How do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house? — the age-old question among dog owners. Territory marking is your dog’s way of leaving their “calling card” and putting a mark on what’s theirs. But when this “territory” is your favorite rug or couch, it may take all the restraint you’ve got not to give the dog away.
And you don’t have to. To a dog, territory marking is normal behavior and an effective communication strategy — it’s your dog’s way of letting other dogs know who’s boss!
Lucky for you, The answer to “How do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house” has a pretty simple answer: Training. And training goes a long way towards a happy home for both you and your pooch.
First Things First, What Is Territory Marking?
Before answering “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house,” you need to know why it’s happening. Even with the best dog training books at your disposal, if you don’t understand what territory marking is, you won’t make a lot of progress.
Therefore, we thought it wise to explain this behavior before giving you an answer to the question, “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?”
Most people confuse territory marking with urination, but they’re different. Your dog pees in the house because they want to relieve their full bladder, and they’re not potty trained.
Marking, on the other hand, doesn’t involve full emptying of the bladder. Instead, the canine releases a small amount of urine as a way of communication.
You see, dog urine has chemicals known as pheromones that provide essential information like the dog’s gender, age, reproductive status, and health — essential olfactory reading for dogs. It’s for this reason that you’ll often see dogs smelling other canines’ pee.
Dogs begin marking at puberty, which is around six to nine months of age. This behavior is typical of, but not limited to, male dogs.
When is urine marking okay?
As we’ve already mentioned, marking is your dog’s way of communicating. Don’t be surprised to see your dog stopping and sniffing once in a while during your walks.
Each time the dog stops to sniff, he or she is reading a message left by another canine. And they leave their message by marking their territory before they go. This behavior is completely acceptable if they’re doing it outdoors. The problem comes in when they’re marking almost every spot in your house.
Territory marking triggers
Apart from age, other factors may cause your dog to start marking. One common reason is a change in their environment. If you just brought your dog home from a shelter, they may feel the need to mark their territory to create a sense of familiarity.
Your dog may also start marking when another canine visits your home. It’s the dog’s way of saying that’s his territory. A change of houses, moving or furniture, change of routine, death of a housemate, and other stressful conditions may also cause your dog to start marking.
This behavior is your dog’s way of creating a sense of normalcy. Just like you’d place a picture of your family on your desk on your first day of work to make it feel at home, your dog feels like they belong when they mark.
How Do I Stop My Dog from Marking His Territory in the House?
Now back to the question, “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?”
First, you should know that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for territory marking. We advise using a combination of these tips on how to stop dog marking for the best results.
And before you begin, it would be best to try and figure out why your furry friend is marking. Is it due to changes you’ve introduced in their routine or your house, or is it an age thing?
Understanding the cause of their behavior will make it easier to answer, “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?”
A good place to start
The first step in figuring out “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?” is employing careful management. Keeping a close eye on your fur baby at all times will do wonders in preventing this unwanted behavior from recurring.
But don’t just watch them closely. Take a few measures to discourage this behavior. For instance, if your dog likes marking in one particular room, it may help to restrict access to that area.
If restricting access doesn’t fix the problem, try confining them in their crate for a while. Dogs know better than to soil where they sleep. So it may stop their bad behavior.
Some people also find it useful to place the dog’s food in the areas they like marking. Because the dog won’t pee where they eat, it may help stop their bad behavior.
Make your furry friend feel at home
Dogs feel uncomfortable in new living situations. Whether you just brought them home or you have a new house guest, your dog will feel the need to mark their territory to claim what they believe is theirs.
Therefore, if you’ve recently had similar changes in your home, it may help to make your fur baby feel comfortable in their new space. For instance, if you’ve just rescued a dog, it will help to give him or her some time to get used to their new home.
Make the dog feel at home by playing with him, feeding him, and spending time with him.
If it’s the case of unfamiliar faces in the home, give your dog some time to get used to them as well. Have your new house guest walk the dog and play with him so that they get to know each other.
The more your dog feels comfortable around the new people and changes in living conditions, the faster they’ll stop marking in the house.
Assert yourself as the pack leader
If you’re like most dog owners, your dog is your best friend, and you’ll stop at nothing to convey how much you love them. There’s nothing wrong with giving your dog the VIP treatment.
However, you still need to lay down some rules, boundaries, and limitations because canines crave structure. If you allow your dog to do whatever they want, it will cause anxiety, especially in a multiple dog household.
As a result, answering “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?” becomes far more difficult. For this reason, you need to make sure your dog knows you are the pack leader, and they follow your lead. This way, you’ll have an easier time getting them to stop marking in the house.
Prepare in advance
In most cases, dogs start marking when they reach full sexual maturity. Therefore, if your dog is yet to get to this stage, it’s advisable to consider neutering. While it’s not a guaranteed fix, neutering reduces the likelihood to mark by stopping hormonal influence.
“How do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?” Snip snip is one answer.
However, it’s best to combine neutering with constant supervision. When you sense your dog is about to mark, startle them with a hand clap or a slight shout to indicate that it’s terrible behavior and open the door so the dog can go outside.
Once they pee outside, give them treats to teach them that peeing outside is the way to go. You’ll need to do this a couple of times for the dog to learn and avoid making in the house.
Manage stress properly
In such a case, you should teach your dog that it’s okay to spend time away from you. And this includes when you’re at home. Keeping departures and arrivals low-key will also reduce tension for the already stressed dog.
However, if this doesn’t work, it’s advisable to seek professional help from a trainer or animal behaviorist.
If you’re asking, “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?” and you have several neighbors with dogs, it may be a good idea to investigate the outdoors.
The other dogs in your area may be coming close to your home, making your furry friend feel insecure. As a result, your dog may feel the need to mark their territory.
If this is the case, it may help to befriend your neighbors and get your pets acquainted. This way, your dog will no longer feel threatened when the other canines invade their “territory.”
Break the bad habit, even outdoors
Sometimes the practice of territory marking is so engrained in your dog that even when you remove environmental stressors and choose to neuter, they keep doing it.
In such scenarios, you have to be tough and establish strict limitations, even for marking outdoors.
When you’re walking your dog, allow them to empty their bladder when they need to but interrupt them as soon as you notice they want to mark the area. Interruption can be something as simple as walking away as if you haven’t seen the dog wants to mark the spot.
So another answer to “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?” is to be a boss. Even you don’t want to.
Make soiled areas unappealing
Most dogs like marking the same spot over and over again. And they can tell it’s the same spot they marked previously by smelling the pee there.
Therefore, to discourage them from continuing this habit, you need to make sure every area they mark is spotless and free of pee-odor. The best way to do this is to use an enzymatic cleaner. Such cleaners break down the stains as opposed to masking them with a fragrance.
Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners because they smell like pee and will only encourage the dog to keep marking. And if you’ve just moved to a new home that previously had pets, it may help to have it professionally cleaned.
Alternatively, you can use a black light to spot potential problem areas and clean them thoroughly. It may seem tedious, but you’ll be glad you did it.
Outsmart your dog
If you’ve tried everything and your dog is still marking their territory all over your house, it may be time to try some drastic measures. One perfect solution for such a case is to use a belly band.
A belly band is a tube-top kind of fabric that goes around your dog’s waistline covering their penis. With the belly band on, it will be impossible for your dog’s pee to get on your furniture, floors, or any other area because the fabric absorbs all the pee.
While this isn’t a long-term solution, it will surely save you the headache of occasionally cleaning to get rid of your dog’s “accidents.” Just make sure you combine it with the other tips on this list for even better results.
Yes, that’s right, one of the more bizarre answers to “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?” is essentially a doggie diaper.
The addition of a new cat or dog to your family may also lead to territorial marking, and in most cases, there will be a significant conflict between the pets.
For this reason, you need to find a way to maintain peace in your home. Answering “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house” gets a lot more complicated when other pets are involved. But there are several things you can do. These include:
Dogs and cats have a highly receptive sense of smell. Therefore, before introducing them to each other, give them some time to sniff each other’s scents. Doing so will provide them with a sense of awareness and will make them more comfortable around their new siblings.
Separation is key
When you’re pets are getting to know each other, it may also help to separate them during mealtime. This way, none of the pets eats each other’s food, and they don’t get aggressive when they’re eating.
Another genius trick to get them accustomed to each other is to place their food on each side of a closed door. With this setup, they’ll smell each other’s presence when eating, which enhances their bonding time.
Give each pet their territory
Just like people, animals like having their own space. Therefore, ensure, each of your pets has a designated area where they can sleep, eliminate, and rest, without getting disturbed by their “companions.”
Socialize at a young age
If possible, it’s best to bring your pets together when they’re still young. At a young age, they’re less aggressive and more likely to get used to each other compared to when they’re older.
Don’t make things worse
It’s frustrating to have to clean up after your dog every time. However, as tempting as it may be to reprimand him after the fact, it’s not the best approach. Some people insist the best answer to “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house” is to “rub his nose in it.” It really isn’t.
Punishing your dog after they’ve already marked the area won’t solve the problem because they won’t connect your displeasure to their act. Not to mention, it will only make your fur baby scared of you, and they’ll hide when they need to mark their territory.
The best way to fix the problem is to intervene when the dog is marking. You can do so by startling him or clapping your hands and opening the door to get the dog outside. This way, they’ll connect your reaction to their actions.
The most important tip of all
It’s also essential to rule out any medical condition, especially if you’ve tried behavioral modification without success.
Some medical conditions may resemble marking, and no amount of behavioral modification will get your dog to stop. For instance, if your dog has a urinary tract infection (UTI), they’ll have a constant need to go, and they’ll only pee in small amounts throughout the day.
Therefore, make sure you see your vet and ensure everything is okay.
If you’ve been asking yourself, “how do I stop my dog from marking his territory in the house?”, now you have the answer. Troubleshoot the reasons your dog may be into this new habit and find the right solution for the problem. And if it’s a sudden behavior change you can’t explain, it’s always best to rule out any medical conditions.
Was this guide on how to stop dog marking useful? Which tip are you excited to try? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!
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