Urine marking is a relatively common issue with dog parents and the key to reducing the problem is treating the behavior at its source.
Where Urine Marking Behavior Comes From
In the wild, dogs urine mark to communicate the bounds of their territory to other dogs. In this sense, urine marking is a common behavior; many pet parents are familiar with the ways that dogs urine mark trees, fire hydrants and benches when outside. When urine marking continues inside, however, it quickly becomes a big problem.
Inappropriate urine marking is often the result of stress or anxiety. A dog may urine mark in the house due to strained social circumstances, such as the introduction of a new dog, or as a result of stress, separation anxiety, conflict with household dogs or overcrowding. Some dogs may also urine mark due to poor or no house training.
If your dog urine marks, it is important to rule out medical causes such as incontinence and various urinary problems, such as infections and irritations. These conditions are common and will often lead to urine marking. If your dog has a clean health check, however, it is time to consider how to treat the urine marking behavior.
How to Stop Urine Marking
Because sexually intact dogs are more likely to urine mark, the first consideration would be spaying or neutering your dog. This can be discussed with your veterinarian.
The next consideration is environmental triggers.
To treat urine marking, keep unfamiliar dogs out of your home. This decreases your dog’s sense of competition and makes urine marking less likely. If your dog has begun urine marking on specific objects, keep these objects out of reach and be sure to clean all previously marked areas (such as carpets or sofas) with a scent-blocking cleanser. If the dog continues to mark, make the frequently marked area unpleasant by laying down double-sided tape or, if possible, installing a motion-activated water sensor that squirts the dog when he enters the area. Alternately, many pet parents choose to use synthetic hormones to calm dogs that urine mark when aroused or excited.
If your dog urine marks due to anxiety, seek to resolve household pet conflicts, restrict frequently marked objects and clean any previously marked spots with a cleanser that blocks all urine scent, as this will likely prevent the dog from marking in that spot again.
Regardless of why your dog marks, be sure not to punish them. These behaviors only inspire fear and resentment in dogs and may actually make the urine marking behavior worse. If the behavior persists after you have attempted all of the above treatments, consider speaking to a pet behaviorist and certainly have a second check up with your veterinarian.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.