Urine-Marking Behavior

What Can You Do?

Much like the miners during the gold rush, dogs and cats are territorial animals. They "stake a claim" to a particular space, area or object. They let other people and animals know about their claim by marking it using a variety of methods at different levels of intensity. For example, a dog may bark to drive away what he perceives to be intruders in his territory. A cat may mark a valued object by rubbing her head against it. Urine marking is a more extreme form of the same behavior.

Ways to stop your pet's urinne marking behavior include:

  • Spay or neuter you pet as soon as possible. (If he has been urine-marking for along time, the pattern may already be established)
  • Resolve conflict between other animals in your home
  • Restrict you pet's access to doors and windows through which he can observe animals outside
  • Keep your cats indoors. (They will insure safety, a longer life, and less need to mark his territory)
  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly. (Don't use strong-smelling cleaners, this may cause your pet to "over mark"
  • Use a cleaner made specifically for pet stains - these generally contain agents that break down the enzymes that encourage your pet to mark the same place again.
  • Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or attractive.
  • Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach
  • If you pet is marking in response to a new resident in your home (such as a roommate or spouse), have the new resident make friends with your pet by feeding, grooming, and playing with him. If you have a new baby, make sure good things happen to your pet around the baby.

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 is being punished.

Dominance or Anxiety?

Urine-marking is usually associated with dominance behavior. Some pets, though, may mark when they feel anxious or upset. A new baby in the home brings new sounds, smells, and people, as well as changes in routine. Your pet is probably not getting as much attention as has he was used to getting. All of these changes cause him to feel anxious, which cause him to mark.