How to stop your dog from marking

Right up there with teaching a dog not to bark or jump is marking.  What is Marking? Marking is a behavior that dogs use to advertise his existence with the intention of letting other dogs know he is there to protect if necessary.  Marking also lets other dogs know of their reproductive status and gender.  Dogs who are not spayed or neutered do the most marking, which is why it’s important to spay or neuter your dog as soon as medically possible.


The job of preventing your dog from marking is monumental.  It requires constant vigilance, tons of patience, and lots of cleaning supplies.  Further, marking can much more easily be curtailed by using a crate.  But first, it’s important to make sure there are no medical issues that could be causing this behavior.


Having ruled out medical issues, it’s time to start the process.  You will need:


  • Enzyme-based cleaning liquid like Carbona’s Oxy-Powered Pet Stain & Odor Remover or Rocco & Roxie’s Stain and Odor Eliminator
  • Collar and long leash – your dog must be watched and in sight at all times during this period of high scrutiny
  • Crate – for times when you have to leave the home and sleeping at night
  • Toys – to work out his excess energy


Training your dog not to mark is very similar to puppy training – thinking along those lines will get you in the right gear for this process


So most dog owners leave water down for their pups all day.  In reality, you only need to leave water for 20 minutes concurrently with the amount of time you put food down.  After 20 minutes, the water and food should be picked up until the next meal, with the exception that water should be put down after periods of exercise.  This way, if you keep a schedule, you will know when your dog needs to go out to pee. 


Let’s assume your dog has finished his breakfast and has gone out to pee and poop.  Let’s also assume you have thoroughly cleaned prior marking spots with one of the above enzymatic cleaners (several times over a period of several days).  It’s time to increase your vigilance.  Put your long lead on your dog’s collar and keep an eye on him.  You may want to restrict his access to only a couple of rooms during this period of super-vigilance so you can keep a better eye on him.  At the first sign of potential marking (sniffing, turning in circles, sidling along furniture, take him outside.  In fact, I would recommend taking the pup outside every hour and a half to be sure he doesn’t have to go.  When he does go, make sure you give him lots of “yay!’s” and “good boy!’s) and treats.


When you have to run errands or go out for business, put your dog in the crate.  Your dog can stay in the crate for up to 4 hours, but beyond that I would recommend a dog walker if you don’t have a family member that can take him out for a reprieve.  Of course, at night, he can sleep in the crate for longer.


After a month or two, you can reduce your vigilance somewhat but continue to follow the above process.  By month three, you should be able to relax the restrictions substantially, but keep up your vigilance until you get the sense the marking is behind you.

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