How to stop indoor marking behaviors in dogs

Supervise and separate

A dog marks for several reasons. When a dog starts marking indoors, it is not only a cause for frustration, but can cause health problems to the humans. If there is more than one dog in the household the reason could be competition, sexual frustration, or boredom. If the dog is a lone marker it is always boredom, lack of supervision and may continue if areas have not been thoroughly cleaned afterwards with a product to break down the proteins in the urine.

Marking is intentional behavior and no amount of yelling, punishment or wishing it will just go away will change the behavior. The first step is to supervise and if there is a multi-dog household, to separate.


Step 1

Clean urine thoroughly

Marking requires a thorough cleaning first and foremost with products that breakdown the proteins in urine so the smell is eliminated. The urge to mark will not be as strong, if smells disappear. Products to accomplish the task are:

1 — The "Simple Solution" Urine Destroyer

2 — A heavy duty product used in kennels called C.I.A. Odor Eliminator

3 — A household product called Quick n Brite

Popular television shows on dog training like Animal Planet’s "It’s Me or the Dog" with trainer Victoria Stilwell, show using a blacklight to highlight urine spots. There may be spots invisible to the human eye.

Black light products are:

1 — The Stink-finder Light

2 — A six-inch Hand-held Urine Detector

3 — An LED Blacklight

Once cleaning is completed, supervision and separation starts.

Step 2


If real estate is all about location, location, location, then managing and preventing marking behavior is all about supervision, supervision, supervision.

Take the dog(s) outdoors every hour on the hour up to bedtime the first day. Have a "markfest". Let the dog mark to their heart’s content outdoors and reward with praise and treats. When the dog is not being supervised, they must be confined to a small space such as a crate, or on a bed or mat in an x-pen (a small fence like pen that attaches end to end in a circular pattern), or behind a baby gate in a laundry room.

First day keep dog near you by attaching a leash to your body.If the dog does not lift leg at any time during this one day period, then go on to next step.

Second through fourth days attach leash and let dog drag it. This step involves three full days of zero marking. Outdoor time from every one hour to every two, then three hours up to bedtime.

  • Reduce water intake Small dogs should have a shot glass of water with an ice cube. Medium and large dogs a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup with ice. Put the water down three times per day.

Once drag line comes off, take short periods to train out-of-sight while you monitor whether dog tries to mark or not. At any time if marking is attempted go backwards in steps until reliability is achieved.

Step 3


Separate multiple dogs. These dogs are competing, marking out of boredom and stress. Supervise as in step two and rotate dogs. Multiple dogs means that after one dog has become reliable, then pair two dogs at a time with drag leads. As they become reliable remove the leads and monitor.

Let the dogs have many "markfests" outdoors throughout the day. This requires patience, consistency and flawless supervision. A mistake means moving forward too quickly or not completing one of the processes thoroughly. Even not cleaning properly could cause more marking. Go backwards until the dogs have proven reliablity.

Multiple dogs can take many weeks to re-train. Consistency and supervision are key to making those changes and well worth the effort.

Things Needed
✯ Urine cleaning products
✯ Black light urine detectors
✯ Six-foot lead or longer
✯ Ice cubes
✯ Confinement spaces — crate, baby gates and/or x-pens

Tips & Warnings
✯ Identify and clean all urine spots detected through a black light
✯ Multiple dogs will require rotation of re-training
✯ Cut back water intake to only amounts the dog needs and put in slow melting ice cubes
✯ Take dog(s) out several times a day for "markfests" and reward highly


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