How do I stop my dog from marking?

Question:

My 9-month-old Basset is house trained, but every now and then we find a wet spot. I think he is marking. How do I stop this behavior?

dog marking

By Brian Lee, Dog Trainer & Behavioral Counselor

Dogs urinate for multiple reasons:

  • To relieve their bladders (this requires housebreaking)
  • To mark (usually male dogs releasing a small amount of urine by lifting their leg on vertical surfaces)
  • Because they are excited (reuniting with their owner, reacting to high voices, etc.)
  • Because they are afraid (showing subservience)

Marking, in general, is the hardest to resolve. Marking is driven by two main factors – hormones  and insecurity. Make sure your dog is neutered. The testosterone in male dogs triggers the need  to mark (it takes about a month for testosterone to leave the body after neutering). Although  marking is primarily hormone driven, it is also triggered by insecurity. Any change in your dog’s environment can cause insecurity such as a new animal in the house or access to a room that is unfamiliar. If the insecurity is due to a new environment, spend more time in that area until your dog feels comfortable in it. Dogs don’t generally mark where they “live”, so ensuring your pet feels at home in every room will help reduce the tendency to mark. If marking is only happening in one specific spot, make that area inaccessible by blocking it off or using a scat mat to deter your dog from marking. Be aware that your dog can learn to mark by watching other dogs mark. Another reason dogs will feel insecure is being left alone to long (more then five hours) Being left alone longer then accustom or time of day.

My favorite way to address your dog’s insecurity is to be a strong leader. Nothing is more effective in giving your dog a sense of security and peace of mind. Leadership is effective in solving most behavioral problems.

Hope that helps!

Brian Lee


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