A lot of our customers have questions about potty training their dogs. One of the questions we frequently get is about intact, older male dogs who are turning up on furniture.
As you know, there is a very big difference between a puppy squatting and peeing in a puddle on the floor, and an older male dog peeing on things like furniture, doorways and clothing! One is a potty training issue, the other is a marking issue, which can be much more stressful on you than simply having to train your new pup.
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 he must really need to go, but instead of peeing all at once and relieving his bladder like we do, he pees a little bit on this tree, then pees a little on that fire hydrant, then a little on that mailbox. Twenty minutes later he’s still peeing on stuff!
The first thing you need to understand about your dog is he doesn’t think urine is gross like you do. To him, urine is much like ink. Imagine your dog as a gang member (dogs and wolf packs being like gangs), and he goes around the neighborhood reading other dogs’ graffiti, then shakes his own can of spray paint and tags everything he can, claiming it as his own. (It should be mentioned that female dogs can also mark, though males tend to do it more).
Dogs use their urine 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).
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 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!"
Though you obviously don’t like the fact your dog is peeing on stuff, try and stay calm and think of the situation from your dog’s point of view. They aren't like humans and can express their feelings in words, they have to communicate issues in different ways. Becoming angry and yelling at your dog, or worse, is NOT going to help the situation. Honestly, it will probably only make it worse.
Marking is a strong instinct. Your dog is not doing it to upset you, he’s doing it because he instinctively feels the need to.
With that said, here are 5 things you can do to stop your dog from marking.
1. Spay and Neuter
Dogs that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to mark. Even if your dog is older but still intact, consider getting him neutered. Testosterone plays a big role in dominance and marking. Ideally spaying and neutering should happen at about 16 weeks old.
2. Adjust Behavior in the Moment
Your dog is a Zen master, and by that I mean he lives in the moment. You can’t reprimand your dog for something he did a half hour ago; he simply won’t know what you’re talking about. This only causes confusion for him, and it won't solve anything other than making matters worse.
You’ve got to keep a close eye on your dog, follow him 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 him in the act and show him in that moment that No! peeing in the house is not acceptable.
3. Use an Enzyme Cleaner
Your dog will be much more likely to mark an area again and again if he can still smell the urine. Use an enzyme cleaner to do get rid of all odor and prevent him from using that spot as his 'go-to' marking area.
4. Use Dog Belly Bands
When all else fails, have your dog wear a dog belly band. Like most people, dogs do not enjoy peeing on themselves so this can often do the trick when nothing else will.
5. Be Patient
Again, your dog isn’t peeing to make your life a nightmare, he or she is doing it because there is something in the environment that is causing their instincts to kick in. Be patient with your dog and love him, and eventually, his behavior will change.
Marking is instinctual and can be difficult to curb, but if you put in the effort you will be able to stop your dog from marking.