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Tues. Tip: Stop the Dog from Marking

lifted legFor most people, housebreaking a dog is little more than a temporary inconvenience.  Typically, a new puppy between 8-10 weeks of age is brought to its new home where it is crate trained and intensely monitored for the first few months while outside of its crate.  When the pup inevitably urinates or defecates on the rug, the doting pet owner can apply a negative verbal command right away before promptly shuttling the offending dog through the back door to the potty area.  For the bulk of pet owners, a well-prepared, consistent, patient plan for dealing with the potty accidents will extinguish the disgusting behavior fairly quickly.

hardwoodWhen it comes to potty training, some pet owners must feel as if they have bought or received a broken dog.  They have followed correct potty protocol to fruition, yet they are forced to walk around their homes like an Army private navigating a field of landmines.  To their horror, their 2 or 3 year old dog who had been potty trained for years, has suddenly initiated an onslaught of yellow drops on the walls and damp, smelly carpet stains.  It is enough to make owning the dog unbearable: urine stains are smelly, unsanitary, destructive and an invitation to more urine stains.

Why Do Some Dogs Continue to Mark?

cat treeDogs consider their urine deposits as having laid claim on an item or piece or property.  Dogs are not “marking” because they are diabetic or affected by some other health issues, so it is important to rule these causes out with a visit to the veterinarian.  Assuming good health, dogs are marking because they are intimidated.  Perhaps a new pet has been brought home.  Maybe a cat tree purchased from the pet store has been set on display in the living room (reeking of other animals). 

Dogs cannot understand why their masters would bring another animal into their home.  A dog reduces its anxiety when it engages in marking behavior because it makes other animals aware of that dog’s pack position and dominance in the householdThe anxious dog marks to set boundaries and limits for any other pet in the household.  Not all dogs will begin marking given the same stimulants & environmental cues.  A dog struggling to be pack leader is the typical offender when it comes to indoor marking.  Aside from the dog’s temperament, it takes a special set of circumstances to end up with a dog that marks (i.e. multiple pets in the home). 

Prepare for a “Mark-Free” Environment

put things awaySetting up a puppy for success should ideally begin as soon as the new pup is acquired.  Even if a puppy will not develop the temperament that leads to obsessive marking, one should prepare for the worst just in case.  Any item brought inside the home (groceries, paper towels, etc.) should be put away into a storage closet immediately.  Foreign smells that are new to a dog will encourage marking behavior from an insecure canine struggling for dominance. 

Multiple pet owners must introduce their new pups slowly to the rest of the pack, consistently doling out equal attention, commands, and rewards across all of the dogs.  Many veterinary offices and rescue organizations advocate neutering a new male pup before they’ve fully matured to further curb the urge to mark (please note that for some breeds and dogs, neutering could do more damage than good).

When All Else Fails…

It is crucial to remain patient.  Pet owners must remind themselves that the marking behavior is not from a lack of bladder control or unadulterated disobedience.  The offending dog is most likely as anxious and stressed as the owner, precipitating the gradual destruction of carpet and hardwood flooring.  Therefore, when a dog continues to mark despite any preparatory work, owners can do a few things to control the behavior.

wrapConsistent markers must wear wraps at all times.  Part of the long term strategy of extinguishing the behavior has to do with slowly purging the house of unfamiliar scents and the smell of urine.  When the dog wears a properly fitted wrap, it still has full mobility and comfort, yet it is forced to soil itself when it feels the need to mark.  A soiled wrap is disgusting to remove, but it does dissuade the dog from marking and it protects floors and surfaces at the same time.

dapConsistent markers should also wear a calming, pheromone collar.  Makers of such collars, such as Adaptil and Sentry, have researched chemicals that are excreted by canines in order to mimic their feedback system.  By synthesizing the pheromones that pacify canines naturally, pet owners can better control their dogs at any chosen time.  If multiple pets in the home are marking, these same manufactures also make socket plug-ins that accomplish the same goal.

small dog workLastly, owners need to make their offending, piddling pooches work.  Depending on the breed, the right kind of work, physical activity, and mental stimulation will ease anxiety and strengthen the pet owner/dog bond.  For a large breed, work might be object focused (retrieving a ball or decoy), jogging, pulling or even bite work.  For a medium to smaller breed, work can be as simple as sit and stay commands or supervised play.  Most breeds of dog want to work.  A dog that is marking, not crate-trained and owned by a person who gives the dog no work… is a truly sad, unfulfilled dog.

Premier Pet Relocation is committed to working with family pets regardless of their issues.  In addition to our relocation services, we offer short-term boarding for dogs and cats, complete with private, temperature controlled rooms and a hands-on staff that is well experienced with handling animals.  Please give us a call to discuss your specific pet needs with one of our professionals: