Ah, puppy dogs. The wee and sprightly creatures bring immense amounts of joy and fulfillment to their owners, but they also sometimes bring frustration, especially if they've started engaging in territorial urine-marking behaviors that are no fun to clean up. Worse still, they often start marking at an early age.
When Do Puppies Start Marking Their Territory?
Canines are, by nature, highly focused on their territory. They get possessive about "things," whether their favorite people, corners of the home, pieces of furniture or anything else. A couple of different factors can bring out the territorial sides in puppies and adult dogs -- hormone-fueled mating desires and environment. Male and female dogs alike partake in urine marking.
A young puppy's surroundings can trigger territorial urine marking behaviors. If a puppy feels that an unfamiliar dog is invading his own personal turf, it might cause him to feel so nervous, worried and frustrated that he marks. If a puppy sees something new that he's not used to, it also could bring out the territorial behavior in him, whether it's an intimidating new living room sofa or even a neighbor from down the street. Puppies generally do not urine mark until they are a minimum of 3 months old, indicates the ASPCA.
The Urge to Mate
Territorial marking that is triggered by mating urges rather than environmental circumstances begin when puppies reach sexual maturity. This usually happens when pups are anywhere from 6 months to a year in age. If a male dog sees another canine that he perceives to be an adversary on his quest for access to females, he might mark his territory. If a female dog wants to make sure all the local male dogs are aware of her heat cycle, she might just mark territorially, too.
Neutering and Spaying
Territory marking is a hormonal behavior, whether it's driven by a puppy's drive to protect his territory or his need to find a mate. Because of this, neutering and spaying usually get rid of -- or lessen -- marking behaviors. If you get your puppy fixed prior to reproductive maturity, it could decrease or perhaps even cut urine marking behaviors out permanently. If it hasn't happened before, it might stop territorial marking from ever even popping up. Speak to a veterinarian regarding your pooch and when exactly you should make the surgery appointment.
Don't assume that the patches of urine popping up around your home are necessarily signs of urine marking, especially if your puppy is younger than 3 months old. Damp spots of urine can indicate health ailments in canines, such as urinary tract infection, for example. In wee youngsters, it can also be a housebreaking problem. It takes puppies several months to become perfectly housebroken, so don't be surprised if you notice accidents in the beginning. Take your puppy to the veterinarian immediately to figure out if his "marking" isn't really marking at all.
By Naomi Millburn
The Humane Society of the United States: Urine Marking - Why Dogs Mark Their Territory
ASPCA: Urine Marking in Dogs
DogChannel.com: Dog Marking in the House
The Humane Society of the United States: Urine Marking Behavior - How to Prevent It
The Humane Society of Southern Arizona: Urine Marking Behavior in Dogs
Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA: Urine Marking
SPCA of Texas: Urine Marking by Dogs
UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine: Urine Marking in Dogs
ASPCA: How Will Neutering Change My Dog?
ASPCA: How Will Spaying Change My Dog?
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.