How to Stop Your Dog From Marking Indoors

by Susan Paretts
Dogs mark their territory with their urine.

Dogs mark their territory with their urine.

dog image by .shock from Fotolia.com

Dogs mark their territory by releasing urine onto surfaces in the areas they live in and visit. Their urine contains pheromones derived from testosterone in males and parahydroxybenzoic acid in females. These chemicals communicate messages to other dogs, warning them away from the area or advertising their availability to mate. Needless to say, such behavior can be unpleasant when it occurs indoors. Take steps to ensure your dog marks only outdoors.

Step 1

Spay or neuter your dog. Neutering stops male dogs from urine marking in 60 percent of cases and spaying stops female dogs from marking in almost all cases, according to PetPlace.com. This procedure, performed by a veterinarian, removes the dog's reproductive organs, preventing the dog from mating and stopping related behaviors.

Step 2

Clean all previously marked areas of your home with a cleaner containing enzymes or carbon dioxide to break down and eliminate the chemicals contained in the dog's urine. Wipe down the areas with water, then soak them with the cleaner and allow it to dry naturally so that it breaks down the urine. Wash removable fabric items in your washing machine after spritzing them with an enzymatic cleaner.

Step 3

Prevent your dog from accessing the areas he has marked in the past by closing the door to that room. Place items you don't want soiled, such as guest belongings or certain home decor, in a room your dog cannot access or in a closet to prevent your dog from urinating on them.

Step 4

Keep your friends' dogs away from your home. Some dogs become excited or anxious around such temporary guests and will mark.

Step 5

Prevent your dog from looking out your windows by closing the blinds or curtains and distracting him with toys and games. The sight of dogs outdoors can cause your dog to mark territory indoors.

Step 6

Spray a dog-specific synthetic pheromone spray in areas your dog has soiled in the past. These chemicals mimic those secreted by lactating mother dogs and help reduce stress, which can induce marking behavior in dogs. These pheromones may be especially helpful in dogs that mark because of separation anxiety.

Step 7

Train your dog to get along with any new arrivals to your home such as babies and other pets. Give your dog a treat in the presence of the new arrival, play with the dog and verbally praise him to associate the new arrival with something pleasant and nonthreatening. The stress of a strange new person or animal in the home can trigger marking behavior in dogs.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog urine cleaner
  • Dog pheromone spray
  • Dog treats

Tips

  • Your dog may be not marking but rather just eliminating, particularly if the dog is not house-trained. Train your dog to go outdoors by frequently walking him to the same spot outside and giving him a command like "bathroom" or "do your business." You can even place some of his urine in this spot from an indoor accident to encourage him to eliminate in this area.
  • Keep your dog tethered to you on a long leash indoors to ensure he does not mark in your presence or sneak away.
  • If you catch your dog marking indoors, clap your hands or make a loud noise to distract him; immediately bring him outdoors.
  • Some dogs mark areas with feces; use the same tips to deal with this issue. Many enzymatic cleaners will also remove the chemicals in dog feces to get rid of the smell and stains.
  • If you notice your dog marking outdoors, encourage this behavior with verbal praise. Discouraging outdoor marking can lead to your dog marking indoors.
  • Special wraps called Belly Bands prevent male dogs from spraying urine in your home by absorbing the urine such as a diaper does.
  • Cleaners that cover odors will not remove urine, and your dog will still mark those previously marked areas. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, which can smell like urine to a dog and cause him to mark the cleaned area.
  • Dogs previously confined to crates at a young age may be more prone to mark indoors because they are used to standing in and smelling their own urine and excrement; many puppy mills keep young dogs confined like this.

Warnings

  • If your dog suddenly starts urine marking inside your home, take him to a veterinarian for a physical examination. Some medical problems, such as urinary tract infections, can cause inappropriate urination in dogs.
  • Discuss anti-anxiety medications for your dog with your veterinarian. These medications help reduce your dog's stress levels and make behavior modification easier and more effective.
  • Never yell at or strike your dog, or rub your dog's nose in his urine or feces, if he soils indoors; not only is this cruel, it encourages aggression in your dog and increases his stress level, causing increased marking behavior.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.