Why do dogs mark their territory?

I’m sure this question has crossed every dog owners’ mind at least once. I decided to do some research on this question to see if there is a clear answer or a definite solution to the problem.

Dog Territory Marking by Cocking Leg

Urine-marking

The act of marking one’s territory is a natural instinct for all dogs.  Yet this behavior is not appropriate for one that lives inside.   We all need to remember that being territorial is a natural characteristic when it comes to dogs.  Dogs don’t usually mark their territory to “spite” their owners.  It is their way of saying “this is my house”, “don’t make yourself too comfortable”, or “this is my family”.  As human beings, we can just simply write our name on an object to let others know it belongs to us.  For dogs, on the other hand, it’s not that simple.

Anxiety

When your dog becomes anxious, this can also trigger excess territorial marking. For example; a new baby, remodeling the home, packing to move, adding a new piece of furniture, or even hearing another dog bark outside the window.  Change is a factor that can cause not only humans to be anxious, but dogs as well. As pet owners, we need to reassure our pets that everything is going to be okay and they are still wanted in our lives.

Soiling

There are easy ways to distinguish between the two. When a dog is soiling inside your home, you will notice a large urine stain from them emptying their bladder.  This could be due to the lack of house training, medical concerns, or even because your dog becomes scared and loses control of his/her bowls & bladder.

If your dog is house-broken & soiling becomes an issue, you may want to re-evaluate what  is going on not only in your home, but your dog’s life. Are there changes in your dog’s life that are scaring them? For example; construction in the area which can be very loud and frightening, or maybe your dog is having medical issues that you can’t see from their outward appearance.  Since dog’s can’t talk, it is our job as their owner to be their advocate and to pay close attention to signs they give us.

Urine-marking

Territorial marking (urine-marking) is a small amount of urine, that is generally on vertical surfaces.  Most dogs will lift their leg to mark their territory.  Some owners make take this marking to heart. For example, if you bring home a new baby or even a new significant other, your dog may make their mark on the intruder’s personal items. This isn’t their way of saying “I don’t like them,” it is just a way for your pet to reassure themselves that they still have boundaries in the home.  Let’s say you go to a friend’s house and play with their dog. When you arrive home, your dog smells the new sent and may mark their territory to reassure themselves that this is their home.

Marking His Territory

If you and your family move into a new home and there was a dog prior, your dog will want to mark their territory right away. As pet owners we need to be more understanding of certain situations for our dogs.  We put them in a new home full of the previous owners sent, not to mention the old dog’s sent as well. Your dog is going to be anxious not only because they are in a new house, but also because they can smell the old dog’s scent. Please be patient with your dog.  They are decorating their new home as most home owners do; except instead of picture frames and lawn ornaments, they use a more smellier tactic.

Solutions

There are no guarantees that dogs will stop territorial-marking permanently.  Hopefully after reading this post you may have learned some new ways to assist your dog in becoming  more comfortable, re-evaluating situations at home, or even taking them in for a check-up to make sure they are healthy.

Below are some helpful sites that list products to help eliminate urine odor and tips/guides on how to clean soiled areas. 

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Breed of the Month: Jack Russell Terrier

wishbone jack russell tv show

History:  The Jack Russell Terrier originated in England during the 18th century.  Records show that the JRT was a descendent from the White terrier, which is now extinct.  A man named Reverend John Russell, who was an avid fox hunter, purchased a white and tan terrier from his local milk man.  Trump, as he was named, was Reverend Russell’s dream dog.  Trump had high stamina, was courageous, and aggressive.  These traits were looked highly upon by fox hunters.  Reverend Russell was also very proud to say that his dogs had never tasted blood.  They were known for locating fox holes, sniffing out the fox, and then chasing them so their owners could make the kill.  Other’s had heard of his breed and would ask to take his dogs out hunting.

Description:  This breed is what some may refer to as a “compact” dog.  They are pretty proportionate in size having short legs and a small chest.  Another desired trait of the JRT is flexibility. Hunting foxes can be difficult and challenging.  JRT’s can use their flexible bodies to chase their prey into or out of their holes.

Size:  Jack Russell Terriers measure in at  15-18 inches and weigh about 14-18 pounds.

Temperament: This breed is known to be very vocal, athletic, intelligent and courageous.  JRT’s were bred to hunt, therefore they require a lot of mental and physical stimulation.  These dogs can become bored very easily and cause mischief if let alone for long periods of time.

JRT’s are also stubborn and aggressive at times. Owners recommend that you start socializing this breed at a young age.  This will help their social skills & getting them used to being around strangers without becoming hostile.  If you are considering a JRT for your future family pet, they are not recommended for young children.  Even if they are socialized, this breed does not take lightly to abuse, even if it is an accident. This type of ‘abuse’ would come from younger children due to their young developing minds, and lack of understanding.

Grooming:  JRT’s can have a short or long-haired coat.  It has been said that the shorter the hair, the more your dog will shed.  It is important to brush them, but not bathe them often.  It’s recommended that you rinse them off with warm water only, and use shampoo if necessary.  Too much bathing can lead to skin irritations and more shedding. Then long-haired JRT sheds as well, but not as much as the short-haired.  Same rules apply for bathing, and they can also shed more when the seasons start to change.

Health:  JRT’s are known to be fairly healthy, living an average of 14-21 years.  Due to having such strict breeders, the bloodlines have stayed fairly clean and the percentage of incest is very low.

There are a few ailments that a pet owner should research before getting a JRT.  Not all dogs are affected, but these diseases listed below are hereditary.  I have provided links below, that can give you more information on each disease/syndrome.

  • Ataxia
  • Primary Lens Luxation
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Congenital deafness
  • Hereditary Cataracts
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease

Exercise:  This breed is a working and hunting dog.  They need exercise daily! This is very important for both the owner and their pet.  If you are not able to stimulate your JRT, they will become restless and start to act out, or may even cause destruction in your home.  If you live in an apartment or condo, please realize you will need to make lots of time to exercise your dog.

 Trivia: Due to this breed’s hard-working life style, they have been featured in many television shows and movies. Just to name a few, Wishbone, Fraiser, The Mask, & My dog Skip.

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