Help for Dog Markings in the House

by Lisa McQuerrey
    Marking is a dog's way of saying, "This is my space."

    Marking is a dog's way of saying, "This is my space."

    Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    Your dog may mark his territory in your house for a variety of reasons. Puppies and elderly dogs with poor bladder control are prone to accidents, while young healthy dogs are likely urine marking the house to make it smell like them and establish their presence. Regardless of the reason, marking can become habitual if you don't deal with it as soon as it comes to your attention.

    Start housebreaking your dog as soon as he becomes a member of your household. Developing a regular feeding schedule will help you time outdoor breaks in the most appropriate way. If you eventually want your dog to alert you when he has to go outside, show him how to scratch at the door each time you take him out, which will start to ingrain the behavior. Designate an area of your yard for your dog to use as his bathroom area, and reward positive behavior.

    Try not to become visible angry with your dog if he marks his territory. Yelling at or punishing him, especially after the fact, will scare and confuse him, and do nothing to help the problem. If you catch your dog in the marking act, take him outside to his designated area right away and reward him for using the appropriate spot. Never rub your dog’s nose in his urine or physically hurt him in retaliation, as this can damage the bond between you.

    Attend to marked territory as soon as you find it. Blot the wet area with paper towels and treat the area with an enzymatic cleaner designed to break down the dog’s urine and remove the smell completely. If a marked spot continues to smell like your dog, he will continue to mark the area. If the problem persists, you may have to physically block him from the marked area while you thoroughly treat and dry the area, or even replace the flooring, if necessary.

    In addition to appropriately cleaning marked territory, pay attention to what prompts your dog to mark in the first place. Some dogs urinate indoors when they feel nervous or threatened, or if you are gone for long stretches of time and they experience separation anxiety. Address these kinds of triggers by socializing your pup, crating him or containing him to a single area when you are away. This should help reduce the incidence of marking in the house. Habitual indoor urination that doesn’t stop may be a sign of a health issue, so check with your vet for a professional analysis.

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    About the Author

    Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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