Why Is My Potty-Trained Dog Marking Territory In My House Now?

8 12 2008

marking-territoryRecently, a reader sent me a question about his three year old Silky Terrier who is potty-trained, but he has recently been peeing in “key spots” marking his territory throughout the house. He asked for my help, and I think we have things figured out.

Believe it or not, the hardest dog “get” potty training is the Yorkshire Terrier, which is a close relative of the Silky. However, I do not believe that potty training is the issue here. I have a few questions which may lead you to your answer to the “Why?” question.

First, is your dog neutered?
Second, do you have any other dogs in the house?
If not, have other dogs been visiting your house?

Sometimes, if a dog is not “fixed”, he feels the need to “mark” territory with urine to let other dogs and animals that that spot is “his”.  Unfortunately, even if he is fixed, he may still mark his territory.  I think that your dog’s problem may be too much attitude in a little body.  Often, small male dogs have “Napoleon Syndrome.”  Deep down inside they know that they are small, but they try to make up for it by exhibiting behaviors that they believe will make them seem to be bigger.  Of course, the size of the dog never changes, but his attitude can grow as big as your house.  This seems like a situation where you will need to put your dog back in his place!

Who is the “Alpha” in your pack?  Most humans will say that they are the Alpha in the pack and they truly believe that they are.  Sometimes without realizing it, the human has let the dog gain the upper hand or paw.  You may have done so without realizing it.  If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you may be guilty.

  • Does your dog sleep in your bed?
  • Is your dog allowed on the furniture?  With you?  Or anytime he wants to?
  • Do you give your dog attention immediately when he demands it?
  • When you both go through a doorway, who goes first?

A lot of times, humans can love their dog too much.  They will elevate their dog to the same status that they are, and before you know it, your dog is controls the house.  He sleeps and sits wherever he wants, he orders attention from you whenever he feels like it, and he marks territory in the house sending a signal to you that “this” is HIS.  Clearly, he needs to be cut back down to size.  If this is the case, do the following to take back control of your house.

  • When he gets on the furniture, put him OFF the furniture, ensuring that you also tell him “OFF “as you put him on the floor.
  • Do not allow him back in the bed, and tell him OFF as you put him back on the floor.
  • When he nudges your hand for attention, tell him NO and move your hand away
  • Do not allow your dog to walk through the door first.  Put a leash on him and hold him back as you begin to walk through the door.  The “WAIT” command (which I am covering later this week) is very useful here.
  • For a while, keep a four to six foot non-retractable leash on your dog while he is in the house.  Make the dog stay in the room where you are.  Do not allow him free run of the house.   This is a privilege that he has lost, and it is a privilege he can have back once he figures out that he doesn’t make the rules, YOU DO.
  • I would also suggest that when you are away from home, put your dog in a crate or a confined area.  The message you are sending is: This is MY house and you will respect MY house or you will not be able to enjoy the comforts of MY house!
  • By leaving the leash on your dog, you are also sending him a message: I control everything in MY house, even you.
  • If there are other dogs in the house, he is telling them the same thing he has been telling you, I’m in charge here.
  • If there have been other dogs visiting, again, he is sending the same message.
  • This last thing may sound kind of silly. Do not let your dog see you when you clean up his marked spots. If he sees you or any human down on your knees cleaning his messes, what kind of message are you sending to him?

So, I guess the real question to ask in this situation, who is in charge in YOUR house?
This last thing may sound kind of silly. Do not let your dog see you when you clean up his marked spots. If he sees you or any human down on your knees cleaning his messes, what kind of message are you sending to him?

This article is a part of our Potty Training Page.

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