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Urine marking is an animal’s way of "staking a claim" to a space, area or object which he perceives as his own. By marking this “property,” he is letting other animals and people know he is claiming ownership.
Territorial marking can include barking to drive away intruders, using parts of the body to rub scent on an object or urine marking.
Urine marking is NOT a house-training issue nor is it limited to males. Many “alpha” females will claim territory and guard it zealously from intruders. To resolve this issue, you must determine the underlying reason for your dog’s need to mark territory and address those issues.
Territorial marking is more common in dogs that have not been spayed or neutered but even altered dogs may mark territory if there are other intact animals in your home. Your dog may also mark his territory if he has contact with a neighbor’s dogs outside your home. Even seeing stray dogs through doors and windows may threaten your dog enough that he will feel the need to mark his territory.
If you have more than one dog in your home and there is not an obvious pack hierarchy, or one animal tends to bully another, one or more dogs may feel the need to urine mark. If there is instability in the pack, a dog may urine mark to establish his dominance or it could be the bullied dog’s way of expressing his anxiety.
Urine marking is generally characterized as small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces, although females especially will mark floors and rugs. Your dog is marking territory if he stops to urinate frequently when you take him for a walk.
Many animals will mark new items in their environment: a visiting friend’s backpack, a shopping bag, or
even other dogs! Familiar objects that are returned with unfamiliar smells or dirty clothes that have the scent of another animal
on them can incite urine marking.
Leg-lifting is a dominant type of urine marking although your pet could still be urine marking if he does not exhibit this posture.
Now that we know what urine marking is, let’s see what we can do to stop it.
The first and most obvious solution is, of course, to spay or neuter as soon as possible! Hopefully
this will keep you from ever having to deal with the problem at all. Remember that if your dog is
allowed to urine-mark for any period of time, a pattern can be established that is difficult to break.
If your dog is marking in response to seeing other dogs through doors or windows, restrict his
access to these areas and do not allow him to watch what’s going on outside. If he has a conflict
with the dog next door, think about putting up a privacy fence or using a small chain link kennel so
that his outside “territory” is not close to another dog.
If you have other dogs and conflicts arise within the pack, this can lead to urine marking. Help to resolve conflicts quickly. Your dogs will establish a dominance hierarchy and you must support the "pecking order" to help maintain stability in the pack. Always support the dominant dog's right to assert his position.
The dominant dog must be allowed to control the favorite spot in the chair next to you and you should allow him to push dogs that are lower in the pecking order out of the way when you are petting or playing. The dominant dog should be allowed to take toys and chewies away from dogs that are lower in the hierarchy and he should always be feed first. Don't undermine the pecking order by trying to treat all of the dogs equally or by stopping the “alpha” dog from asserting his
position. And don’t be surprised if the “alpha” dog is your “sweet little baby girl!” I have found
that females are much more likely to dominate multi-dog households and they can be more stubborn about training issues. Kinda like humans, huh?
The biggest key to maintaining pack stability is being sure that every human is at the top of the dominance hierarchy. Have every family member practice basic commands and rewards with all of the dogs, especially making the dog sit quietly for attention. Make your puppy “sit” before you
feed him, pet him, attach his leash or throw a ball for him. This non-confrontational training will establish your dominance and requires your puppy or dog to work for the rewards he wants from you. With strong human leadership at the top of the dominance ladder, the dogs will sort out the lower placements more peacefully.
When you find a soiled area, be sure to clean it thoroughly. If the dog uses certain spots repeatedly, try to make these areas unattractive or inaccessible. If you cannot limit the dog’s access to these
areas try feeding or playing with him in these locations. Associating the area with other activities may help change his perception of the location. If your dog is attracted to new items in his environment, be sure and put shopping bags, purses or your mother-in-law’s luggage in a closet,
on a table or somewhere else out of reach.
A new spouse or roommate moving into the home can make a dog feel as though his placement in the pack is threatened and he may begin urine marking. A new baby with the accompanying changes in routine and loss of attention to the pet can also set off incidences of urine marking. Help your pet make friends with the new family member to reduce the stress of the situation. Let your spouse walk the dog, feed him and practice commands and rewarding him with treats. Introduce your dog to the baby and understand his curiosity over this bundle of blankets that screams and smells funny (babies are a smorgasbord of new smells to a dog!) Don’t yell at the
dog every time he goes near the infant and make sure good things, like petting and treats, happen when the baby is around.
If you have been letting your dog run loose in the house, start using your crate to confine him when you have to leave or cannot supervise him. If you didn’t use a crate when the dog was
younger, get one now and begin to crate-train the dog. Watch your dog constantly when he is inside and/or tether him to you with a leash so he can’t sneak off and urine mark in the house.
When out walking, use leash corrections to prevent your dog from urine marking around the neighborhood or through the park. Correcting the dog for this type of behavior when ever and where ever it occurs can help reduce the problem inside the home.
Take your dog to an obedience training class. Training your dog can help boost his confidence and security, which can lessen his need to mark and claim territory. The classes will also help socialize him with other dogs and can help him learn to accept the presence of other animals in "his" space.
Please remember, don’t punish your dog for marking the furniture or other surfaces if you did not catch
him in the act. Punishment after the fact is useless. Copyright
? Sandcastle Kennels 2002-2005