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If your dog is peeing on anything and everything in sight, it's not a housetraining issue. It's a marking issue. While this is most commonly seen in males, some females will urnine mark, too. Some females will even lift their leg, just like the males. Urine marking is often about claiming territory ("this is mine"), but not always. Sometimes, it's a just a message left for others who happen by ("I was here"). Call it the canine version of e-mail, or "pee-mail". When it happens outside, it's usually not a problem, unless you can't walk more than 5 feet without your dog stopping to mark something. The biggest problem for dog owners is when their dog marks inside the house.

Reclaim YOUR Territory

If your dog is marking inside the house, it's time to reclaim what is yours. The couch is not his territory to mark. It is yours. Luckily, you don't have to pee on the furniture yourself to get the point across.

Spay/Neuter your dog. This will solve the problem most of the time by eliminating production of the hormone which leads to urine marking. However, some dogs will continue to mark out of force of habit, so this is only the first step in stopping marking.

Supervise. Just like with regular housetraining, the best way to stop the urine marking habit from forming in the house is to prevent the dog from being able to do it in the first place. That means that until your dog is reliable, he is not loose in the house unless you can fully supervise him. When you can't fully supervise him, he is crated or outside in a secure fenced yard. Since marking is typically just a squirt, you will have to be fast to catch any attempts to mark and interrupt. If you know he doesn't need to pee but is just marking, there is no need to go outside. Simply interrupt and redirect his attention to something else, such as a toy. Dogs will hold a reserve of urine just for the purpose of marking, so he may mark right after coming in from a bathroom break!

Belly Bands. If your dog is obsessively marking, and you just can't keep up with his frequent attempts or interrupt him fast enough, belly bands are a great management tool. This is a strip of absorbent cloth that wraps around the dog's waist. Belly bands serve 2 purposes. One is to make clean-up easier for you. Rather than trying to get urine out of your carpet, you only have to toss the belly band into the washing machine to clean. Second is to help with discouraging your dog's marking habit. When he wets himself in the belly band, it's uncomfortable for him, so he may give up the habit. CARE sells hand made belly bands to benefit our rescue animals. Please contact us to order.

Leadership Exercises. Your dog needs to understand that it's not his territory to mark in the first place. You are the leader in this relationship. Marking territory is not always a sign of a confident dog. Some dogs mark because they are insecure. If your dog marks obsessively and scratches the area to spread the odor, this could be a sign of insecurity. He's trying TOO hard. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell if your dog is marking due to OVER confidence or UNDER confidence. Fortunately, the protocol for fixing the problem is the same in either case. Show your dog that you are the leader. The over confident dog will get the message, and the under confident dog will be relieved!

Marking on Walks

When your dog marks outside, it's generally not a problem. However, it can be quite annoying when you're trying to take a walk and he stops every few steps to mark something.

Spay/Neuter your dog. Some altered dogs will still mark, but the frequency will be reduced considerably, if not altogether eliminated, just by spaying or neutering your dog.

Loose Leash Walking. Teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash. Then, you control the walk. If he tries to stop and mark, just keep on walking. If he's learned to walk on a loose leash properly, he will follow.

Compromise. The walk is for both of you, right? Then, give him the chance to sniff and mark on ocassion.

Additional Resources

Urine Marking

When Urine Marking is a Problem
P. O. Box 715 •  Lexington, SC 29071  •  (803) 622-9813 •  caretoadopt [ at ]