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Common Potty Training Problems: Scent Marking

Scent marking is when a dog urinates to mark a territory. This really isn’t a common potty training problem because it deals more with dominance and territorial issues. A dog that displays good house training behavior can still be prone to mark their spot given the right set of circumstances. However, unwanted urine is unwanted urine. So how can you tell the difference between a potty training problem and scent marking?

If the amount of urine is smaller than usual and tends to be directed at a vertical surface it’s most likely scent marking. Who is the likely culprit? Unneutered males that are at least five to six months old are likely to scent mark. Unneutered males tend to be more territorial and that ups the likely hood of scent marking. If you have multiple dogs in the house there’s an increased chance of scent marking. Unspayed females can also mark but it’s much less common. And neutered and spayed dogs can scent mark as well but it’s relatively infrequent.

It also makes little difference how often the dog is taken out for a potty break. The scent marker tends to target new item brought into the house such as furniture or guests clothing and footwear. I know I haven’t painted a very pretty picture here but fear not dog owners. Keep in mind that for the most part dogs are eager to please and once you are able catch the behavior you can work to change it.

And I know from experience that finding urine by sight or by feeling it soak up through your sock can be frustrating. However there is no sense taking action such as rubbing their nose in it. The dog really doesn’t know they did wrong. I think one of the worst things you can do as a dog owner is adopt the ideology that you’ve brought a dog into your house and they will abide by your human rules, end of story. Never forget that yes they’re now your cute and cuddly pet but at their core they are still an animal and are capable of what we might consider unthinkable.

OK enough rant, lets get back to correcting this problem.

Unless you’re breeding your dog the first thing to do is get them spayed or neutered. Ideally this would be done at around the six month age. In so doing you may never have a problem. But if your dog has been at this marking thing for a while, they may continue to do so after being fixed because a pattern of behavior has been established. Meaning it might require some diligence on your part to nip it in the bud.

Ok, the marking has happened, what do I do next? Clean the spot. Clean the soiled area thoroughly using a non-ammonia non vinegar cleaner. Those both smell “pee like”. There is a myriad of products available for this job and the best thing to do is ask around or do some research as to what works for your particular situation. Meaning do you have carpeting or a couch to clean or hard wood flooring? Your vet can be a great source of info as well.

Because dogs tend to re-mark the same places you’ll need to redefine that space for your dog. Here are a couple of ways to do that. Feed them next to the spot, make that area a supervised play area, groom them there, place their bed next to it or by maybe hanging out there yourself.

With multiple dogs in the house the problem becomes even more challenging. Dogs are pack animals and in the pack a leader is usually established. And just like humans when there is a leader there is bound to be a rival. This is a great time to observe the interaction between the dogs. In a short time you’ll learn who the instigator is and how the dogs behave right up until the time an argument starts. There are two schools of thought at this point. One is to allow the dominant dog to remain so and to manage the others to know their place. Two is to include yourself in the pack, meaning you become the pack leader and as such you set the tone.

That’s the way we’ve done it for twenty plus years of dog ownership and it’s worked well. But really it’s up to you to discover what way works best.

Source: Internet

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