What is Marking?In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, marking is when an animal excretes a small amount of urine or feces on various surfaces in an attempt to “mark” his or her territory. You’ll commonly see male dogs doing this by lifting their leg, but females have also been known to mark in a squatting position, especially before or during their heat. Marking generally occurs on vertical surfaces, but you may also see horizontal areas such as your carpets or floors being affected.
Why Do Pets Mark in the First Place?As mentioned earlier, this is an instinctual behavior for animals. Essentially, they’re marking their territory because they feel that someone or something is invading their space. You may find that your pet marks whenever someone comes over or whenever they spot an outside intruder such as a squirrel or a bird. Some pets will even mark when a new baby arrives or when scary triggers like vacuums are brought out from hiding.
Rule Out Medical Issues & AnxietyBefore you can officially call it “marking,” speak with your vet to rule out any medical conditions or undiagnosed anxiety issues.
How to Fix the ProblemOnce you confirm with your vet that it’s not a medical issue or anxiety, there are a few steps you can take to prevent this behavior:
- Have your pet spayed or neutered. Females are much more likely to mark around their heat. Males who have not been neutered tend to mark more often too.
- Avoid using commercial stain removers. Traditional stain removers are loaded with strange fragrances that can attract your pet right back to re-marking the affected area. Use fragrance-free, pet-specific cleaners so your pet isn’t tempted back to the scene of the crime.
- Keep triggers out of reach. Sometimes the smell from someone’s bag is enough to provoke a mark. To be safe, keep any trigger items, such as a guest’s belongings, out of reach. This also holds true for household items. If Fido loves a certain rug in particular, it’s time to move it to a pet-free zone.
- Look for pre-marking signs. Pets will usually give a sign such as excessive, rapid sniffing or lifting their leg before they mark. If you can catch this behavior you can stop the marking before it happens. A loud clap or another attention-grabbing noise should do the trick.