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how to end your dog's urine marking

How to End Your Dog’s Urine Marking for Good

Urine marking is a natural behavior for dogs, especially males that are sexually intact. It’s their way of claiming territory, leaving a message for other dogs that a particular object or area is theirs. Even female dogs, especially when in heat, may urine mark.

What’s the Difference Between Peeing and Marking?

Your dog may pee inside if they haven’t been let out enough, if they have a small bladder, or for many other reasons. But the peeing will result in a full puddle of urine. 

Whereas, dogs that urine mark will only squirt out a small amount of urine and will often do it on the same spot or object. 

how to stop your dog from peeing in the house
Peeing and marking are very different. Peeing leaves a full puddle of urine, whereas marking is a quick spray.

Although it’s natural behavior, it’s certainly not acceptable in the house. Furniture, floors, walls, and other items are ruined or damaged when your dog decides to claim them as his own. 

Urine marking is not the result of faulty housebreaking. In fact, most of the time, urine marking can be curbed with behavior modification.

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How to Stop Your Dog from Marking in the House

Spay or Neuter Your Dog

Spaying or neutering your dog will reduce or eliminate urine marking in many dogs. According to the North American Veterinary Community, as many as 50% of male dogs stop urine marking, or at least do it significantly less often, after being neutered. 

Dogs usually begin urine marking when they start to reach sexual maturity. 

If you have a puppy, neutering him as soon as he’s old enough is one of the best ways to prevent urine marking from starting in the first place. 

7 Ways to End Your Dog's Urine Marking.

However, it may be days or even weeks for the urine marking to stop after your dog is altered since hormones gradually decline rather than come to a screeching halt. 

And it will likely also take some additional training on your part to change the marking behavior if it has become a deeply ingrained habit. 

If your male dog is peeing in the house weeks or months after he’s altered and after you’ve taken the steps below, there could be other behavioral or physical issues that need to be addressed.

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.

This is one reason why it’s important not to yell at your dog when he marks. If he’s doing it out of anxiety, yelling may make it much worse. 

Some dogs experience noise anxiety, social anxiety, or separation anxiety. These fears can make a dog react with unwanted behaviors, like urine marking.

Photo of ADAPTIL Dog Calming Pheromone Diffuser

There are several OTC (over-the-counter) anxiety tools that can help alleviate your dog’s anxiety. I love this pheromone collar from Adaptil.

My dog, Chilly, had severe anxieties, especially around loud noises, and this collar was a very effective tool 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.

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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.

Eliminate the Odor

As long as the odor from your dog’s urine is still there, he’ll likely continue to mark the same spot. So it’s important to clean it up the right way, with a bio-enzymatic cleaner that’s designed to eliminate biological waste, like urine. 

An enzyme cleaner works by eating the bacteria that’s causing odor and stains. Ordinary household cleaners will do little to eliminate the mess. If you’re in doubt, take a black light to any mess you’ve cleaned without using a bio-enzymatic cleaner and you’ll be convinced!

Kinderbean No-Stress Mess Eraser is paws-down, the best cleaner for pet mess, in my opinion. I’ve tested a lot of cleaners and most have come up short in one way or another. 

Dog Sniffing carpet with Kinderbean enzyme cleaner in view.

Whichever cleaner you choose, make sure it is: 

  • Bio-enzymatic
  • Safe for pets (both in chemical composition and odor)
  • Doesn’t contain harsh dyes that could discolor surfaces
  • Contains natural ingredients 
  • Has a durable dispenser (many have cheap spray tops that break in shipping)

Once you have your cleaner, you need to use it properly to make sure it eliminates the odor.

Photo of Kinderbean Dog and Cat Urine Stain and Odor Eliminator
  1. Soak up as much of the urine as you can with a paper towel.
  2. Saturate the spot with the cleaner. This is important so it can make contact with the urine and eat the bacteria. 
  3. If the spot is horizontal, lay a clean cloth over the top and allow it to set overnight. If the spot is vertical, allow the cleaner to air dry. 
  4. Retreat if necessary.

It’s a very simple process, but it’s so important not to simply “spray and wipe away.”

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Fight Urine Marking with Treats

Most dogs won’t pee where they eat. You can change the meaning of the place where he has marked by leaving treats directly on the spot after it’s been cleaned.

Consistency is key here because as soon as you’ve banished one area as a pee spot, your dog may choose a new area. It may take weeks before your dog realizes that the entire house is off-limits to peeing. But this solution is usually permanent, so it’s worth the wait.

I like to use these treats because they’re low in calories and all-natural. 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.

Get Plenty of Exercise

Breeds that are known for their high energy or above-normal intelligence are in special need of exercise. Getting out that pent-up physical or mental 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. 

Photo of a Chuckit! Fetch and Fold Launcher

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.

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Exercise may seem like a very simple step, but it’s probably one of the most important!

Limit Opportunities to Mark

If your dog is a stubborn marker, you may need to take stricter measures to curb the behavior. 

Some experts recommend the umbilical cord method. When your dog is inside, he’ll remain leashed to you so you can closely monitor him. As his behavior improves, you can gradually give him more freedom to explore the house. 

I’ve tried this method to housebreak my dog, Tulip, and it works fantastically. I’ll caution, though, that you do need a lot of patience and consistency to see results.

When to See Your Veterinarian

In most cases, behavior modification is enough to curb your dog’s urine marking. However, in some cases, urine marking can be caused by medical issues. 

Your dog may have begun marking because of a urinary tract infection and the only way to know for sure is to visit your veterinarian. 

If your dog has begun urine marking and there doesn’t seem to be any apparent trigger, it’s time to visit your veterinarian to rule out anything that needs treatment. 

Additionally, if your dog has extreme anxiety that’s causing the urine marking, you may need to seek help from a veterinary behaviorist. They can help get your dog the relief he needs.

The Tail End

If your dog is urine marking in the house, rest assured, you’ve done nothing wrong in their housetraining. Urine marking is a behavior and with behavioral modification along with neutering your dog, you can stop marking for good!

Get the free urine marking ebook today!

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert and influencer with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

Today she lives in Florida with her dog Tulip, cat Olivia, and husband Paul.

This Post Has 249 Comments

  1. I have a 7.5 year old dog that has been marking in the house for about a year now. I know this started due to a foster we took in that was not fixed who started marking. That foster however has been gone since November 2019 and he is still marking. We do have another foster but they get along. There are no dominance issues. He marks mainly on the baseboards in my kitchen and foyer and the doors to my laundry room. He also marks on their kennel in the laundry room, but has no problem sitting in the kennel during the day. This room is also where we feed them. We keep a close eye on him during the day, but as soon as he is left alone he will mark and no one sees it. He does this outside as well, but it doesn’t matter if we are watching. I can’t catch him in the act so I am having the hardest time training him to stop. Suggestions?

    1. Kisha,

      Ugh! That sure is frustrating. My guess is that he still smells the urine from before when he first began marking. Is he neutered? That could help to solve the problem. You need to really clean the areas where he marks with a cleaner that will take out all of the scent. That way, he can’t smell it anymore and will be less likely to mark there in the future. If you do catch him in the act, be sure to take him outside after to try to redirect the behavior. But, I know that is hard to catch! Try this cleaner, and be sure to follow the instructions to get the best clean: https://amzn.to/32mg0UE

      Hope this helps! Stick with it, I know it’s hard. Keep me posted!

      Kristen

  2. We have 1 girl pug mix (10 yo) and 2 pug boys (5 & 4 yo). All spayed & neutered and have had all since they were puppies. The 4 yo pug boy will not stop marking – inside or outside. We’ve started crating him again when not home to reestablish training, but even when he empties his bladder outside, he’ll come right inside and lift his leg and mark or pee all over again on something. I don’t want to crate him when I’m home too but cannot watch him every second of the day.
    Help!

    1. Hi Joanne,
      I’m sorry you’re struggling with your pug boy! Does he tend to mark the same area/s each time? If so, try moving his food dish to that area. Dogs will rarely mark where they feed.

      If he randomly marks around the house, I recommend you see your vet to rule out a medical issue. Alternatively, he could be experiencing anxiety about something — that’s another reason for neutered male marking. Has anything changed in the home?

      Another thing you can do is consult a veterinary behaviorist to help identify the cause and develop a behavior modification plan, possibly including a calming medication or supplement.

      Keep me posted on progess.
      Kristen

  3. My 8 year old dog has started marking since my daughter was born. She’s almost 3 and he’s starting to do it more and more when he never had an issue before. She’s not the nicest to him and he’s definitely scared and nervous because of her. I want to find out what I can use as a deterrent.

  4. PLEASE people get your pets spayed & neutered. This is number one & contributes to the overpopulation of dogs in the USA. Neutering your male dogs will definitely help with marking & aggression towards any other dogs. Not only that testicular cancer, female cancers & pyometra in unspayed older females is not something you want to put your pet through if you truly care about them! Pyometra is painful & can be fatal.

    Try putting Uncle Ian’s Dog/Cat Repellent into a nylon stocking & hang it from the area where they are marking. Be sure to clean the area with bleach or an enzymatic cleaner first to remove the scent of their urine.

    I run a senior dog sanctuary so have had many dogs come to us from shelters who are not potty trained. They all want to mark when they first get here. I have a ton of experience in this area. I leave wee wee pads in one area & train them to go in that spot to pee. You can also place a wooden fire log on the wee wee pad so it entices them to pee there.

    Good luck!

  5. Don’t know if you can advise me. I have a now 3 year old little Pomeranian. He wasn’t the best potty trained at our old house but since moving to our new house a year and a half ago he marks everywhere. We won’t pee normally outside but will spray up every plant pot, chair etc and he also does it in the house. I can’t work out a pattern and he will often suprise me doing it in new locations. I am at my wits end with it. We are in a 3 storey house and I have almost 2 year old twins which he has had to adapt with. I never took him to training as after I fell pregnant it took a back seat but he is relatively well behaved apart from the peeing. The only other thing is his barking and he doesn’t like to be left alone either. Someone suggested starting from scratch with puppy training but is this going to address the marking issue

    1. Hi Emma,
      That is frustrating! Is he neutered? That would be my number one recommendation as that usually corrects the issue. Every time he goes in the house, put him outside so he knows that is where he is supposed to pee. Additionally, be sure to clean the area extremely well with an enzyme cleaner to help get the scent out of the area completely. Puppy training could definitely help! If he completes training he will be more likely to listen to your commands. Good luck! I know this issue is so difficult to manage. Here is a good cleaner that I recommend you use: https://amzn.to/2EuSbRb

      Keep me posted!

      Kristen

  6. Hi. Thanks for the suggestion. He is neutered so i am guessing that i am not getting all the smells out since its always the same spots. We’ll try the solution you suggested and let you know.
    Kisha

  7. I cannot get an answer from the internet. I have a shih tzu long hair Chihuahua mix 3 years old this past June who has been neutered since April of 18. Which would make him 10 months old at the time of being neutered. Who loves to Mark the furniture in the house. And he likes to poop on the bed at certain times .he has been pee pad train since the day we brought him home and he was 7 weeks old at that time, he’s very smart he knows to use the pee pad but here lately the last 11 months has gotten worse, he’s a very smart young man he knows what he’s doing is wrong. How do I stop him.. please help

    1. Hi Steven,

      Gosh that is so frustrating. Has he had any recent changes in his routine? I ask because changes in his routine can cause stress leading to marking. Also, pee pads are great for training, but if you keep them in the house after they are potty trained, he will begin to think that is it okay to pee and poop in the house. So, he might not understand why he can pee on the pad, but not on the couch.

      My number one recommendation would be to check with your vet. There could be an underlying medical condition that is the cause, like a UTI. Also, be sure to clean the areas he marks really, really well. If he can smell the urine from the last time he went, he will be more likely to mark there again. I like this cleaner: https://amzn.to/34xYwV5

      I hope this helps! Keep me posted.

      Kristen

      1. A lot has changed here since November of last year my fiance’s daughter moved in we have another little puppy that will be a year old this month, and now a 7 mt old cat.. he does not get along with either one he tolerates them but growls at them when they get within his space he likes to poop on my fiance’s daughter’s bed. When you catch him and you call his name out he looks down or looks away.

        1. Hi Steven,

          Yes it sounds like he could be marking due to all of these changes in his routine. It could even be anxiety related since so much has changed. With new animals in the house, he could also be trying to mark his territory. I would definitely consider talking to your vet about this to see if they have any solutions for him. Additionally, he could benefit from seeing a certified animal behaviorist, as they can help determine the root cause of his marking and work with him to fix it. You can find one here: https://www.dacvb.org/search/custom.asp?id=4709

          Also, be sure to clean the areas he marks really well with an enzyme cleaner, like this one https://amzn.to/36LH8yY , each time he marks. That is to ensure that he cannot smell it after he goes. If he can still smell it, he will be more likely to mark there again.

          I hope this helps! Keep me posted!

          Kristen

  8. I’m not sure what to do with my dog. She is a 4 year old house trained dog and she has never marked in my home before but the last 6 months she has been marking a certain corner and she only does this when she is left alone. She is well aware of her punishment which is going out onto the balcony. I came home after leaving alone for 20 minutes and she marked in the same spot even thought I just had my carpets cleaned. Right when I came home she was waiting by the balcony door I take her out for a potty break before I leave but she will still mark this spot. I cannot leave her outside because she barks the entire time and I have received complaints.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      That is such a difficult issue. Do you clean the area with enzyme cleaner every time she goes? This is important to ensure you are getting the smell out of the carpet entirely: https://amzn.to/34sAxXb

      My number one recommendation is to check with your vet since they can check for an underlying medical condition like a UTI. In the last 6 months has her routine changed? If you began working from home and then left to go back to the office again, that could cause her some anxiety. Also, has she been spayed? Spayed dogs are less likely to mark.

      I know this is such a difficult issue. It may take some trial and error, but it’s not hopeless! I hope this helps.

      Kristen

  9. I have a German Shepherd mix (10yr-female) and her daughter, a black lab/German Shepherd mix (8yr). The brother often comes to visit every weekend. About 5 years ago, they all belonged to me and we never had any accidents. Since he began living away, though, he started having house accidents. This never happened in my house, but I was told it happened in his new home. Just now, it happened for the first time right in front of us in our home. We immediately corrected it and had him sit in the corner while we sprayed the area down and cleaned. He gets plenty of attention when he’s over here, so I don’t believe he’s feeling insecure, but he has not been fixed. I’ve offered the option, but my husband won’t have it. The two female dogs are fixed. Is there anything else you might suggest now that we’ve caught it early? He is a very well-behaved, obedient and calm dog. Thank you!

    1. Hi Allisa,
      That’s such a tough issue! The new marking behavior is likely due to the change in his environment. Dogs are territorial, so moving homes can cause stress. When he is in your home, he is trying to mark his territory. This is especially common in un-neutered males. If neutering is not an option, I would recommend putting Adaptil diffusers in his new home and in your home. https://amzn.to/2GSxEr9 The diffusers communicate all natural “happy messages” to the dog and can help him feel calmer in his new environment. When he marks, put him outside so he knows that is where he should be going to the bathroom. Then, clean the area completely with an enzyme cleaner, like this one https://amzn.to/37aGk6D , so that the scent is completely out of the area. If he can still smell the urine, he will be more likely to mark there again in the future.
      I hope this helps! Good luck.
      Kristen

  10. Hello!

    I hope that you can help me. I have a 6 YO male Bullmastiff (who is not neutered).

    When he was a puppy we potty trained him but as soon as my nephew was born he started peeing in the house, mostly on his toys. After getting use to my nephew (who is now 3 Y.O) he stopped peeing on his toys. Now from time to time he pees on the living room couch and a curtain next to the couch. It’s impossible to catch him doing it as well. He does it quickly then runs upstairs or avoids that area all together because he knows that he has done something wrong.

    In terms of his personality. He’s a very gentle dog who was very fearful when we first got him as a puppy. He was the last puppy in his litter and was born smaller than the other pups so he didn’t get a lot of his mother’s milk according to his mother’s owner. When he was younger he use to hide when someone rang the doorbell but he has come a long way now and is one of the first to run downstairs when someone comes. However, he still has a bit of timidity and is afraid of vehicles so he doesn’t like going for walks near main roads. I don’t know whether his personality has something to do with it.

    1. Aw, I am so sorry to hear this!

      This could be anxiety related. Since your nephew was born, he has had a change in his routine which can cause stress. And, it sounds like he has a timid nature in general. Putting Adaptil diffusers in the rooms he marks in could be a good way to help calm him down. These release natural, calming messages for canines into the air which can make him feel more comfortable in his environment. https://amzn.to/2TfwXuo

      Is neutering him an option? That is always my number one recommendation with un-neutered marking males. They are less likely to mark their territory once they have been neutered.

      Keep me posted! I hope this helps!

      Kristen

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