5 Things to Do for Male Dogs That Are Marking

Updated: July 29, 2022

A lot of pet parents have questions about how to potty train their dogs and avoid messy cleanups. One of the questions we frequently get is about intact, older male dogs who are urinating on furniture.

Pet parents often mistake pee accidents for dog marking. As you know, there is a very big difference between a puppy squatting and peeing a puddle on the floor, and an older male dog peeing on things like furniture, doorways, and clothing! The first one is a potty-training issue, the other is a dog marking issue, which can be much more stressful on you because it requires more than simply having to train your pup to potty outside.

In this article, we will look at the causes of dog marking, how to stop a male dog from marking, especially in the house, and useful tips to prevent marking in the future. We’ll also address common questions like will neutering stop dog marking and do belly bands stop dogs from marking.

"Do belly bands stop dogs from marking? Yes! If cleanups are too much for you, have your dog wear a belly band"

How to stop a dog from marking in the house

Why Do Dogs Mark?

Have you ever walked your male dog around the neighborhood first thing in the morning? Now you KNOW your dog hasn’t peed in eight or more hours, and they must really need to go, but instead of peeing all at once and relieving their bladder like we do, they pee a little bit on this tree, then pee a little on that fire hydrant, then a little on that mailbox. Twenty minutes later they are still peeing on stuff they pass by!

The first thing you need to understand about your dog marking is they don’t think pee is gross like you do. To them, pee is much like ink. Imagine your dog as a gang member (dogs and wolf packs being like gangs), and they go around the neighborhood reading other dogs’ graffiti, then shakes their own can of spray paint and tags everything they can, claiming it as their own. It is best to understand that female dogs also mark, though males tend to do it more.

Dogs use their pee to show dominance (my gang is tougher than yours) and to mark whatever they think belongs to them (This is MY stop sign, get your own). They mark using their pee to claim their territories and communicate with other animals in the area.

So now you may be asking, “Okay, but why mark stuff in the house? It’s not like neighborhood dogs walk through our house and pee on our sofa.”

Dogs also sometimes mark when they’re feeling anxious, stressed, and insecure. If you’ve just moved into a new house, or you’ve brought a new baby or a new pet into your home, this can be a catalyst for marking. Kind of like their way of saying, "Hey, just because this new baby is here, doesn't mean you can forget about me!" According to Pets WebMD, when your dog’s environment changes, they might feel the need to mark their territory.

Though you obviously don’t like the fact your dog is marking on stuff, try and stay calm and think of the situation from your dog’s point of view. They aren't like humans and they can’t express their feelings in words. They have to communicate issues in different ways. Becoming angry and yelling at your dog, or worse, punishing them is not going to help the situation. Honestly, it will probably only make things worse.

Additionally, male dogs mark when they encounter females, particularly those that are in heat. According to VCA Animal Hospital, a male dog is overwhelmed when there are female dogs in heat and they show their excitement by marking. Dog marking is a sign that your male dog can’t fully grasp the thrill of the situation they are in. Marking is also their way of gaining notice from the female dog in heat.

Marking is a strong instinct. Your dog is not intentionally doing it to upset you. They are doing it because they instinctively feel the need to. Remember that marking is a natural instinctive behavior in dogs, and you cannot just put a stop to it, but there are ways to minimize and manage it.

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With that being said, dog marking is still an activity that you would like to put a stop to, especially for a male dog marking in the house. So, let’s look at how to stop a male dog from marking. Here are the top 5 things you can do to help manage your furbaby's marking behavior.

1. Neuter Your Dog

Will neutering a dog stop marking? Male dogs that have been neutered are less likely to mark compared to intact male dogs. If your dog is older but still intact, consider getting them neutered. Testosterone plays a big role in dominance and marking. After neutering, it has been reported that as many as 50-60% of male dogs marked significantly less often. As suggested by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®), while the usual age for neutering your dog is six to nine months, puppies or adult dogs can undergo neutering with your vet’s approval as long as they're healthy and are of the right weight. If you are unsure if it is too soon to neuter your dog, or too late, consult your veterinarian to get an expert opinion for your specific dog. 

2. Adjust Behavior at the Moment

Your dog is a Zen master, and by that, I mean they live in the moment. You can’t reprimand your dog for something they did half an hour ago; they simply won’t understand what you’re scolding them for. This only causes them confusion, and it won't solve anything.

You’ve got to keep a close eye on your dog, follow them around if you have to (as pet parents, sometimes we have to do silly things to get to the root of an issue) so that you can catch them in the act and show them at that moment that No! marking inside the house is not acceptable. If your dog is a quick learner, this may be one of the easiest ways how to stop a dog from marking in the house.

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3. Use an Enzymatic Cleaner to Stop Marking Inside

Your dog will be much more likely to mark an area again and again if they can still smell pee. Use an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of all stains and odor, and prevent them from using a certain spot as their ‘go-to' marking area. 

Preventing them from smelling their own urine is a simple way how to stop a dog from marking in the house. Go over any spots that your dog frequently marks even if they have been previously cleaned with a different cleaning solution. 

4. Use Dog Belly Bands

Do belly bands stop dogs from marking? Yes! If cleanups are too much for you, have your dog wear a dog belly band. These are made with absorbent, comfortable fabric meant to hold urine, and will stop dogs from marking your furniture and getting urine around your house. Sometimes, wearing a belly band can even prevent dogs from wanting to mark.

Dog belly bands, like Pet Parents® Washable Dog Belly Bands, are a must-have for dogs that are marking. These belly bands are made with soft non-abrasive WickQuick® proprietary fabric that absorbs any wetness or moisture fast. These are also made with a hook & loop system that help support many dog body types while providing a leak-proof, comfortable fit for your furbaby.

If you prefer, you can also use Pet Parents® Washable Diapers which function the same as belly bands more physical coverage on your dog. These diapers have an elastic tail-hole that prevents leaks and keeps the diaper on your dog. 

5. Be Patient

Again, your dog isn’t marking to make your life a nightmare. They are doing it because there is something in the environment that is causing their instincts to kick in. Be patient with your dog and love them unconditionally, and do your best to manage and help curb their behavior.

Marking is instinctual for dogs but there are ways you can manage it and help your furbaby live a happier, healthier life.

Dog marking is a very common behavior for pet parents to encounter. However, it can be frustrating if you are trying to learn how to stop a dog from marking in the house and nothing seems to work. Remember that it is a dog’s natural instinct to mark, and they are not doing it to get on your nerves. But, if you’re wondering how to stop a male dog from marking, follow these five tips that will help prevent future messes.

do belly bands stop dogs from marking? how to stop a male dog from marking

"These belly bands are made with soft non-abrasive WickQuick® proprietary fabric that absorbs any wetness or moisture fast."