Prevent Dogs Marking Territory

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From the Desk of Sharda Baker

Good day and welcome everyone!

This is Sharda with another potty train newsletter.

Here’s how to prevent dogs marking territory!


Especially for young male dogs, marking territory starts to occur at between four and nine months of age for most breeds.

Some female dogs will also engage in marking behaviour as well, especially if there is more than one dog in the house.

Generally, marking territory is a hormonally driven behaviour that male dogs engage in to establish their dominance.

If a new dog, baby, pet or other change occurs in the house you may find that a previously house trained dog will begin marking territory.

Marking territory is dog’s way to indicate that the house is his or her territory. Outside dogs will mark the areas of their domain such as fence posts, lamps, or even bushes, shrubs and trees in the yard or neighbourhood.

Unfortunately some dogs also want to mark their territory on the inside of your house and this is certainly not a desirable behaviour. Thus potty training problems such as this occur and must be dealt immediately.

Marking territory as a hormonally driven behaviour will indicate that the dog is ready for neutering. In about 50-70% of male dogs neutering will prevent the likelihood of future marking behaviours.

Cleaning and using an enzyme based product that will completely eliminate the odour of the urine will assist in preventing future issues.

If the dog has been neutered but still continues to mark territory there are a few simple techniques that you can use to deter the behaviour. While some are directly related to the marking others are more specific to establishing that you are the dominant member of the family, not the dog.

Try the following to help with preventing further marking behaviours:

  • Ensure that the dog has lots of exercise prior to being left alone.
  • Encourage him to mark outside by providing interesting places to sniff and mark.
  • Remove or completely clean any furniture or items that the dog previously marked.
  • If you cannot remove the furniture place a piece of aluminum foil over the area in a flat sheet. Simply attach the top to the furniture with tape or small pins. When the dog attempts to urinate on the area the spray hitting the aluminum will make a noise that will startle the dog and may assist with preventing the behaviour. The resulting spray will also be unpleasant to the dog and will often stop the behaviour.
  • Take the dog to an obedience class or work with him on a constant basis to help the dog understand that he is not the top dog on the pecking order in the family. Once the dog understands that he is not dominant the behaviour will often stop.
  • If there is a female dog in heat in the house or area the intact male dog will mark to establish a territory. Remove any female dogs in heat from the area to prevent this hormonally driven marking. Neutering will help with this behaviour as well.

If there appears to be no change in the male dog’s marking behaviour after using these techniques try working with a professional trainer or consulting with your veterinarian. Occasionally some hormonal imbalances may cause the behaviour and can be controlled by drug therapies.

I hope that you learned a lot from today’s potty train newsletter

All the best and take care

Sharda Baker