how to stop a male dog from marking inside the house
Pet Health Questions and Answers

Why Do Dogs Mark Territory Inside the House?

Dogs like marking their territory in public places. One of the best things about your dog peeing so much on walks, however, is that there is surely nothing left in their bladder by the time they get home.

That’s the theory, anyway – the truth is, a single-minded dog can often manage to squeeze an extra drop of urine or two when they’re particularly determined to lay claim to something as their personal property. It’s not an everyday occurrence, but sometimes dogs will do whatever it takes to convince everybody around them that the contents of a human home belong to them.

This guide will discuss why dogs mark territory in the home, why they’re treating your expensive antique sideboard like a fire hydrant, and how you can put a stop to this activity.

What Does Dog Marking Mean?

Stated simply, dog marking is when a canine lays claim to something by peeing on it.

This is a common behavior while your dog is out and about, as these territorial animals will look to carve out tiny kingdoms to call their own whenever they find a patch of land untainted by another dog’s urine. This is why dogs are so keen to sniff along the ground and investigate the messages and information left behind by their fellow canines.

As far as your dog is concerned, nothing is off-limits for marking. Mailboxes, lampposts, street signs, fire hydrants … even other dogs. Your pooch may cock their leg or squat over any one of these and claim them for themselves.

However, this is an action that should be limited to outdoors. If a dog or puppy has been toilet trained, they won’t be relieving themselves inside the house regardless of any urge to mark their territory.

My Dog is Marking in the House Suddenly

If your dog has never shown any previous interest in marking at home but has suddenly taken to doing so, you’ll have to look into the possible reasons why.

More often than not, the explanation comes down to insecurity. If your dog is feeling threatened, they’ll start to mark territory within the house to embolden themselves and feel as though they still belong.

As Pet Wellbeing explain, some of the things that may spark these feelings of anxiety include:

  • Moving into a new property, where everything is unfamiliar.
  • The arrival of a new dog (or another animal) into the family home.
  • The arrival of a new person, such as a baby, or the departure of a beloved human companion.
  • Significant changes to a dog’s routine.

Older dog marking house due to new dog

This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. There could be entirely different reasons why a dog starts urinating indoors that have nothing to do with deliberate marking. These include:

  • Lack of appropriate toilet training.
  • Not being taken for a bathroom break for several hours.
  • Ill health, such as a Urinary Tract Infection or something more severe.
  • Old age is leading to a weaker bladder.

And then, of course, there’s good old-fashioned fun! Dogs love to mark their territory, and it satisfies a primal instinct within them. If not been trained not to behave in such a way while inside the home, then they may not be able to resist doing so.

A rescue dog is the most likely canine to take to marking in the home, both upon arrival at your house and if anything changes afterward. When you’re planning on bringing a new pet into your home, learn as much as you can about their history so you can make them as comfortable as possible to prevent any anxious marking. And if you already have a dog, bear in mind that this new arrival is likely to be hugely unsettling for the incumbent canine.

My Dog is Peeing in the House After Getting a New Dog

This is a very common behavior, and as frustrating as it can be, it’s nothing to worry about – provided you can nip it in the bud before it goes too far.

The reasons that your incumbent dog has started to pee in the house are pretty simple – he or she is feeling jealous or threatened in some other way.

  • Have you bought home a new puppy, and you’re showering them with the kind of attention that your dog is used to receiving?
  • Has another animal visited the home, leaving your dog feeling as though they need to reassert their status as the resident furball?
  • Is your dog, who is used to eating and drinking alone, now expected to share his or her food and water bowls?
  • Does this new dog tend to follow your existing pet around the house, sitting alongside them on preferred spots on the sofa or bed and thus ‘invading’ the incumbent dog’s territory?
  • Is the new arrival not toilet trained, and your existing dog is peeing over the top of their urine stains to form a pack bond?
  • Does your dog seem to be afraid of this new arrival, cowering in their presence and generally demonstrating many submissive behaviors?

These are just some of the reasons why your dog may start to pee all over the house while your attention is focused elsewhere. It’s going to be a considerable period of adjustment for your existing pet, and they’ll need your understanding and patience as they gain an understanding of the new status quo.

To put a stop to this behavior, follow the advice that we’ll be laying out below. There are many techniques that you can employ, and deterrents that will stop your pooch from treating the whole house as their potty. If nothing seems to work, however, it will be time to call in in professional help; you may need to consult a vet or behavioral specialist.

dog marking house after being neutered

How to Stop a Dog from Marking Inside the House

If your dog has taken the marking in the home, there are all kinds of things that you can do to put a stop to this behavior.

  • Learn Your Dog’s Marking Triggers. Arguably the most straightforward way of preventing your dog from marking in the home is to learn how they behave when they are about to do so, and stop them. Usually, a dog will have a good, long sniff and snuffle, tilt their head as though thinking about whether to proceed and then cock a leg or crouch so they can release a stream of pee and lay claim to whatever they have found so appealing. Watch your pet like a hawk, and when they start to display these behaviors offer a strict command such as, ”stop!” or, “not there!” If you have easy access to an outside space, follow this by scooping up your dog or hurrying them outdoors and encouraging them to explore. Canines are smart – they’ll soon put two and two together. In addition to this, you may also want to consider removing particular items, smells or sights from your home if they appear to encourage your pooch to mark instinctively.
  • Neuter Your Male Dog, or Spay Your Female Dog. A dog that has not been ‘fixed’ is always going to be more territorial, and this means that they will always be keener to mark items in your home. If you have a male dog, neutering will reduce their testosterone levels and minimize the chances of them seeking to lay claim to whatever they come into contact with. Female dogs can be more territorial by their very nature, but spaying may help with this, as they will no longer go into the season. This means that they won’t be tempted to mark in an attempt at gaining the attention of a male dog and announcing that they are available for procreation
  • Ensure Your Dog Gets Plenty of One-on-One Attention. Bringing a new dog into your home, having a baby, finding a new partner, taking on a lodger, getting a big promotion at work, having to deal for a sick or injured family member… all of these are possible reasons why you may suddenly find yourself extremely busy, and unable to give your pet quite as much attention as they are used to. Well, we don’t mean to put too fine a point on it, but that is not Fido’s problem. You can’t just put your dog on a shelf and start ignoring them the moment it becomes inconvenient to give them as much attention as usual; that’s not how this relationship works. Make time for your dog, and ensure they get plenty of quality time with you, as failing to do so will make them anxious. As we know, an anxious dog is one that is prone to marking all over your home in a desperate attempt at reasserting their role as a pivotal figure in your life.
  • Take Your Dog for Plenty of Long Walks. This is sound advice for any dog-related problem for a reason – it rarely fails. In this instance, taking your dog (or dogs, plural) out for a long stroll will give them plenty of chances to mark all kinds of public places, emptying their bladders in the process. In addition to this, a long walk in the great outdoors will leave your dog feeling relaxed and happy – as well as contentedly shattered. A comfortable and chilled out dog will not see any need to mark territory within the home.
  • Clean Up Any Traces of Urine in the Home. If your dog marks in the home, it’s not the end of the world – it happens. However, what’s hugely important is that you dispose of any semblance of the evidence. That’s not just for aesthetic reasons, but also to ensure that the scent doesn’t start messing with your pet’s mind; if they smell pee, they’ll start to believe that this is their usual spot for a comfort break. Have more than one dog in your home? Then they’ll join in too, and before you know it your living room rug becomes the premier urinal for every canine in your zip code. Pick up a specialized cleaning product from a pet store that is designed to eliminate the scent of dog pee, and make sure that there is no trace of the scent in your home. If you’re vigilant about taking action as soon as you notice a stain, you’ll get on top of this. You may be surprised at how quickly the marking behavior comes to an end.
  • If You Need to Make Changes to Your Dog’s Routine, You Should Do it Gradually. Dogs take a great deal of comfort from routine, and they don’t do well with chaos. If your dog is used to being taken out for a bathroom break at 7 am, 1 pm, 5 pm, and 9 pm stick with this as much as possible – don’t just drop one of the walks from their schedule without warning. Likewise, if you need to move the furniture around in your home, do in installments rather than sending your pooch out for a walk and letting them return to a whole new arrangement. This will confuse them, make them think, “hey, why are the humans moving all of my stuff?” and possibly start marking to declare everything around them to belong to them again!
  • Ensure Your Dog’s Scent Follows Them Around. Take an item of clothing such as a bandana and hide it in your dog’s bed for a few days, so they roll around on it. After a while, when your dog has coated the garment with their own scent, loosely tie it around their neck. This will help your dog feel that their own scent is everywhere they go, and they are less likely to feel the need to mark to create a familiar and comforting aroma.
  • Introduce Your Dog to Other Canines So They Can Form a Pack. One of the reasons that dogs love to mark is so they can announce their presence – it’s the equivalent of writing, “Fido WoZ Ere” on a toilet wall using a marker pen. If you introduce your dog to the pets of friends and family members and they hit it off, your dogs may form a little pack of their own. If this happens, take them all out for walks together as much as possible. This way, if one member of the pack marks territory, the others will quickly follow suit to denote pack membership and promote an image of strength in numbers. Do this enough, and there won’t be anything left in your dog’s bladder by the time he or she gets home!

Of course, all of this pales into significance compared to the most important rule of them all – if your dog starts marking indoors, never punish them for it! The old adage with training a dog is to praise the positive and to ignore the undesirable, and that very much applies here.

If you tell your dog off for marking, they could mistakenly believe that every kind of elimination is deemed to be bad behavior. Instead, make a big deal and provide your dog will all kinds of fuss if they keep their marking to the great outdoors. Positive reinforcement is always the most significant driving force for dogs.

Why has my dog started marking territory?

You can always seek the help of a vet or a behavioral specialist if you’re struggling to get your dog to stop marking indoors, but don’t give up hope too soon – it may take a lot of patience, especially if your dog has been rescued from traumatic circumstances. If you’re looking to lend Fido a helping hand in his attempts at breaking the marking habit, you may be able to do so with the aid of a deterrent spray.

Dog Marking Deterrent Spray

Much like sprays that stop your dog from chewing on the furniture when they’re left alone, any reputable pet store will sell products that encourage your dog not to pee within the home. Whether this tendency to urinate indoors stems from marking or just poor toilet training, the result will be the same! This means that you can use a spray to achieve your goals.

An alternative method could be to encourage your dog to pee outdoors. There will be a plethora of scented products available that will help with this, such as pee posts and astroturf. These items will give off very distinct pheromones that encourage your dog to empty their bladder in these pre-approved locations.

If they do this often enough, they’ll soon get into the habit of relieving themselves outdoors – and that will lead to all kinds of marking adventures as they explore new surroundings while you take them out for walkies!

Homemade Deterrents for Dog Marking

There’s no need to purchase products that will deter your dog from marking in the home – there’s plenty of organic remedies that you can use from your fridge or pantry.

Why has my dog started marking territory?

As per the advice of Cuteness, these include:

  • You can add ammonia to any carpets or furniture to deter dogs, as they can’t stand the smell. Just a couple of words of warning for this product though – it may smell a little like urine so accompany it with an air freshener, and it will tempt cats into peeing on the spot, so avoid it if you have feline family members!
  • Lemon. Dogs loathe the scent of lemon, and rubbing it against anything that your canine has taking to marking is a surefire way of keeping the house dry.
  • White Vinegar. You can drop vinegar from the bottle or mix it with water and spray it over your furniture for a natural dog deterrent – be careful about ensuring that you don’t do any permanent damage to your expensive fabrics!
  • Rubbing Alcohol. This product ticks many boxes, as it also acts as a natural disinfectant and antibacterial agent, meaning that it cleans while driving your dog away.

If you’re not keen on spraying chemicals all over your house (and if you decide to do so, make sure you don’t hit your dog and squirt anything in their eyes!), the other option is to prevent your dog from leaving a trail of pee anywhere.

You could use dog diapers to contain their pee while your dog is in the house, which could eventually deter Fido from emptying his bladder until it’s removed. Nobody enjoys the sensation of feeling wet, after all. Belly Bands are another option, as they are designed primarily to prevent dogs from marking. Just be aware that this could feel a little humiliating for your dog, and leave them feeling as they are being punished for engaging in their instincts. Only reach for these techniques if you are in dire need of changing your dog’s habits, and you’re at your wit’s end.

Marking indoors is not welcome behavior in any way, and you should do whatever you can to coach your dog out of it. Be kind and patient with them though especially if the behavior stems from a rescue hound or as a result of a substantial change in circumstances. It’ll be a case of your dog not knowing any better, as despite myths that claim otherwise canines are not capable of ‘revenge peeing’!

As long as you can reassure your pet they are essential, they matter, and their needs will be met, you shouldn’t have too many problems with them marking in the house. Enjoy your time together, and let them lay claim to whatever they may take a shine to while out walking. That way everybody will be happy.