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Why Does My Dog do That? Understanding Marking Behavior

November 27, 2016


Ever wonder why dogs do the things they do?  We have found that many of our pet parents are curious about the behaviors they notice their pets engaging in.  Each month we are going to address the behaviors we are most asked about in our “Why Does My Dog do That?” blog to help humans better understand their canine companions.  Our first question is about urine marking behavior.


Maybe you have noticed that your dog stops every few feet to relieve himself.  Or perhaps you have found yourself cleaning the leg of a favorite chair after Fido left a few “drops”.  This is called marking and it is a natural way your dog “communicates” in their world.  Here are a few things you need to know about marking.


  • Marking is a way of communicating a message


As much as we think of them as our “furry kids” dogs can’t, in fact, speak human.  Instead, they rely on behaviors such as urine marking as a way to communicate with us and other animals.  Think of it as doggie “pee-mail”.  Dogs have highly sensitive noses and they can learn a lot from urine marking such as gender of the dog, health, stress levels and even social status in the neighborhood.  By marking your dog is making a statement.  As an owner, it is important to understand the root cause of this behavior.  Are they simply sending a message to local doggie pals or are they feeling insecure?  Identifying the root cause allows you to address potential behavior issues before they become a larger problem.  


  • Marking Does Not Mean Your Dog Isn’t Housebroken (it is only a derail/stumbling block if turned around in time)


If your dog is marking in the house it does not mean your dog is no longer housebroken or is choosing to be a “bad” dog.  As Kristy from Smart Dogs explains it is “a dog’s way of telling everyone there is something out of balance in their home.”  It may be a new person, new animal, change of routine, illness etc.  It usually involves a very small amount of urine on a vertical surface and can occur due to a variety of triggers such as:

  • Changes in the dog’s environment

  • Overexcitement

  • Stress/Anxiety

  • Being around a female in heat (communicating availability)

  • Not spaying or neutering your dog


  • Marking Isn’t Just a “Guy Thing”


Although marking is most often associated with male dogs, female dogs will also engage in marking behavior for the same reasons.  This is especially true for intact females immediately before and during their heat cycle.  A squat is just as effective for marking as a leg lift!

Marking is a very common behavior for dogs both indoors and out.  That said, we need to teach our dog to keep this behavior under control.  For more tips on how to address urine marking visit Cesar Milan’s website Cesar’s Way .If you would like to fix your pup’s marking right away, especially indoors, Smart Dogs is here to help you develop a solid training plan.  As Kristy knows, “every dog is different” and needs individual assessment.  Give us a call today to learn more!  

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