Why Dogs and Cats Mark Their Territory

DOGS AND CATS ARE TERRITORIAL ANIMALS.

Marking territory is done when pets are wanting to“stake out a claim” to a particular object and to let others know about their claim.

marking territory

Some pets may go to the extreme of urinating to mark a particular area as their own. Urine marking is not a house-soiling problem, but is a territorial behavior. To resolve the problem, you need to address the underlying reason for your pet’s need to mark his territory in this way.

Your pet may be urine marking if:

  • The problem is primarily urination. Dogs and cats rarely mark with feces.
  • The amount of urine is small and is found primarily on vertical surfaces. Leg lifting and spraying are dominant versions of urine marking.
  • Both intact males and females are more likely to urine-mark than are spayed or neutered animals. However, even spayed or neutered animals may mark in response to other intact animals in the home.
  • Your pet urinates on new objects in the environment.
  • Your pet has conflicts with other animals in your home.
  • Your pet has contact with other animals outside your home.

marking territory

What To Do:

  • Spay or neuter your pet as soon as possible. Spaying or neutering your pet may stop urine-marking altogether.
  • Resolve conflicts between or among the animals in your home.
  • Restrict your pet’s access to doors and windows through which they can observe animals outside.
  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly.
  • Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive.
  • If your pet is marking in response to a new resident in your home, have the new resident make friends with your pet by feeding, grooming and playing with them.
  • For dogs: When he begins to urinate, interrupt him with a loud noise and take him outside, then praise him and give him a treat if he urinates outside.
  • For cats: try to monitor your cat’s movements. If she even sniffs in an area she has previously marked, make a loud noise or squirt her with water.
  • Practice “nothing in life is free” with your dog. This is a safe, non-confrontational way to establish your leadership and requires your dog to work for everything he wants from you.

What Not To Do:

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

Dogs and cats don’t urinate or defecate out of spite or jealousy. If your pet urinates on your baby’s diaper bag, it’s not because he is jealous of, or dislikes your baby. The unfamiliar scents and sounds of a new baby in the house are simply causing him to reaffirm his claim on his territory.

Is it time to call in the professionals? AHS offers private dog training lessons