Territorial marking behaviors in dogs aren't at all exclusive to hormonally driven behaviors. In fact, both neutered and unneutered pooches may claim turf for a variety of reasons unrelated to breeding, such as anxiety and fear. However, dogs that are neutered typically mark less than their fixed counterparts.
In the canine species, territory marking is 100 percent healthy, regardless of how human beings feel about it. When a dog sprays urine, he is doing so to label whatever he sprays as his own, whether that's certain area of your living room, the perimeter of your yard or every hydrant on his rounds. Dogs often urine-mark when they're feeling confused, uncertain or stressed out about something, such as a move to a new and bigger apartment or the introduction of another pet. If a dog feels threatened about something, urine-spraying may be his way of trying to maintain control, expressing to the world, "This is mine." Although marking is especially common in male dogs, female dogs also often do it.
Dogs who have been neutered may still mark territory, although the behavior is significantly less prevalent in them, according to the ASPCA. Don't make the assumption that a fixed dog won't mark his territory when the urge strikes. If a dog wants to claim something as being his, he may mark it whether he's neutered or not.
The Humane Society of the United States advocates neutering male dogs as puppies if you want to minimize or prevent urine-marking, as it's usually lot tougher to curb urine-marking habits in canines who have fully developed and adapted the habit. The ASPCA advises owners to neuter their pets before reproductive maturity, which is generally around 6 months of age in dogs. At this very young age, a male dog may not have started partaking in behaviors such as territory marking, and he may never start.
If your dog is urinating indoors out of nowhere, territorial urine-marking may not necessarily be at fault. You may be able to discern the difference just by looking. According to the Michigan Humane Society, territorial-marking urine typically appears on vertical spaces such as doorways and walls. The amount is usually a spritz rather than a full bladder movement. If you're worried that perhaps your house-trained dog may be house-soiling rather than marking, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian. House-soiling in dogs may be associated with medical conditions such as liver disease, chronic kidney failure and bladder infection.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Urine Marking - Why Dogs Mark Their Territory
- ASPCA: Urine Marking in Dogs
- ASPCA: House Training Your Adult Dog
- ASPCA: Medical Causes of House Soiling in Dogs
- The Humane Society of the United States: Urine Marking Behavior - How to Prevent It
- Michigan Humane Society: Territorial Marking Behavior in Dogs and Cats
- ASPCA: Spay-Neuter
- SPCA of Texas: Urine Marking by Dogs