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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

How 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.

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.

5. 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.

Ace on a bench

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.

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