You mark your stuff by putting your name on it; your dog marks theirs with urine. We've covered why dogs submissively urinate, now here's how to prevent urine-marking behaviors before they happen in your house.

Before doing anything else, take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for the urine-marking behavior. If they get a clean bill of health, use the following tips to make sure they don't start marking their territory.

Spay (or neuter) first

Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. The longer a dog goes before being spayed or neutered, the more difficult it will be to train them not to mark in the house. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.

But if they have been marking for a long time, a pattern may already be established. Because it has become a learned behavior, spaying or neutering alone won't solve the problem. Use techniques for housetraining an adult dog to modify your dog's marking behavior.

Top 10 tips

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More tips

  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly with a cleaner specifically designed to eliminate urine odor. Read more about removing pet odors and stains.
  • Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive. If this isn't possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your pet. Feed, treat and play with your pet in the areas where they mark.
  • Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach. Items such as guests' belongings and new purchases should be placed in a closet or cabinet.
  • Resolve conflicts between animals in your home. If you've added a new cat or new dog to your family, follow our tip sheets to help them live in harmony.
  • Make friends. If your 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 and playing with your pet. If you have a new baby, make sure good things happen to your pet when the baby is around.
  • Watch your dog when they are indoors for signs that they are thinking about urinating and calmly take them outside. When you’re unable to watch them, put your dog in a crate (if they’re crate trained) or consider tethering your dog to you with a leash when you’re distracted (like when cooking dinner) to monitor them for signs they need to urinate.
  • If your dog is marking out of anxiety, talk to your vet about whether medications may be appropriate.
  • Consult an animal behaviorist for help with resolving the marking issues.

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What not to do

Don't punish your pet. Punishment only increases their anxiety and may cause them to hide when they need to go to the bathroom, thereby decreasing their ability to give you a cue when they need to go outside.

While it can be frustrating to come home to an accident, simply clean it up and consider what might have caused it. Do you need a dog walker midday or does your dog enjoy their crate and can this help reduce the accidents they’re having while keeping your home cleaner?