Dog Marking Behavior : Case Of Golden Retriever

Dog Marking Behavior - Case Of Golden RetrieverDog Marking Behavior : Case Of Golden Retriever

Dog marking behavior is usually how your dog tells other dogs that this is his personal territory. In the wild, that’s not a problem, but in the home it’s not such a good idea.

Reasons For Dog Marking Behavior.

Marking serves as a way to claim territory, advertise mating availability, and map out the hierarchy of the pack.

It also works as a more efficient way for a dog to protect his turf than having to physically challenge every dog that approaches.

Although male dogs are more likely to exhibit dog marking behavior than females. A female dog coming into heat or during it will mark to let the guys know she’s available.

A dog with feelings of insecurity may exhibit “dog marking territory” behavior as a confidence-building exercise. He wants to let other dogs know this is his turf!

Typical Dog Marking Behavior.

When a dog marks an area, he uses a small amount of urine and usually aims for vertical surfaces, though he might occasionally mark on horizontal surfaces, too. Here are some examples of typical dog marking behavior:

  • Your Golden Retriever urinates on new objects in the home (like new furniture) and on objects that have unfamiliar smells (a shopping bag, a visitor’s purse).
  • The smell of other animals on your shoes or clothing can trigger a dog to mark his territory.
  • Two or more dogs living together in the same house who regard each other as competitors are more likely to lift a leg to show who’s boss. (We didn’t have that problem with Peaches and Ruby, pictured here with my daughter Sarah.).
  • Even neutered dogs may exhibit dog marking behavior in response to other dogs in the home who aren’t neutered.
  • When a new pet is introduced into the family, the resident dog may feel the need to establish his “top dog” position by marking. Your dog isn’t angry that you brought home a new pet, he’s just reaffirming his position in the house.
  • If your dog sees another animal through a door or window, he may feel a need to mark his territory, to tell the other critters to “Go away!”.
  • Dogs will often mark their own fence if other dogs frequently pass by the area, to tell them to “keep going!”
  • A new baby in the home brings new sounds and smells, as well as changes in routine, causing insecurity in your dog. He may begin displaying dog marking behavior even if he never did before.
  • A major change, such as moving to a new home, may prompt a dog to mark this new territory as his own.
  • Some dogs will never mark in their own house but will embarrass you by marking if you visit a friend or relative’s home. Your dog may feel less secure there and feels the need to make it more comfortable by laying down a few of his own familiar scents.
  • Dogs who suffer separation anxiety may leave their mark around the house while you’re out. They’re not doing it out of spite because you left them–they’re just feeling anxious at being left alone.
  • There’s a new mail carrier or meter reader in the neighborhood. And your dog leaves a mark at the door to tell these new guys to stay away.
  • There are loud new noises in the neighborhood, such as a building project, and your dog uses dog marking behavior around the outside of the house to protect his family from this strange new threat.

How To Stop Dog Marking Behavior

Dog Marking Behavior - Case Of Golden Retriever - 2Neutering a male dog before he reaches sexual maturity (at about six months) or spaying a female before she comes into heat (same age) is your best bet. This usually prevents the whole dog marking behavior from forming in the first place.

But if your Golden Retriever was neutered after he was sexually mature; dog marking behavior has probably become a behavioral problem that needs to be tackled.

When you’re home, watch your dog for any signs (such as sniffing and circling) that he’s getting ready to leave his mark. The moment he begins to lift his leg, make a loud noise to startle him and interrupt what he’s doing.

As he looks toward the source of the noise, tell him sternly, “No pee!” Then take him straight outside to give him a chance to finish the job, if he’s so inclined. If he goes potty, praise him wildly for doing such a great job.

Here are some other steps you can take to stop dog marking behavior:

  • Restrict your Golden Retriever dog’s access to doors and windows through which he can see other animals. Use privacy slats in the fence to keep him from looking out at passing critters.
  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly with pet odor eliminators. Remember that urine soaks through carpet to the padding, so try to clean the padding too, or replace as necessary.
  • Keep him away from previously marked areas. If that isn’t possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your Golden Retriever dog. Feed him and play with him there, and hide treats throughout the area.
  • Put new purchases and guests’ belongings in a closet or cabinet.
  • If your Golden Retriever is marking in response to a new resident in your home (such as a roommate or spouse). In this case, have the new resident make friends with your dog by feeding, grooming, and playing with him.
  • Resolve conflicts between animals in your home.
  • If you bring a new pet home, try to introduce them on neutral turf first. So your resident dog won’t feel threatened. He’ll feel less of a need to exhibit dog marking behavior if he’s at ease with the new pet.
  • If you have a new baby in the house, make sure good things happen to your dog when the baby is nearby, like treats magically appearing. Involve him in fun activities when the baby is around. This makes the baby and associated baby smells less of a threat to him.
  • Sleeping on your bed makes your dog feel like your equal. And being on any level higher than the floor can make your pooch feel like he’s “top dog,” even over people. So keep him off your bed and other furniture.
  • When you’re unable to watch him, put your dog in his crate or in a small room where he’s never marked. You can also tether him to you with a leash as you work around the house. There’s much less chance of him displaying dog marking behavior when he’s tied to you!.
  • Establish your leadership by making your dog work for everything he wants from you. Have your dog obey at least one command (such as “sit”–like Peaches and Molly are doing for me here) before you pet him, give him dinner, put on his leash, or toss him a toy.
  • Once your Golden Retriever dog understands that he’s not the leader, he’ll feel less need to mark. He can take a break–being the boss is now someone else’s job!.
  • Discourage your dog from applying his dog marking behavior to objects (fences, gates, signposts, bushes, etc.) when walking. Of course, allow him to relieve himself. But if he’s leaving his mark to stake out a larger territory, try to keep him moving instead.
  • If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, try leaving him an item of your clothing with your familiar smell on it. That should help calm his fears so he doesn’t need to repel imagined threats by marking spots in the house.
  • If you think your dog is likely to exhibit dog marking behavior in your friend’s house, don’t give him the chance. Keep him on a leash at all times.
  • To eliminate dog marking behavior in an insecure dog, it’s important to build up his confidence through socialization and obedience classes.
  • If your dog is reacting to a change in living conditions (like moving), try to keep him on his old schedule. This will help him regain a sense of normalcy.
  • If you’ve removed all the possible “triggers” for dog marking behavior and it’s still happening, try keeping a belly band on your Golden Retriever dog whenever he’s in the house. Belly bands wrap around the dog’s belly and prevent him from urinating on objects. If he marks while wearing the belly band, it will act like a diaper and hold the urine. Since most dogs don’t like wearing a wet diaper, this usually stops male dog marking pretty quickly.

What Not to Do About Dog Marking Behavior

Don’t punish your dog after the fact. Punishment administered even a minute after the event is ineffective because your dog won’t understand why he’s being punished.

Don’t rant, rave or smack your dog at any time.

Punishment will make an insecure dog even more insecure, increasing dog marking behavior.

Don’t assume your dog exhibits dog marking behavior out of spite or jealousy. It just doesn’t work that way.

If your dog urinates on your baby’s diaper bag, it’s not because he’s jealous of, or dislikes, your baby.

Instead, the unfamiliar scents and sounds of a new baby in the home are simply causing him to reaffirm his claim on his territory.

Likewise, if your Golden Retriever dog urinates on your new boyfriend’s backpack, he’s not trying to tell you to get rid of the guy. Instead, he sees this new man as an intruder. So, your dog is simply letting the intruder know that this territory belongs to him.

Good Communication Helps Eliminate Dog Marking Behavior.

Praise your Golden Retriever dog enthusiastically when he marks in an appropriate place. If you’re outside and he marks on a tree or other acceptable object or area, tell him what a good boy he is. Dogs learn quickly from positivereinforcement of their behavior.

The message you’re trying to get across to him is that dog marking behavior isn’t necessarily bad. But that marking inside the house is simply not allowed.




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