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Canine Scent Marking: What’s An Owner To Do About Urine Marking?

While there is much experts do not yet know about the intricacies of canine urine marking, they do have a pretty good idea of why it happens—and how to manage it. Primarily, dogs who mark are “branding” or “staking their claim” to what they believe is their territory. When dogs hikes up their leg on a tree or fence… or even your shoes or purse, the dog is saying, “This is mine.” It’s the same behavior that compels many dogs to sprinkle their urine all around their yard or up and down the neighborhood.

Dogs don’t “mark” out of spite. They don’t think, “My mom left me home today, so I think I’ll pee on the furniture AND her new purse!” Dogs urine mark both indoors and outdoors for two primary reasons: to define and redefine territory or secondary to anxiety issues, according to Alice Moon-Fanelli, Ph.D., certified applied animal behaviorist at Animal Behavior Consultations. Territorial marking and anxiety, however, are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Anxiety related issues can include:

Dogs who urine mark may do so in a variety of situations, such as while on walks in the neighborhood or at dog parks. Some dogs, although not all, mark both in their own home and outdoors. Some male dogs mark only when in the presence of female dogs—especially if they’re in heat—as a way of impressing a female. Some females mark as a form of competition. Some male dogs mark only when interacting with other male dogs—usually rival males. Many dogs never mark in their own home but will mark while at unfamiliar places, such as the veterinary clinic or while visiting a friend or family member’s home. That one’s embarrassing, I know. It happened to me. My 5-year-old intact show dog hiked up his leg on a friend’s Christmas tree.

Urine Marking is Not House-Soiling

House soiling or submissive/excitement urination and urine marking are completely different behaviors. If your dog is having potty accidents in the house, there are a few reasons why this might be happening:

If you’re not sure what’s going on, consider these pointers:

What’s An Owner To Do?

Urine marking is a normal form of communication among dogs, and they can gather a lot of information by sniffing another dog’s pee. Therefore, it’s important you not correct or scold your dog. He’s not a hooligan or first-class criminal. Besides, this rarely works—even when he’s caught in the act. Also, allow your dog some access to marking while outside in his yard or during walks. By preventing him from marking all together, you may frustrate him and actually exacerbate the situation.

While outdoor marking is usually not a problem for owners—indoor marking can be a deal breaker for the human-canine relationship. To discourage additional heinous crimes against your personal property, experts recommend a proactive approach with the following strategies:

In many cases, it may take a combination of strategies to diminish marking. Following these simple and very doable guidelines will help you keep a leash on unwanted “pee mail.” Equally important, it will assure that you and your four-legged friend have the best chance at a happy and mutually respectful human-canine relationship.