Urine Marking in Dogs
Treatment for Anxiety-Induced Urine Marking
A small number of dogs urine mark when distressed or anxious. Typically, this kind of marking is prompted by some perceived threat, such as an unfamiliar person or dog in the home, or the introduction of something new, such as a pet, a baby, new furniture, suitcases, grocery bags, etc. Other events and situations that cause stress and trigger urine marking include the absence of a family member, whether human or animal, or conflict between pets or family members within the home. If a dog’s urine marking is caused by conflict, he might mark unusual objects, such as beds and clothing—items that smell strongly of a person or another pet.
To reduce your dog’s anxiety-induced marking, try the following suggestions:
- Restrict your dog’s access to things that he’s likely to mark.
- Try to resolve conflicts between family pets. If one of your pets is new, you can reintroduce him to your other animals by following the instructions found in our article, Introducing Your Dog to a New Dog, Introducing Your Dog to a New Cat and Introducing Your Cat to a New Dog. If your pets have lived together for some time and are now not getting along, please consult a qualified professional for help, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior (Dip ACVB), or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) with specialized training and experience treating this kind of problem. Please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate one of these professionals in your area.
- If a new resident has joined your household, try to resolve conflicts between your dog and the new person. Make the new person a source of things your dog really enjoys, such as food, treats, chewies, walks, play and exciting outings. If conflict continues, please consult a qualified professional for help, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior (Dip ACVB), or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) with specialized training and experience treating this kind of problem. Please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate one of these professionals in your area.
- If you have a male dog, have him wear a jock strap or bellyband (also known as a male dog wrap). You can purchase a bellyband made for dogs from a pet supply company.
- If your dog predictably marks certain objects (bags, suitcases or shoes, for example), or if he only marks in certain locations, place treats around those objects or in those areas. Your dog might start to regard objects he used to mark and places where he used to mark as sources of food rather than triggers for marking.
- Clean previously marked locations with an enzymatic cleaner, such as Nature’s Miracle® Stain and Odor Remover, to minimize smells that can attract your dog and cause him to mark again. You can find cleaners made for eliminating pet odors at most pet supply stores and some grocery stores.
- Try to make marked areas unpleasant to discourage your dog from returning. Try using double-sided sticky tape, vinyl carpet runner turned upside-down to expose the knobby surface, or other types of humane, harmless booby traps. Keep in mind, however, that your dog might simply select another place to urine mark.
- Try using a synthetic hormone diffuser (DAP™; Dog Appeasement Pheromone). In some cases, it can have a calming effect on dogs.
- Consult with your veterinarian about the use of medications to supplement behavior modification. Some medications work well to diminish anxiety in dogs, and if your dog feels less anxious, he’ll be less likely to urine mark.