Help! My Dog Is Mark­ing in The House

An ac­tion plan for stop­ping in­door mark­ing


An ac­tion plan for stop­ping in­door mark­ing.

Q“I re­cently adopted an adult Basset Hound who seems to have an in­grained mark­ing habit. Though he will oc­ca­sion­ally pee in the house (most of the time will ask to be let out) he will mark in the house on a daily ba­sis if not mon­i­tored. I have ex­pe­ri­ence house­train­ing dogs but what do you do about mark­ing?” —Frus­trated in Fredricks­burg

AMale dogs lift their legs and uri­nate to mark ter­ri­tory. This be­hav­iour is in­grained in ca­nine DNA. Pheromones in the urine give other dogs in­for­ma­tion about the one who left the mark. If you watch closely the next time you’re at a dog park, you will very likely see male dogs try­ing to out-mark each other by uri­nat­ing higher and higher on a ver­ti­cal sur­face. Un­der­stand­able though that might be, hav­ing a dog leave his mark around your house is a whole dif­fer­ent story. But not to worry! There are things you can do to keep your house pee-free.

You didn’t men­tion whether your Basset boy is neutered. Neu­ter­ing male dogs some­times puts a stop to urine mark­ing, al­though it is not a guar­an­teed cure. The other thing that must be men­tioned is man­age­ment. You said he marks “if not mon­i­tored,” so the easy so­lu­tion is to make sure he is mon­i­tored. Of course, that’s eas­ier said than done. So, dur­ing times when you can­not watch him, crate him. If he is not ac­cus­tomed to a crate, take the time to ac­cli­mate him to it grad­u­ally by feed­ing meals and giv­ing treats in­side with the door left open, and even­tu­ally clos­ing him in for short pe­ri­ods when you are home. Giv­ing him some­thing won­der­ful to chew on is help­ful as well. When you do ac­tu­ally leave him home alone crated, potty him first, and make sure he is not left crated for longer than three to four hours at a time.

I’m cu­ri­ous whether the mark­ing oc­curs in one par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion or in var­i­ous ar­eas of the house. Let’s say it hap­pens in one spot—on the side of your couch, for ex­am­ple—and you clean and de­odor­ize it each time. From your dog’s point of view, he’s gone to the trou­ble of putting his scent there, and for some strange rea­son it just keeps dis­ap­pear­ing! What’s a dog to do but reap­ply at the first op­por­tu­nity? If this is the case in your home, the next time you’ve fin­ished clean­ing up the ac­tual urine, try this trick: Take a rag and wipe it around your dog’s rear, where the anal glands are lo­cated. Then, wipe the rag on the spot where he tends to mark. Noth­ing of­fen­sive to hu­mans will be left, but it will leave the scent of your dog. There­fore, your dog would have no rea­son to keep mark­ing there. Pretty nifty, eh?

Another con­sid­er­a­tion is whether you have had dogs in the house pre­vi­ously. Some­times the odours of other dogs linger in the car­pet­ing, on couch cush­ions, and in other places. If that is the case, it may be that your dog is try­ing to mark over that scent. Get­ting your car­pet, cush­ions, and wher­ever else your dog is mark­ing pro­fes­sion­ally cleaned could solve your is­sue.

If, de­spite your best ef­forts, you ab­so­lutely can­not change your dog’s be­hav­iour and crat­ing is not an op­tion, you could man­age the sit­u­a­tion by us­ing a belly band. A belly band is a nar­row strip of soft, stretchy fab­ric that Vel­cros closed. It is placed around a dog’s waist and con­tains an ab­sorbent ma­te­rial. This, of course, pre­vents dogs from uri­nat­ing or mark­ing. We rec­om­mend try­ing the belly bands by Pet Par­ents (pet­par­ents­—they have dif­fer­ent sizes and colors to fit your dog and life­style. If you do choose to use a belly band, be sure to re­move it pe­ri­od­i­cally to take your dog out­side to al­low him to uri­nate. Ni­cole Wilde is an award-win­ning au­thor of ten books on ca­nine be­hav­iour. Her books, sem­i­nar DVDs, and Wilde About Dogs blog can be found at

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