People mark their territories with furniture, books, rugs, porcelain figurines, garden gnomes and all manner of other objects, some more tasteful than others. Dogs, of course, don’t have much of a supply of knickknacks, but they do a handy and ever-refreshing supply of urine. Except in the case of a health problem, marking indoors is usually nothing more than a dog telling other dogs that this is his home. Since the chances of your appreciating this habit are minimal, it’s advisable to take action immediately.
Medical issues, including prostrate problems, mental confusion, urinary tract infections and others, can lead to a dog having to choice but to urinate inside. This is an especially likely explanation if you have an older, fixed dog who has only just started marking inside. No. 1 on the “to do” list, therefore, is to arrange a vet’s appointment so any health problems can be ruled out or treated.
Get your dog neutered or spayed as soon as he or she is old enough. The safe age to spay or neuter is normally 8 weeks, and ideally before the dog hits the 6-month mark. If you get your pet fixed before he starts showing territorial behavior, usually at the age of about 3 months, you might have stopped urine marking before it even begins. Otherwise, just get him sterilized as soon as possible. Older dogs can be fixed too, but ask your vet for advice.
As any former smoker can tell you, bad habits are hard to break. The longer your dog has been decorating your home with spots of wee, the more trouble you’ll have getting him to stop, even after neutering. Tricks to try include observing him as much as possible and pulling him outside rapidly when he makes a move to mark, as well as physically blocking favored places with furniture and keeping new items out of his way.
Clean all traces of urine with a water, a shop vac and a pet odor neutralizer cleaner -- so no smell remains -- and avoid using vinegar or ammonia. Restrict his access to rooms with difficult-to-clean flooring. If you move into a home with dog who used to mark, your first priority need to be cleaning and removing carpeting that is too far gone to avoid the establishment of bad habits.
Things to Avoid
Never punish your dog for marking, whether by hitting him, screaming or using some controversial “training aid.” He’ll be upset, certainly, but he will not fully understand. Even if he does manage to connect the punishment with the marking, his response is most likely to become more discreet, meaning you’ll just have more of a problem.
Repellents don't work for indoor marking. They might keep strangers’ dogs off your lawn, but probably aren’t going to be much use in discouraging your own dog from spotting inside. Finally, don’t even consider shifting your pet outside. Confine him to a single room if necessary but don’t force him to live in uncomfortable isolation in the yard.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.