When a dog is marking in the house, more often than not, you can identify the reason why. Next, you want to end your dog’s urine marking for good! There are 7 steps to help you put a stop to your dog marking in the house.
- Spay or neuter your dog
- Exercise your dog
- Thoroughly clean previous marking spots
- Address any anxiety causing your dog to mark
- Establish yourself as the pack leader, eliminating the need to compete
- Use treats to establish the purpose of a spot where your dog has marked
- Introduce new people, objects, and pets slowly
Urine marking may be one of the most frustrating problems for pet parents. Unlike simple accidents, which may indicate a need for some further training or more frequent potty breaks, urine marking is a territorial behavior. It can be more than a little baffling when a completely potty trained pooch is still peeing on things in the house.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to change your dog’s habits. But before you take steps to deal with your dog’s urine marking, you should check with your vet to rule out any possible medical causes for the behavior. Conditions like bladder or urinary tract infections can cause a dog to urinate frequently and need to be treated promptly.
And also be sure that your dog is actually marking and not peeing in the house. If your dog is habitually peeing in the house, please read this post about how to end your dog’s indoor peeing.
Once you’ve ruled out medical causes, you can take at-home measures to finally curb your dog’s urine marking.
7 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Marking in the House
Dogs are not spiteful or vindictive, so urine marking is never a sign that they are trying to “get back at you” for something. Instead, it’s usually brought on by something that they perceive to be a threat to their territory. Here are some of the most common reasons for urine marking.
Reason #1: Not Being Spayed or Neutered
This is possibly the most common reason that dogs mark. Dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered have a higher likelihood of marking their territory. Although it occurs much more frequently in males, some females will also mark their territory, especially if they are “unaltered.”
Even if your dog is spayed or neutered, he may still urine mark if it became a habit well before surgery.
Reason #2: Unfamiliar Objects in the Home
New (or new to him) furniture, carpeting, or even a guest’s jacket or purse may trigger the need to mark — especially if the object carries the scent of another animal.
Reason #3: New People
A new roommate, significant other, or baby may trigger urine marking. Putting his scent on things that belong to them is a dog’s way of reminding them that the house is his.
Reason #4: Establishing Dominance
If he’s in conflict with another dog, or even a cat, your dog may be having trouble establishing his place in the pack. He might begin marking his territory as a way to gain the upper paw.
Reason #5: Contact with Unfamiliar Animals
Hanging out at the dog park, encountering other dogs on walks, or even seeing other animals through the window can cause some dogs to mark their own territory.
Reason #6: Anxiety
In some cases, new objects or people in the home, furniture, luggage, or conflict with other animals or people could cause anxiety that leads to urine marking.
Reason #7: He Hasn’t Exercised Enough
Just like little humans, when dogs are bored, they tend to act out. A dog that’s not been given enough exercise is more likely to find ways to spend that pent up energy which can result in behavioral problems, like urine marking.
Now that we know why dogs often urine mark in the house, we’ll get into the good stuff — how to make it stop!
7 Effective Ways to Stop Your Dog from Marking in the House
Depending on the reason for your dog peeing in the house, one or more of these approaches may be the right one for you. With patience and persistence, you can stop your dog from marking inside.
#1: Spay or Neuter Your Dog
This will reduce or eliminate urine marking in many dogs. As many as 50-60% of male dogs stop urine marking, or at least do it significantly less often, after being neutered. If your male dog is peeing in the house even after he’s altered, there could be other behavioral or physical issues that need to be addressed.
#2: Go for a Walk or Run with Your Dog
Breeds that are known for their high energy or above normal intelligence are in special need of exercise. Getting out that pent up energy can help calm your dog and avoid behavioral issues, such as urine marking. If you’re already walking your dog and he’s still peeing indoors, you may need to step up your game and either walk him longer or take him for a run.
If running doesn’t get you paws-itively excited, try taking your dog to the park for a game of high-intensity fetch. One of my favorite fetch toys is the ChuckIt! Ball Launcher. It allows you to throw the ball long distances without tiring out your arm.
Exercise may seem like a very simple step, but it’s probably one of the most important!
#3: Clean Up Messes Properly
This has been a hot topic for me and my readers for years! I have recommended various products and so many of them had good points, but based on my readers’ feedback and my own experience, I just couldn’t find anything to totally fit the bill. Some were too strong, not strong enough, and others had poor packaging that would break quickly.
So I did what any pet-loving entrepreneur would do… I created my own! Kinderbean No Mess Stress Eraser was born out of the desperation I and so many other pet parents have had. Yes, it’s another enzymatic cleaner on the market. But here’s why I love this one in particular:
- It only has 5 natural and non-toxic ingredients, so it’s safe to use around kids and pets
- The no-stress squirt top enables you to properly saturate the mess so the enzyme cleaner activates
- The scent is pleasant, light and airy, not too strong
- It includes detailed instructions on how to clean up messes
- The liquid is clear, with no dyes to stain your surface
- It easily cleans hard and soft surfaces and can be used in the laundry
- On a personal note, the brand is named after my late dog, Chilly the “Bean,” who crossed the rainbow bridge in 2021🌈
Whichever cleaner you end up choosing, make sure it’s enzymatic and not a regular household cleaner. Enzymatic cleaners don’t mask odors – they actually break down the waste completely, so there’s nothing left for you or your dog to smell. This is especially important to prevent your dog from remarking.
#4: Address Your Dog’s Anxiety
If your dog’s urine marking is caused by anxiety, you’ll want to address it sooner than later, especially since anxiety can escalate as your dog ages.
There are several OTC anxiety tools that can help alleviate your dog’s anxiety. I love this pheromone collar from Adaptil. When my dog Chilly was alive, he had all sorts of anxiety conditions and this collar was one of my effective tools we used to manage it. The pheromones have a calming effect on some dogs and can reduce the urge to mark. There is also a room diffuser if you prefer that.
Ultimately, if your dog has anxiety, you may need to enlist the help of a veterinary behaviorist to work through it. You can find a behaviorist in your area using this page on the dacvb.org site.
You can also check out my pet anxiety resource page for more information about anxiety signs and solutions.
#5: Establish Yourself as the Pack Leader
One way to do this is to teach your dog basic commands such as “sit” or “lie down” and then have him obey one of these commands before he’s fed or taken for a walk. If necessary, enlist the help of a trainer who will help you understand how to become your dog’s pack leader.
#6: Fight Urine Marking with Treats
You can change the meaning of the place where he has marked by leaving treats directly on the spot. Most dogs won’t pee where they eat. So you may even need to put his food dish directly on the spot where he’s peed. Consistency is key here because as soon as you’ve banished one area as a pee spot, your dog will choose a new area. It may take weeks before your dog realizes that the entire house is off limits to peeing.
I like these treats because they’re low in calories, all natural, and when you’re training you’ll go through a lot of treats so you don’t want to give your dog full size bones or cookies that will pack on unhealthy pounds.
#7 Introduce New Objects, People, and Pets Slowly
If his marking is in response to a new person in the house, have that person make friends by feeding and playing with your dog. If the new arrival is a baby, give your dog lots of treats, toys, and attention when the baby is around.
You’ll also need to move objects he has marked so that they are out of reach, and keep guests’ belongings and new purchases safely stashed away.
When it comes to introducing new pets, you may have to use a layered approach to curb your dog’s urine marking. Always introduce new pets slowly and on neutral ground, like a park. Even though, you’ll likely need to incorporate many of the other tips above to banish the behavior for good.
What Can I Spray to Keep My Dog from Peeing in the House?
I get this question a lot! The short answer is, there’s no real “peeing deterrent.” Products labeled as such are typically enzymatic cleaners, like the No Stress Mess Eraser. The best way to deter your pet from peeing is to properly clean any area that’s been peed on.
Enzyme cleaners eat the bacteria that causes the odor, which means your pet is less likely to revisit the same spot and repeat the offense.
What Not to Do When Your Dog Pees in the House
If your dog is peeing in the house, never punish him for it, even if you discover it after only a short time. He won’t make the connection between his actions and your disapproval, which could lead to confusion or fear. This could be especially harmful if your dog’s urine marking is rooted in anxiety.
However, if you catch him in the act, it’s okay to take actions (such as loud clapping) to discourage him from continuing. Then immediately take him outside. Shortly thereafter, after thoroughly cleaning, you can place a treat over the spot where he peed to discourage further marking.
It is possible to stop your dog from urine marking in the house! Fetch your free copy of my complete guide: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Your Dog Peeing in the House today.