Leaving Their Calling Card – Curbing the Issue of Marking

AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer Erin Rakosky gives tips for preventing your dog from marking

Marking is not relieving oneself – it is leaving small amounts of urine on items (trees, bushes, couch) to leave their “calling card” and to say “this is mine.” It seems natural for canines, but is very annoying to humans. This often starts happening in adolescence as dogs mature. Urine marking can occur in both male and female dogs of any age, although it is seen as a problem most commonly in male dogs. Urine marking is different than having accidents in the house. Typically, when a dog is marking it is a small amount of urine in several places. These places may be random, or they could be in a favorite spot. Dogs can mark for many reasons; the two most common are to show ownership on what they consider their territory and anxiety

Below are some steps you can take to help get a handle on marking.

  • Health Check:

    First, it is recommended that you bring your dog to your veterinarian to make sure there is nothing medically wrong.  Urinary tract infections and other medical conditions can mimic urine marking.  
  • Getting Fixed:

    If your dog is not spayed or neutered yet and you are not considering breeding or showing in conformation, this is something to consider.  Altering pets that are marking helps to eliminate the issue in 50 to 60 percent of dogs.
  • New Stuff:

    Dogs like to place their territorial stamp on new items, especially if they come from a place where there might have been another dog.  Try to remember to place new items off the floor and out of reach of your dog. 
  • Outside Visitors:

    You may want to investigate the outside of your home.  Sometimes there may be other dogs in the area that come near your house and cause your dog to feel the need to mark in the home. 
  • Close Supervision:

    To prevent your dog from marking in the house make sure that they are not left unsupervised.  If you are unable to watch your dog, then they should be placed in a crate so they cannot mark.  If you do catch them in the act of marking, you should make a loud noise to startle them and then take them outside and reward the correct behavior.  If you do not catch your dog in the act and find the accident later, then it is extremely important that you do not punish your dog. Your dog can’t connect what he marked an hour ago to your punishment so it does not deter the marking and can make your dog afraid and confused.
  • Block Access:

    You can also take measures to help deter or block your dog from the area where they are drawn to marking. Try using baby gates to block certain rooms or double sided tape to keep them from certain parts of the room.
  • Clean-Up:

    If your dog does mark in the house, make sure you are using an appropriate cleaner to take the scent out.  Even though you might not be able to smell it they may be able to and this will continue to draw them to that area.  We recommend an enzymatic pet cleaner that you can find at your local pet store. 
  • Belly Bands:

    For both male and female dogs you can find either belly bands (males) or diapers (females). Remember that this is not a fix for the situation but more of a band aid.  If you choose to use one of these items to help with training, make sure you check them frequently for wetness.

 

For more tips, advice and to ask specific questions about your dog’s behavior, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, staffed seven days a week by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org