention is better than cure.
Male dogs that are not castrated are more likely to mark than castrated dogs.
Although male dogs are more likely to mark urine than females it is not unknown for a female dog to scent mark too. Often a female dog coming into heat or during it will mark to advertise her availability. A dominant female will also mark. Females don’t usually mark inside the house if they are house trained
Female dogs may also urinate over a spot where another dog has urinated (but not usually in the house if they are house trained)
Small breeds tend to mark in the house more than larger dogs.
Two or more dogs living together in the same house may regard each other as competition and are more prone to urine marking. Urine marking can be a dominance issue. There may be no problem with one dog but when a second dog is introduced into the house then this may be the beginning of marking problems.
Why has my dog suddenly begun marking in the house when he didn’t do it before?
Usually it is because of feelings of insecurity or a perceived threat. This perceived threat, for example, can be an introduction of a new baby, a new pet, a visitor or even a new piece of furniture. The smell of other animals on your footwear or clothing can also trigger a dog to feel the need to mark his territory.
For example, a new baby in the home brings new sounds, smells, and people, as well as changes in routine. Your dog may not be getting as much attention as previously. Changes cause him to feel anxious, which may cause him to mark.
Some dogs feel the need to lift their leg and pee on all new things that enter your house, shopping bags, visitors belongings, new furniture, children’s toys etc. Many of these dogs are lacking in confidence and by marking new objects it makes them feel more secure having deposited their own scent on these objects
Some dogs will never mark in their own house but will embarrass you by marking if you visit a friend or relative’s home. Your dog feels less secure there and feels the need to make it more comfortable to him by laying down a few of his own familiar scents.
You might also be interested in reading this Article: Adult Dog Started Peeing In The House
Even a previously house trained neutered male dog will urine mark under certain circumstances. This doesn’t mean it will become a regular problem. He may urine mark one or twice in a new home and then never do it again.
How to stop your dog marking urine in the house
Below are some tips to prevent or stop your dog peeing in the house:
For pet dogs, early neutering will stop marking behavior in the majority of dogs.
Neutering at an early age can prevent the habit forming.
For older dogs, neutering may still have the desired effect but marking in the house may have become a habit that you will have to break. Try the supervision method below.
In one study the following was found. “Our research shows that neither age at time of neutering nor duration of the problem behavior has influence on the likelihood that a behavior will change following neutering, thus one need not think that because a male dog has been engaging in problem urine marking or aggressive behavior for five years that it is too late to consider neutering. “Center for Companion Animal Health, UC Davis”
Testosterone seems to play a role in urine marking. At least one study has shown that neutering a dog at any age will help prevent it. It can’t be guaranteed that neutering a dog is going to magically cure this problem but if you don’t neuter a male dog, your chances of breaking the habit are greatly reduced.
Of course neutering isn’t always an option as you may wish to breed your dog.
Supervise and Break the Habit
You MUST catch him in the act! DOGS LEARN QUICKLY FROM THIS
Close supervision is necessary. You must be dedicated to stop the marking behavior of your dog and you must be consistent. A couple of weeks or often much less time of intense supervision and correction can save you a lifetime of tearing your hair out trying to find a quick fix for the problem. Some people have reported that it has only taken a day or two using the intense supervision method.
Confine your dog to one area of the house where you can watch him. Shut doors to other areas of the house or barricade them off with baby gates or improvise with whatever is at hand.
If barricading is not possible another option is to put your dog on a retractable lead while he is in the house with you and for you to have total control at all times.
Make yourself a Shaker Bottle or Shaker Can
A shaker can is simply an empty cola can with a several coins inside it. The opening is taped over to prevent the coins flying out. It makes a lot of noise when you shake it up and down.
A shaker bottle is a plastic bottle with some small pebbles or coins placed inside.
Watch your dog for any signs (such as sniffing and circling) that he is even thinking about marking. The moment he begins to lift his leg shake the can once only to get his attention. The loud noise should startle him and interrupt what he is doing. As he looks towards where the noise has come from. Give him the command in a stern voice ‘NO PEE’. Sometimes throwing the can in his general direction works well too but be careful not to hit him with it as you only want to startle him not harm him.
OK, so you have stopped him peeing once. Now you have to be consistent and diligent and continue with the behavior modification each and every time you see him attempt to mark urine.
Do not rant, rave or smack your dog at any time. Punishment will make an insecure dog more insecure.
This method is not intended for house training your puppy, only for urine marking. Potty training is another issue.
You may wish to read this article: Chihuahua Potty-Training and Housebreaking
Praise him when he pees where you want him to
Don’t forget to praise your dog when he marks in an appropriate place. If you are outside and he marks on a tree or other acceptable object or area tell him what a good boy he is. Tell him, ‘Pee here, good boy’ in a happy voice. Dogs learn quickly from positive responses to their behavior.
The message you are trying to get across to him is that urine marking isn’t bad, but that marking inside the house isn’t such a good idea.
When you go out
Dogs who suffer separation anxiety may pee while you are out. They are not peeing out of spite because you left them, dogs just don’t think like this. They are feeling anxious at being left alone. Try leaving them an item of your worn clothing with your familiar smells on it. This just might be enough to settle their anxiety.
Confinement is the only answer for some dogs
Some dogs will never be able to be trusted with the run of the house. Although inconvenient to you it may be necessary to close doors to certain rooms and only allow freedom in the rooms he can be trusted. Another alternative is to use Belly Bands.
Cleaning is important
You must thoroughly clean areas where your dog has peed in the past and completely remove the scent to discourage your dog from re-offending in the same place. Use a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water and wash the soiled areas well.
Avoid using ammonia based products to clean dog urine. One of the ingredients of dog urine is ammonia and he may well be encouraged to re-offend in the same area. Remember, your dog’s sense of smell is a hundred times better than yours.
If you think your dog is likely to urine mark in your friend’s house don’t give him the opportunity to do so. Keep him on a leash at all times. You can walk him around the new environment on the leash and if he gives the slightest hint that he may cock his leg give the leash a quick short tug and tell him ‘NO’. Or you could take your Shaker Can with you. You may eventually be able to trust him but if the house you are visiting has pets living there it could be a very challenging task.
If your dog has newly acquired the habit of urine marking since bringing a new baby home you will need to reassure him that he is still loved and part of the family. Involve him in fun activities while the baby is around making the baby and associated baby smells less of a threat to him.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to stop your dog peeing everywhere in the house, on your furniture and other objects.
Belly Bands may be a solution when all else has failed.
As with any behavior problem, there may be an underlying medical condition which is causing the marking. Get your vet to check him out.