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The essentials

  • Urine marking is a common behavior in dogs — Intact, or unneutered, dogs are especially prone to marking due to higher levels of testosterone.
  • It’s important to distinguish between marking and urinating — While urinating indoors is common among dogs who aren’t housebroken, scent marking is a deliberate act.
  • There are several ways to stop marking in the house — If at-home solutions don’t work, a veterinarian or animal behaviorist can help get your pup on track.

It’s never fun to find Fido with their leg up marking your couch or wall with urine. Marking is a very common dog behavior, especially in male dogs that aren’t neutered. While common, it’s frustrating to constantly clean up pee spots — especially if you don’t find them until hours later!

In addition to being a natural behavior, marking is a way for dogs to communicate with their canine counterparts and, in a sense, stake their claim on certain territories. It’s not just a simple act of relieving themselves. Consider it like a furry graffiti tag saying, “I was here!”

Dogs have scent glands in specific areas, and when they lift a leg or squat to mark, they’re leaving behind a unique scent signature. In the world of doggy language, it’s akin to updating their social media status, letting other dogs know who they are and what they’re all about.

With a little training, you can help your dog learn to only mark outside. Here are nine effective tips to prevent your dog from marking in the house.

How to stop your dog from marking in the house

1. Consider environmental changes

Did you recently move or get a new pet? Sometimes a visitor, new furniture, or a new pet can trigger urine marking. If possible, take steps to help your dog adjust to any lifestyle changes that may have recently happened — such as slowly exposing them to a new cat, new dog, new home, or new baby. Sometimes, your dog just needs time to adjust to the change.

2. Take your pup to the vet

Your vet can examine your dog to ensure that your dog doesn’t have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or other medical conditions that are causing them to mark. Frequent peeing and accidents can be symptoms of a UTI in dogs. In that case, medication can help.

3. Know the difference between marking and urinating

It’s also helpful to know the difference between a dog’s urine marking and urinating . There’s a difference between a dog that isn’t house trained versus a dog that is house trained but is marking in the home. Marking isn’t an accident. It’s an intentional behavior that should be addressed before it becomes worse.

4. Have your dog neutered or spayed

Marking is most common in intact male dogs. Among many other benefits, getting your dog neutered can help prevent marking. Your veterinarian or a local spay and neuter clinic can perform this procedure. Recovery from neutering takes about two weeks. If your dog is young, recovery might take only 7-10 days.

5. Thoroughly clean marked spots

As you’re cleaning any marked areas, make sure you do a thorough job covering up the scent and stains, and use the right materials. According to The Humane Society, it’s best to avoid cleaning chemicals such as ammonia or vinegar because these may encourage your dog to mark the area again.

Use a high-quality pet odor neutralizer once the area is clean — something like the Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover Trigger Spray, which removes stains on contact and uses a light citrus scent to make your home smell clean. This enzymatic cleaner will reduce urine odor and help curb marking behavior.

6. Try to catch your dog in the act

While this can be challenging if you’re not watching your dog all day, this is essential in training your dog not to mark. If you see your dog marking, make a loud noise to distract them and then immediately take them outside on a leash to go potty.

When you can’t watch your pup, they should be in their crate or an enclosed area. Dogs are less likely to pee in the same spot where they sleep. You can also limit your dog’s access to specific rooms in the house to help your carpet stay clean. Baby or dog gates can be very useful for this purpose.

7. Focus on crate training

Crate training can help keep your dog from marking in the house. Again, dogs typically don’t mark the spot where they sleep.

Get your dog comfortable with their crate by using their favorite blankets, toys, treats, and lots of praise. Teach your dog a verbal cue to get them into the crate, and slowly work up to more and more time inside.

8. Temporarily use belly bands

For senior dogs or dogs learning not to mark, belly bands like these from Pet Parents can help prevent your dog from marking in your house. These bands will essentially catch the urine so it doesn’t get on the floor. Bands should be checked often and changed if they’re wet.

👉 Remember that belly bands aren’t a permanent fix for marking and should be used sparingly.

9. NEVER punish your dog

If you find marked spots in your home, never punish your dog for marking. Dogs are unable to connect something they did an hour ago with your current punishment. The best time to correct a behavior is when you catch them in the act. Even then, never yell at or physically punish your dog. Simply tell them no in a firm, stern voice and take them outside.

10. Work with a trainer

If all else fails, a professional dog trainer can help you try new methods to prevent your dog from marking in your home. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation for a local trainer to work with.

Marking is a behavior that is completely possible to prevent. Pet parents just need to know the correct steps to take. By following these tips, you can help your dog learn to stop marking in your house.

Why do dogs mark?

Scent marking is when dogs pee or poop as a way to send a social signal. It’s generally used for dogs to claim an area as their territory or to send a message — something like, “Hey, I was here!”

It’s very common for male dogs to lift their legs to pee on objects. While marking is most common in unneutered males , female dogs (both spayed and unspayed) and neutered males can also mark.

Some dogs are more likely to mark when they visit new households, or when new visitors are in your home. Observing when and where your dog tends to mark will give you clues you can use to help reverse the behavior.

Why does a neutered dog still mark?

Even after our furry friends undergo the neutering procedure, some might still feel the urge to leave their aromatic calling cards around the neighborhood. Neutering significantly reduces hormonal influences that drive marking behaviors, but it doesn’t always entirely eliminate the instinct. Sometimes, marking becomes a deeply ingrained habit or a learned behavior that’s more about communication and territory than hormones. 

Neutered dogs may still mark in response to a sudden change in their environment, social dynamics, or even just out of excitement. The good news is that with a dash of patience, positive reinforcement, and consistent guidance, we can help our neutered pals curb the urge to mark and focus on less aromatic ways of expressing themselves in the canine social scene.

What age do dogs start urine marking?

Dogs can start dabbling in the art of urine marking as early as six months old, typically hitting their teenage phase. Just like humans, they go through a bit of a rebellious stage. It’s during this time that hormones start doing the tango, and your once-innocent pup might suddenly feel the urge to leave their aromatic signature on fire hydrants, trees, or even your favorite couch leg. Keep in mind, though, that the timing can vary depending on the dog’s breed, size, and individual personality.

Frequently asked questions

How do I stop my dog from peeing in the house?

You can stop your dog from peeing in the house by using crate training, firmly but gently correcting the behavior if you catch your dog in the act, and working with your veterinarian and trainer to identify potential medical issues and help with behavior modification.

Do dogs pee for attention?

Yes, dogs sometimes pee for attention. Consistent training can help stop urine marking.

Is my dog marking or do they have a UTI?

Frequent peeing and accidents could be symptoms of a UTI. With marking, dogs intentionally pee a small amount and the pee typically is on vertical surfaces instead of horizontal surfaces, because of leg lifting.

What is the difference between marking and peeing in dogs?

Marking and peeing serve different purposes in the canine world. When a dog pees, it’s typically for elimination purposes, addressing a full bladder. On the other hand, marking involves a deliberate release of a small amount of urine in strategic locations, often on vertical surfaces, to leave a scent mark. Marking is more about communication, claiming territory, or expressing social signals to other dogs.

What repels dogs from peeing in the house?

Dogs can be sensitive to certain scents, and there are several natural repellents you can use to deter them from marking indoors. Citrus scents, like orange or lemon, are often disliked by dogs, so you can use citrus-infused sprays or place citrus peels in strategic areas.

Additionally, products with a bitter taste, like commercial anti-chew sprays, can be applied to surfaces to discourage marking. Remember to clean marked areas thoroughly to remove any residual scent that might attract your dog back to the same spot.

Why is my dog suddenly marking in the house?

Sudden marking indoors can be triggered by various factors. Changes in the household, such as a new pet, a move, or even new furniture, can stir up the urge to mark and claim territory. Hormonal changes, even in spayed or neutered dogs, can play a role.

Stress or anxiety, whether from changes in routine or environmental factors, might also lead to sudden marking. Addressing the root cause, providing stability, and reinforcing positive behaviors can help put a pause on this sudden penchant for indoor marking.