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Urine Marking in Dogs

Other Types of Urination Problems to Rule Out

Submissive/Excitement Urination

Your dog might have a submissive or excitement urination problem if he only urinates during greetings, play, physical contact, scolding or punishment. If this is the case, you might notice him displaying submissive postures during interactions. He might cringe or cower, roll over on his belly, duck his head, avert his eyes, flatten his ears or all of the above. For more information about submissive or excitement urination, please see our article, Submissive Urination.

Lack of House Training

If a dog has always soiled in the home, has lived outside or in a kennel, or has an unknown history, it’s likely that she simply has never been house trained. To learn more about house training problems and how to solve them, please see our article, House Training Your Adult Dog.

Separation Anxiety

If your dog only soils when left alone in your home, even for short periods of time, she may have separation anxiety. If this is the case, you may notice that she appears nervous or upset right before you leave her by herself or after you’ve left (if you can observe her while she’s alone).For more information about separation anxiety, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.

What to Do About Urine Marking

Urine marking is a normal form of communication among dogs. Dogs are drawn to urine marks left by other dogs and are apparently able to get information by sniffing the urine, such as the identity, the sex and the reproductive status (whether a dog is neutered or spayed) of the marker. Males are more likely than females to urine mark, and reproductively intact males are more likely to mark than neutered males, especially in the presence of females or rival males. Reproductively intact females will mark, especially prior to coming into and during estrous (before and while they’re in heat) to advertise their availability. However, even spayed females sometimes urine mark. A study of urine marking in dogs revealed that 10 percent of the dogs who urine marked started the behavior at 3 months of age, 20 percent by 6 months, 40 percent by 12 months, 70 percent by 1½ years, and 90 percent before 2 years.

Both male and female dogs usually lift a rear leg to urine mark. Females can also do a handstand to raise both rear legs! A dog engaging in urine marking behavior typically deposits only a small amount of urine. Dogs of either sex often engage in “overmarking”—urinating in the same spots where other dogs have already urinated. In many canid species, more dominant individuals overmark the urine deposits of more subordinate individuals. Many dogs will only overmark the urine of other animals or people. Other dogs will mark a few specific areas or things, such as prominent vertical objects, new objects, or areas around exit doors or windows. Some dogs seem to mark indiscriminately.

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