Ask the Pet Expert: Marks territory inside

April 07, 2013|By Kim Fernandez, For The Baltimore Sun

I have a friend who has an adorable, unneutered 2-year-old male cocker spaniel. The dog is completely housebroken but is continually marking his territory in my house. My friend has begun to put doggie diapers on him when she takes him to anyone's house. I have found that there is no scientific proof that neutering a male dog does anything concerning his behavior. What can be done to make him stop?

Actually there are several studies (University of California, Davis, ASPCA, and others) that show that neutering can reduce or eliminate marking in as many as 60 percent of male dogs. If your friend is unable to consider neutering as an option, there are still a few things you can do that may help lessen this behavior, once you've verified with a vet that there is no medical cause for the behavior.

Not bringing the dog to areas he may mark is an option, as is a belly band or doggie diaper. If he does need to come along, make sure that each area where he has marked is thoroughly cleaned with a product formulated for pet urine. You may be able to prevent future messes by keeping him away from places he has marked in the past, or he may choose a new location. If you catch him in the act, stop him and usher him outside quickly, but don't punish him after the fact (he won't be able to make the connection). Provide him an appropriate place where he is allowed to mark — a tree trunk or other easily accessed location near where he feels most tempted to make a mess — and reward him when he behaves appropriately.

Marking is frequently linked with anxiety (think of it as his need to make the place smell like his safe spots), so using a product called DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) sprayed on a bandanna or dog coat may help, as might vet-monitored anti-anxiety medication.

This week's expert is Amie Glasgow, behavior and training coordinator with the Maryland SPCA. Send your questions to

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