How to Stop Your Puppy’s Territory Marking

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It’s happened again: your puppy lifted their leg up and started peeing in every corner of your house. No matter what you do, your little buddy continues to do what he wants, regardless of training.  It’s annoying (and a little weird) but don’t worry, there’s a rational explanation behind it. Territory marking is normal canine […]

It’s happened again: your puppy lifted their leg up and started peeing in every corner of your house. No matter what you do, your little buddy continues to do what he wants, regardless of training. 

It’s annoying (and a little weird) but don’t worry, there’s a rational explanation behind it. Territory marking is normal canine behavior that dogs use to communicate with each other. 

Think of it in the same way you mark your “territory.” You probably use a marker or a pen to write your name on objects that belong to you. Rather than a pen, your dog uses the scent from their urine to tell other dogs that an object is “theirs”.

Both male and female dogs engage in territory marking. It usually starts when your puppy begins to sexually mature at around 6 months. If your puppy has started to mark their territory, it’s a sign that they’re growing up (and fast).

Of course, we know that this little habit is annoying. It can get frustrating to clean up after your fur-baby. Sometimes, territory marking may be a symptom of an underlying health problem. Fortunately, there are a few effective ways to stop your puppy from continuing to mark its territory.

On this blog, we explore the causes of territory marking and how you can prevent it.

What causes territorial marking?

Before you try to prevent your puppy’s territory marking, be sure to take them to the vet for a checkup. Your vet will rule out any health conditions that could be causing your fur-baby’s territory marking. They may also suggest options like spaying and neutering your puppy. 

Dogs and puppies mark their territory for the following reasons:

  • Unspayed or unneutered. A dog that isn’t spayed or neutered is more likely to mark its territory than those that are. Remember: territory marking is closely related to sexual maturity. Male dogs will mark their scent to make their presence known to other dogs. 

Female dogs usually start marking their scent earlier than males and while in heat. Neutered and spayed dogs do not exhibit territory marking behavior.

  • New home or environment. Whether it’s a home, backyard, or dog park, dogs mark their territory whenever they’re in a new setting. If a new dog is in the neighborhood, your puppy may mark their scent more often than usual. 

If you move to a new home, your little buddy will probably go crazy with marking their territory in any place they can find.

  • Too much socialization. Some dogs are social butterflies; others not so much! Male dogs typically mark their territory when they meet females. They may also mark their scent in locations other dogs have visited. 

Sometimes, socialization is too much for a puppy and if they encounter another dog, they may urine marks to calm themselves down.

  • Anxiety or fear. Dogs feel anxiety and fear just like we do! When puppies become anxious, they may pee more often than usual. If your puppy is anxious or scared, there may be an emotional trigger that’s causing it like loud noises, strangers, and separation anxiety.

According to Fetch by WebMD, other causes of territory marking include emotional problems, lack of training, urinary tract infection, and other medical issues. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian to ensure your furry friend isn’t suffering from an underlying medical condition. 

How do you prevent territorial marking?

If your puppy doesn’t have an underlying health issue, follow the tips below to stop them from urine marking.

  • Spay or neuter your puppy. Your puppy’s territory marking will reduce by 80% once they’re spayed or neutered. Although there are disagreements among veterinary professionals, the best time to neuter or spay your puppy is usually at 6 months of age or when your puppy’s growth plates are ready to close. The right age also depends on your dog’s breed and size. 
  • Calm your puppy down. Too much socialization and changes to their environment can overwhelm your puppy. The world is a scary place and as an owner, it’s your job to comfort your fur-baby. 

As such, don’t let your puppy near objects that they may mark. Try using a dog diaper as a temporary solution. Distract your puppy with an exciting physical or mental game. 

  • Reinforce training. If your puppy’s territory marking is learned behavior, go back to using potty training to change their behavior. Without training, your puppy will continue to mark their territory, even after they’re spayed or neutered.
  • Consult your vet. Anxious dogs need a different type of approach to reduce their territory marking. Remove any objects, people, dogs that trigger their anxious anxiety. Introduce guests and new members of your home to your puppy. 

Give them treats and rewards so that they associate unfamiliar situations with things they like. If nothing works, talk to your vet about medications that can help your furry friend control their emotions. 

What are other useful tips that can help?

While you train and talk to your vet about managing your puppy’s territory marking, here are other useful tips that can help you:

  • Clean, clean, clean. Use cleaning products designed to get rid of stinky urine smell and other dog stains. Make sure to get the hard-to-reach areas. 
  • Make their “spots” inaccessible. If your puppy has a favorite go-to spot for their territory marking, try blocking these areas with gates or spraying it with a scent they won’t like. 
  • Place objects in hard-to-reach areas. When a guest comes over, put their belongings on a table, closet, or cabinet to prevent your fur-baby from marking their scent.
  • Make new friends. If there’s a new resident or dog in your home or a neighbor’s home, introduce them to your dog. Be friendly and make sure that their encounter is a positive one.

If your guest is a baby, make every interaction with your puppy a happy one so that your fur-baby associates your baby with happy feelings.

  • Keep an eye on your puppy. You’ll know when your puppy is thinking about marking its scent. Take them outside as soon as you notice your fur-baby wants to pee. If you can’t watch them, have them stay in their crate or put them on a leash to watch them while you’re doing another activity. 
  • Talk to a dog trainer. Some puppies have behavioral issues that lead to territory marking. A dog trainer can help you resolve your puppy’s marking issues.

Never punish or scold your puppy for their marking. Punishing your puppy only makes the problem worse and may cause your puppy to fear you. They may not want to go to the bathroom when they need to, which can cause them to mark and urinate in your house. We know it’s frustrating to clean after an accident, but it’s important to calm down, clean it up, and assess any causes. Your puppy may be going through its sexual maturity phase so you must be patient with them. They may also be suffering from underlying issues that lead to that behavior. Whatever the case, always talk to your vet, accommodate, and try your best to keep your puppy’s health and happiness in mind!

Check out our blog, How to Calm Your Puppy During A Thunderstorm to learn the best tips in calming your fur-baby down during a storm!