If ever a behavior was misunderstood, it's a dog’s propensity to lift the leg and territory mark. For a pet parent, this is infuriating behavior as it is unhygienic, smelly, and can ruin your best furniture. This frustration often leads to punishment, with the perpetrator being shouted out or smacked. However, when you realize what’s really going through the dog’s mind, things take on a different complexion.
Your dog is not trying to assert himself, dominate, or damage your possessions. No. He’s advertising that he’s prepared to protect his patch…including you. For example, the dog who territory marks in a corridor may be protecting his owners' bedrooms, and in doggy speak saying how he’ll defend you from intruders. Or else, there is the anxious dog that pees on your sports bag because it smells of the outdoors and he wants reassurance.
Of course, none of this is particularly comforting to a pet parent with a pee problem, but when retraining it’s important to understand that protection or anxiety are at the heart of the problem.
Breaking a territory marking habit is a complex task. It requires you to remove lingering odors that draw the dog back, prevent boredom, and build the dog’s confidence. And oh yes, did we mention neutering? Desexing is an important part of reducing the hormonal urge to mark.
Retraining is deceptively difficult, as it requires complete consistency of command, plus constant vigilance to prevent marking before it happens. The pet parent needs to stay one step ahead of the dog, by anticipating trigger points and eliminating them.
Also, if your dog used to be well house trained and has recently started territory marking, get him checked by a vet. You should never assume the problem is behavioral until you know for sure he isn't suffering from a urinary infection which catches him short.
You will need:
Training a dog not to scent mark is a lot like potty training a puppy, so be prepared to be proactive and prevents accidents before they happen.
My rescue dog has never peed in my house. However, when I take him out to public places, or to others houses where dogs live or have lived, he is constantly marking his territory indoors. How do I teach him that all indoors, not just our home are not places to pee?
Hello Erin, First, work on his general respect and trust toward you. When he marks around other dogs, he is competing with them. If he is looking to you for leadership, then you telling him not to pee on something will mean more to him. Check out the article that I have linked below for some ways you can build respect without being too confrontational. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Second, when you catch him lifting a leg or starting to, quickly clap your hands loudly and say "Ah-Ah". Your voice does not have to be loud, just firm, but your clap should be loud enough to surprise him and interrupt what he is doing. The goal is to surprise him and get his attention. Having his respect will help. Pay attention to any competing happening between him and another dog there, and interrupt it. You and the other dog's owner are in charge at that house, not the dog that wins the competing and the house rules and your actions with the dogs should reflect that. If either dog has aggression, then hire a professional trainer to help you in person though. If you are taking him places where other dogs have marked - like most large pet stores, then be vigilant and watch him more carefully. Someone's home where there is another dog present but that dog hasn't been marking is more of a competing and respect issue. Marking somewhere that's already been marked - like a pet store piller that another dog peed on is a lot harder for a dog because the store smells like being outside so many male dogs don't realize the difference. When you take him somewhere like that, you can interrupt him if he attempts to pee by clapping, but also teach him to do a sit-stay or down-stay automatically whenever you stop walking, and reward him for doing it, so that he has less opportunities to pee. He should either be heeling by your side, paying attention to you while walking (which also helps with respect) or be sitting or laying down when you stop - removing the opportunity to pee. If you had more control of the situation while at the pet store then the urine smell from the other dogs would be removed with a cleaner that contains enzymes to break down the scent molecularly to fully get it out. Since you cannot control the location's smell, then adding more structure to your visit and generally working on his listening and respect are what I recommend. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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