How to stop a new dog from marking in the house



Do any of you have dogs that try to mark in the house?

How did you stop or prevent the behavior?

I just about died when my parents told me my dog Ace had peed on their indoor plant. It’s funny to think about it now, but at the time it wasn’t funny!

Since then I’ve been extra cautious when bringing my dog into other people’s homes. He stays on the leash or near me so I can supervise.

Indoor marking is a fairly common problem with dogs, and it’s one of those frustrating behaviors that might cause someone to surrender his or her dog.

So, I’m hoping we could all share a few tips to help each other out.

Sometimes new dog owners are unaware that marking can be a problem, especially on the first day home when everything is new to the dog. The new owners may be shocked when the “potty trained” rescue dog pees all over the cat’s scratching post (yep, seen that happen a few times).

As with all training topics, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here are some of mine:

Tips to stop a dog from marking in the house

1. Lots of supervision.

When I bring a new dog into my home, I keep the dog on a 6-foot leash and near me at all times. I do this even if I’ve been told the dog is housebroken.

A dog that is potty trained could still attempt to mark in a new indoor area. Marking is not the same thing as having an “accident.” I’ve also learned from experience that just because a dog is potty trained in one home does not necessarily mean he knows what to do in another home.

If I can’t supervise, then the dog stays in a kennel or at least in a smaller part of the house such as a bathroom or laundry room.

“ … just because a dog is potty trained in one home does not necessarily mean he knows what to do in another home.”

After some serious supervision and prevention for a day or two (sometimes much longer), I would give the dog more freedom.

2. Block the behavior.

I do everything I can to prevent or stop the dog from marking. Ideally, I will redirect his attention by calling his name or asking him to sit well before he has a chance to mark, but if it’s a close call I will break out my more serious tone and say “Hey!” or “No!”

This of course should be followed by praise for an appropriate behavior such as sitting.

Keep an extra eye on your dog around cat scratching posts, the ends of the couch and spots where other dogs have had accidents in the past.

3. Use a dog belly band (male wrap).

A belly band fits around a male dog’s belly, covering his man parts so if he does mark it will go onto the belly band instead of onto your furniture. It’s kind of like a diaper, only it’s designed to catch small amounts of urine. The ones I’ve used were washable and reusable.

A belly band does not train the dog to stop marking, but it’s a helpful tool to have while he’s learning. Boy was this a life saver when I had certain foster dogs!

Female dogs can also mark in the house, by the way. If it’s a real problem with your lady dog, you could try using a doggy diaper for the time being. Just take it off her when you take her outside to go potty.

4. Keep visiting new areas.

Once the dog seems to have stopped marking in your home, it’s a good idea to keep bringing him to new areas so he can learn appropriate behavior in other situations.

You’ll need to supervise him very closely, of course. Be ready to correct him or redirect his attention. Carrying treats and asking the dog to sit or “watch” is a good way to keep his attention on you rather than sniffing and potentially marking your friend’s couch.

Pet stores are good places to practice this, since there are lots of tempting dog smells. You could also try visiting a tolerant friend’s house.

Ace on a bench5. Keep on rewarding good behavior.

When your dog relieves himself or marks outside, tell him he’s a good dog. Sometimes we forget to reward the basic behavior, but it’s really important.

There are certain outdoor objects I don’t want my dog to pee on such as park benches, so I make sure to re-direct his attention around them and reward him for peeing on the bushes or trees. He is almost 8 years old and the training never ends.

Finally, what do you guys think about spaying and neutering?

I know the majority of readers are in support of spaying and neutering most pet dogs. But does it actually help prevent unwanted behaviors such as marking?

In my limited experience with unaltered dogs (male and female), I have noticed that these dogs were more likely to mark in my house.

This does not prove anything. It’s just my limited observation – I’m talking about four or five unaltered dogs total compared to about 50 altered dogs. I also know a few owners who have unaltered dogs, and they say they have absolutely no issues with their dogs marking in the house.

I’m sure it mostly depends on the amount of training the owner is willing to put into the dog, regardless of whether or not the dog has been “fixed.”

What are your thoughts?

I hope you’ll jump in and share your experience.

*Can I just add that my dog did not lift his leg once for the first two years I had him? Not once. He was a squatter. He started lifting his leg when he was about 3 or 4.

Get That Mutt’s newsletter in your inbox:

Pin It

11 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Julia at Home on 129 Acres on February 6, 2014

    The first time I took my neutered male dog to my friend’s house, he marked a plant that was sitting in a corner in the house. I had the same reaction as you. We had had absolutely no issues with him at our house, so it was very unexpected.

    Our guy is a big marker. Living in the country, it’s not a big deal for him to pee wherever he wants. However, when we take him to more civilized locales, the marking is sometimes a challenge in that walks take a very long time or at the ball diamond he’ll pee on the dugout fence… with people’s bags and shoes on the other side. Is it just a matter of training him not to pee on fences or benches, like you’re doing with Ace do you think?

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 6, 2014

      Yes, that’s probably what I would do.

      Glad I’m not the only one whose dog peed on an indoor plant! Haha! It’s funny when it’s not my dog.

  2. Kimberly Gauthier on February 7, 2014

    We haven’t had this experience, thank heavens, but it’s good to know anyway, because I would honestly be lost.

    I believe in spaying and neutering our dogs, because we live in a rural area with no fencing and I worry about other dogs having access to ours and I worry about roaming. Our dogs have their own fenced yard, but that gets boring for them so we try to allow them as much supervised time on our property (and out of their yard) as possible.

    I’ve read so many things pro and against spay/neuter, when it should be done, etc – I think 6 months is the magic point for our dogs, because our veterinarians recommend it and I trust them so much and Rodrigo and Sydney have been great (altered at 6 months).

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 7, 2014

      I know, it’s hard to know what to do with all the pros and cons about spaying and neutering. Sounds like you’re making the best choice for your dogs, which is what everyone should do.

  3. jan on February 7, 2014

    The only problem I’ve had is the first time my dad visited us for a two week stay. Two alpha males in the house and Timmy the stud muffin started to mark the door of my dad’s room when he was sure my dad would see him. Fortunately my dad is not the sort of male who would challenge the dominance of a 10 pound Poodle and they soon became best buds.

  4. Rebekah on February 8, 2014

    Yep, I am way too familiar with this…

    I could have used your tips three years ago when we adopted Bruce. and a year and a half ago when we adopted Faolan…

  5. AuntSue on February 9, 2014

    We were at a Greyhound shelter to pick out a greyt dog. Unfortunately I was wearing a long brown skirt. One of the males thought I was a tree! Nope, didn’t adopt that one.
    My little Italian greyhound marked my daughter’s new stove everytime we were there. Go figure.

  6. Linda - Alfie's Blog on February 10, 2014

    Guess I’m lucky but our Alfie seems to understand the general ‘no peeing indoors’ rule quite well. With one exception – we had a friend’s dog over for the day and both dogs were happily chewing their bones – when Alfie’s friend was done and got up, Alfie quickly walked over to his spot on the floor and peed! :-)

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?