Dog Marking - Help!

Dog marking in the house can be a very annoying and disgusting habit of your furry friend. But first - is he marking, or peeing? As similar as these might sound, before you can find a solution you need to know which one to pin on your dog.


Peeing in the house happens when your dog cannot hold his bladder any longer.  He might be completely house-trained, but if not enough opportunities are given to relieve himself, he will do what he must!

If a puppy is not yet completely house-trained, there will be the occasional accident.  Either he doesn't quite understand where he's supposed to go, or his little bladder is full.

So, peeing is if your dog or puppy squats, or what he normally does outside, leaving a large puddle behind. If this is the case, you need to keep working on house-training him.


On the other hand, if your dog (usually a male) lifts his leg and urinates on an object, he is marking.  This is done to an upright object most often, such as a chair leg, furniture, or doorway.

To a dog, peeing in the house and marking are two different things. Just because he is house-trained doesn't mean that he understands that marking in the house is unacceptable as well.

Many people incorrectly think that their dog is angry or getting back at them for something.  Guess what?  Dogs are not vindictive - they don't do things for revenge or hold grudges!  This sort of complicated thinking is reserved for humans and monkeys.

Reasons Behind Dog Marking

Since it's not out of anger or revenge, why do dogs mark?

  • seeking attention (bad attention is better than no attention)

  • it's a territorial, social and sexual behavior (sometimes called territorial marking)

  • anxiety or stress

  • fear

  • excitement

  • show dominance

  • claim territory

  • builds dog's confidence

Probably one of the top reasons for marking is feelings of insecurity or a perceived threat.  A "perceived threat" can include big changes, or seemingly unimportant things (to you anyway), such as a new baby, a new pet, visitors, new furniture, or even the smell of other animals on your shoes or clothing.  Even a change in routine can bring anxiety (demonstrated by... you guessed it).

Solutions to Dog Marking

Before you try any of these methods, take your dog to the vet for a check-up to rule out infection (i.e. bladder) or of him being senile (in an older dog).

  • Neutering - This can help, but is not a magic "fix" for the problem. If your dog is older, chances are that this habit will still be there if you neuter him.

    Unaltered males have a tendency to this behavior more so than neutered males, and the longer it's been going on, the harder it is to break him of the habit.
Dog markingIf a male dog pees on upright objects, it's most likely marking.
  • Break the Habit - supervise your dog closely and constantly, even if it means tethering him to you or setting up some baby gates.

    You want to catch him in the act! It might take a couple weeks, or it might only take a few days.
  • Training Shaker or Air horn - pop can with a few pennies in it, with the hole taped over. Watch dog for any signs of him getting ready (sniffing, circling) and as soon as he lifts his leg, shake the can behind your back (or press the air horn button for 3 seconds).

    DON'T SAY ANYTHING! You want him to associate the startling sound with the behavior, not with you. If he starts to lift his leg again, repeat. Redirect him to something positive - a game, going outside.
  • If you don't have a shaker handy, interrupt with a loud hand clap or verbal "EH!"
  • Praise for marking in an appropriate place (outside).
  • If he has a "favorite" spot to lift his leg, try putting his food/water bowl there.
  • Clean up - if he can smell the urine still, he will attempt to mark there again. Clean the area really good with an enzyme cleaner (no ammonia - it will trigger him to go again). Odor-Out works great (Walmart).

As far as dominance control goes, obedience training is one way to show your dog that you are the one in control.  Learn about the different dog training methods for you and your dog, and then get started on teaching your pooch how to be better behaved!

Remember, the best way to avoid any bad behavior is prevention.  While dog marking is a nuisance, it can be controlled and the habit of doing so in the house can be broken.

Be patient and stick with the training!