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Ask a Trainer Question Answered

Author: Andrea Miller | Date: December 13, 2012

Here’s the next round of answers for our Ask a Trainer feature on our website. It’s your chance to get dog training advice from the pros at AnimalSense. Stay tuned for more questions & answers, and if you have a burning dog training question, just “Ask a Trainer”!

I have always had female dogs, but I recently got my first male dog. I adopted him from the ASPCA, and I know his background. He is a good dog. I have another dog in the house, and they get along great! The problem is the dog can go outside and do his business and then come straight in and mark a spot in the house. He’s a little skiddish but with love, he is getting better, but we need to solve the marking his territory in the house. If it helps the other dog is a female, and the male in question is fixed.

Congrats on the new addition to your family! Kudos to you for adopting him from the ASPCA and being patient while you work through this undesirable behavior of marking.

Canine marking behavior is both a social and hormonally facilitated behavior.

Urine marking is utilized to delineate property boundaries, advertise the dog’s presence and reflect the individual’s social status.

Marking is most commonly seen in intact males and to a lesser degrees in intact females. However, urine marking may also be seen in neutered dogs that are experiencing inappropriate levels of anxiety regarding a situation, relationship or environment. So, the fact that you mention your dog is a little skiddish and is having an issue with marking could indicate he hasn’t quite settled into his new home yet.

There are several things you can try to eliminate this behavior:

  1. Try crate training the dog when he is unsupervised so he cannot repeatedly mark known problematic areas or objects.
  2. Keep him on a leash tethered to you when he is inside the house so that you can be alerted to behaviors that precede marking. When you see his sign (perhaps it’s circling or excessive sniffing), you can startle the dog to interrupt the marking. Make a loud noise so that he stops what he is doing and take him outside so he can urinate. The idea is to startle, not terrify. The goal is  to have the dog associate the unpleasant startle with the behavior, NOT the owner’s presence.
  3. Make sure to clean up soiled areas with a pet odor neutralizer such as Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solutions to reduce the chance that the dog will continue to mark the same area.
  4. Talk with your veterinarian about ways to reduce your dog’s anxiety.
  5. Adopt the “Nothing in Life is Free” program with your dog which means he always has to perform a positive behavior in order to get any reward, whether that be food, a toss of the ball or some attention from you. This will help you become a benevolent leader in his eyes.

For more ideas on “Nothing in Life is Free”, watch our Google+ Hangout where our trainers give real-life examples of this philosophy.


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