Territorial marking behaviors in dogs aren't at all exclusive to hormonally driven behaviors. In fact, both neutered and intact pooches may claim turf for a variety of reasons unrelated to breeding, such as anxiety and fear. However, male dogs that are neutered typically mark less than their fixed counterparts. If you see a male dog still marking after neuter surgery, be assured this is normal.
Deciphering territory marking
In the canine species, territory marking is 100 percent healthy, regardless of how human beings feel about the topic. When a dog sprays urine, he is doing so to claim whatever he sprays as his own, whether that's certain area of your living room, the perimeter of your yard, or every hydrant on his rounds.
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Dogs often urine-mark when they're feeling confused, uncertain or stressed out about something, such as a move to a new and bigger apartment, or the introduction of another pet. If a dog feels threatened about something, urine-spraying may be his way of trying to maintain control, expressing to the world, "this is mine." Although marking is especially common in male dogs, female dogs also often do it, too.
Do neutered dogs mark territory?
Dogs who have been neutered may still mark territory, although the behavior is significantly less prevalent in them, according to most experts. Don't make the assumption that a fixed dog won't mark his territory when the urge strikes. If a dog wants to claim something as being his, he may mark it whether he's neutered or not.
When do dogs start marking?
The Humane Society of the United States advocates neutering male dogs as puppies if you want to minimize or prevent urine-marking, as it's usually a lot tougher to curb urine-marking habits in canines who have fully developed and adopted the habit. The ASPCA advises owners to neuter their pets before reproductive maturity, which is generally around 6 months of age in dogs. You may be wondering at what age do male dogs start marking? The answer really depends on the breed, and when sexual maturity begins. Generally speaking, they can start as young as 3 months old, and up to a year old — but most often the behavior begins at around 6 months old.
By the age of one, most male dogs have either matured and start marking, or have been neutered. However, neutering does not guarantee that territorial marking will cease. In some cases, a male dog may not have started partaking in behaviors such as territory marking, and he may never start. But in other cases, even with neutering, the dog can continue marking behavior its whole life.
Tackling house soiling problems
If your dog suddenly starts urinating indoors, territorial urine-marking may not necessarily be at fault. You may be able to discern the difference just by looking. According to some experts, territorial-marking urine typically appears on vertical spaces such as doorways and walls. The amount is usually a spritz rather than a full bladder movement. If you're worried that perhaps your house-trained dog may be house-soiling rather than marking, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian. House-soiling in dogs may be associated with medical conditions such as liver disease, chronic kidney failure, and bladder infection.