Common House Training Problems – Part 2 Scent Marking

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Today’s post deals with another of the most common problems surrounding the issue of house training: scent marking.

The scent marking problem is most prevalent with a dog who is male, unneutered, and at least five or six months old. Unneutered dogs are much more territorial than neutered ones so they are also more likely to practice scent marking.  If you have an unneutered dog in the house, you can pretty much expect a certain amount of scent marking. (Unspayed females also mark, but it’s less common; spayed and neutered dogs can also exhibit marking behavior, but it’s relatively infrequent)

Scent Marking

Scent Marking

Scent marking – where a dog “marks” his or her territory with urine – is technically not actually a house training problem, since it’s based on issues of dominance and territoriality rather than insufficient house training (a dog can be perfectly house trained but still mark inside the house.)

However, since the problem centers around the unwanted presence of urine in the house, it seems logical, in a way, to link this problem with house training. Since this is one of the most widespread problems among dog owners, we thought it worthwhile to include some practical advice.
Scent MarkingScent marking and lack of house training: how to differentiate between the two

Your dog’s probably scent marking, rather than genuinely relieving himself, if:

– The amount of urine produced is relatively small, and tends to be directed against vertical surfaces (walls, doors, etc)

– It makes little difference how often he’s taken outside for a toilet break

– He frequently targets items that are new to the house: new possessions, guest clothing/footwear, etc

– You live in a multi-dog household and there is conflict between two or more of the dogs

– There are other, unneutered or unspayed pets in the house

What to do about the problem?

First things first: spay or neuter your dog(s) as soon as you possibly can. If you can do this early enough – ideally, at six months of age – this often halts marking altogether; but if your dog’s been marking for a prolonged period of time, he or she may continue to do so after being spayed or neutered, since a pattern of behavior will have been established.

Clean soiled areas thoroughly. Use a non-ammonia based cleaner (because it smells just like pee) and stay away from vinegar too (it smells similar to pee.) Oxi-Clean mixed with warm water is particularly effective; there are also plenty of commercial cleaners designed specifically to lift pet stains and odors, which you can buy from pet stores and some supermarkets.

Because dogs tend to re-mark the same places, you’ll need to redefine the places that you know he’s marked to prevent repeat offending.

You can do this in a number of ways:

– Feed him next to or on top of the spot
– Play with him there
– Groom him there
– Put his bed over or next to it
– Spend time there yourself: hang out with a book or sit down and work

If there is rivalry between dogs in the household, you’ll need to take steps to resolve it. Any conflict is likely to be hierarchical in nature (a “power struggle”), which means that all you have to do to stop the tension is pay attention to which dog seems to be more dominant than the other one (which one eats first, gets the toys he/she wants, “stares down” another dog), and reinforce this position.

How to do this: feed the dominant dog first. Pet him/her first. Give him/her a toy before anyone else gets one. This makes it clear to all dogs in the house which one really is the dominant dog – and when this hierarchy’s been recognizably established, territorial/dominant behaviors like scent marking often vanish overnight.

For more information on how to successfully house train your dog (as well as a whole bunch of in-depth information on house training troubleshooting and related issues) you’ll probably want to check out The Ultimate House Training Guide.

It’s the complete dog-house-training guide. The Ultimate House Training Guide and comes highly recommended.

You can visit the The Ultimate House Training Guide site by clicking this link:
http://bit.ly/dogburg

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