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. 

Sources:

Breed of the Month: Great Pyrenees

Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Description: This dog has a medium sized, wedge shaped head with a slightly rounded crown. The eyes are dark brown and almond shaped. The body is slightly longer than it is tall. The V shaped ears are held close to the head. It’s double coat has a dense under coat and a coarse outer coat. The Great Pyrenees has a white coat with patches of cream, tan, and badger (grey). The tail is feathered and can be carried over the back or down. Fur around the neck grows longer to form a mane. One notable feature is that it possesses  a single set of dew claws on the rear legs with double dew claws on the front legs.

History: The ancestors of the modern Great Pyrenees have been discovered in Asia Minor during the Bronze Age (1800 – 1000 B.C.E.). The predecessors of the Great Pyrenees eventually made its way into Europe by sea with the Phoenician traders and also by traversing the mountains where the dogs traveled with the Aryans. Traveling along the way through the mountains, the ancestors of the Great Pyrenees developed kin in isolated pockets, forming closely related breeds like the Maremma Sheepdog, the Hungarian Kuvasz, Akbash dog of Turkey, and the Polish Tatra.

Known as the Great Pyrenees in America, it is also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog in the United Kingdom, and Le Chien de Montagne des Pyrenees in France. The dog received its name from the area where it was developed; the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain. Here it was used at a livestock guardian, known for its agility guarding sheep on steep mountain slopes.

Around 1407 the Great Pyrenees were discovered to be excellent guard dogs and used to patrol the Chateau of Lourdes. In 1675 they were adopted as the royal dog of France by Louis Dauphine XIV, making the Great Pyrenees highly favored by French nobility.

In the 1920’s, the breed was nearly wiped out in its native France. Monsieur Senac Lagrange formed the Reunion des Amateurs des Chien de Pyreneans which set the breed standard and brought the Great Pyrenees back from the brink of extinction.

The Great Pyrenees was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in February of 1933.

In recent years, the Great Pyrenees has seen a sudden drop in its number of registrations from the American Kennel Club, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the dogs popularity in the United States. In 2000 the Great Pyrenees was ranked the 45th most popular dog registered and dropped to 71st by 2010. Other similar large breeds like the St. Bernard and the Newfoundland seem to have maintained their breed popularity within the AKC better than the Great Pyrenees.

Size: Males: 27–32 inches at the withers, weighing 110–120 pounds. Females: 25–29 inches at the withers, weighing 80–90 pounds.

Temperament: Understanding the history of the Great Pyrenees and its use as dog that guarded flocks of sheep explains a lot of its modern characteristics. This dog is very protective of its pack family, is loyal, and gentle with children, and friendly towards cats. As the Great Pyrenees was bred to make snap decisions on which animals were friends and which were foes, this dog has a inborn quality of being wary of strangers and other dogs.

The Great Pyrenees is typically active in the winter and more lazy during summer when its hot. It also has a tendency to overheat in the summertime so this breed should be monitored during exercise to prevent heatstroke.

While this dog was bred to make decisions on its own, owners may find that it can be stubborn and difficult to train. The Great Pyrenees are also known to be excessive chewers and have been guilty of property damage as they may not be able to distinguish the difference between its toys and some of its owners belongings.

Being large and having a lot of energy makes this dog incompatible with apartment life. It is best suited for an environment where it can run and romp around; preferably a farm or large house with a large fenced yard. Fenced yards are preferable for this breed due to its nature to wander and explore it borders.

Great Pyrenees are said to be nocturnal, or as least more active at night, and will bark in the middle of the night. Some neighbors of Great Pyrenees may become annoyed due to the excessive alarm barking when visitors get too close to this dogs perceived territory.

While the Great Pyrenees isn’t for everyone, if this dog has enough space, if it is sufficiently exercised, and is well taken care of, this dog will be a loyal and wonderful companion to the right family.

Grooming: The Great Pyrenees has a weather resistant double coat which requires frequent grooming. This dog should be brushed anywhere from every other day to twice a week. Pyrenees shed throughout the year but, once a year, shed heavily. They should be bathed only when necessary to not strip the coat of its natural oils.

Health: Like other large breeds, the Great Pyrenees is prone to bloat and hip dysplasia. It may be more susceptible to dislocated knee caps, also known as patellar luxation. The Great Pyrenees are also prone to bone cancer, also known as osteosarcoma. Due to its thick double coat, it is susceptible to heat stroke and heat exhaustion in the warmer months.

Exercise: The Great Pyrenees is relatively inactive indoors but they need a daily brisk pack walk. As previously mentioned, this dog can experience heat exhaustion or heat stroke if exercised too vigorously in warm weather. Finding a balance of enough exercise and enough rest can prove to be difficult as Pyrenees tend to act out when they have pent up energy.

Lifespan: About 10 to 12 years.

Trivia: The Great Pyrenees is closely related to St. Bernard and Newfoundland.

A Great Pyrenees appeared in the 2004 film, Finding Neverland.

Breed of the Month: Labrador Retriever

Description: There are two different types of Labradors; the English Labrador and the American Labrador. While they have their differences, the AKC doesn’t recognize them as two different breeds. The Labrador comes in three different colors, black, chocolate, and yellow. There also exists a silver Labrador but some purists do not consider this to be a forth color variation in the Labrador, rather a variation of the chocolate Labrador.

Their body is slightly longer than it is tall. On the broad skull sits the medium sized ears which hang down in a pennant shape. The Labrador has a thick and long otter tail that acts as a rudder when the dog is swimming. Eyes are brown or black in the black and yellow Labradors and brown, hazel, or green in chocolate Labradors. The nose is black in yellow and black labs and brown in chocolate labs.

History: The ancestors of the modern Labrador Retriever actually came from Newfoundland, not Labrador, in Canada, as the name implies, although some historians believe the dog actually originated in Portugal. It is believed that various small water dogs were bred with the Newfoundland which led to the breed St. Johns Water dog; the predecessor to the modern Labrador Retriever.

The St. Johns water dog was a water dog that was used to pull in fishing lines and hunt during the work day and loved spending time playing with it owners and the children in the evening, common traits in todays Labrador.

In the 1880’s the introduction of sheep ranching along with heavy taxes and licensing fees on male dogs started the decline of the breed. Also in 1895 Britain banned the import of dogs, which also effected the numbers of the breed. The St. Johns Water dog eventually became extinct around 1930.

It is said that in 1830 the Earl of Malmesbury saw a St. Johns Water dog working on a ship in Newfoundland and made arrangements to have several of the dogs sent to his estate in England. The Earl of Malmesbury bred these dogs to become excellent duck hunting dogs. Along with the 5th and 6th Dukes of Buccleuch, the Earl of Malmesbury was instrumental in the development of the modern Labrador Retriever.

In 1903 the Labrador Retriever was recognized by the English Kennel Club and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917.

Size: Males: 22–24 inches at the withers, weighing 60-75 pounds. Females: 21–23 inches at the withers, weighing 55–70 pounds. Some males can grow to be 100 pounds or more.

Temperament: In my opinion, the Labrador is a great, well rounded dog that is good at many things. Its an exceptional waterfowl retrieving dog, easy to train, can excel in agility competitions, is patient and loving of children and other animals, and is very submissive and loyal. The Labrador is an excellent family dog which is eager to please and loves showing affection.

While English Labradors mature sooner than American Labradors, Labradors will start losing some of that excessive puppy-like energy around the age of three.

Since this breed is very obedient, even tempered, and easy to train, Labrador Retrievers are popular service animals. Labradors have a high intelligence and are rated the 7th smartest dog according to Stanley Coren’s ‘The Intelligence of Dogs.’

This breed makes for a good watchdog as they are known to bark at things unseen or unheard by their owners. While they will occasionally ‘alarm bark’, the Labrador isn’t known to bark excessively like other breeds. As this breed is very friendly and welcoming of most strangers, a Labrador guard dog is extremely uncommon.

Grooming: The Labrador is relatively easy to groom. This dog requires regular brushing and bathing when necessary. While some Labradors can shed a lot, they are mostly average shedders.  Most Labradors shed biannually while some shed throughout the year.

Health: One of the most common health concerns among Labradors is obesity. Labradors have a big appetite and have a propensity to eat quickly and can eat several meals, if given the chance. Owners of obese Labs often succumb to their four-legged friend’s begging and reward them with tasty treats. Labradors enjoy the exercise that they need to stay health. Always consult a veterinarian about how much you should feed your dog.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease which compromises a dogs vision. The vision of a dog with PRA eventually progresses to blindness or near blindness and can affect one or both eyes and to different degrees.

Labradors are also susceptible to hip dysplasia, bloat, and pateller luxation, which is also known as kneecap dislocation.

Lifespan: 10 to 13 or more years.

Trivia:

Famous in Fiction, Television, Movies, and Literature:

‘Marley and Me’ was a best selling novel written by John Grogen about a true-to-life-story and the thirteen years with his family and his dog Marley.

The white Labrador, Brian Griffon, is the talking family dog on the animated television sitcom, Family Guy.

Other famous Labradors:

Widgeon is Prince William’s black Labrador. Buddy and Seamus were President Bill Clinton’s Labrador Retrievers.

Breed of the Month: Maltese

Description: The Maltese has a single coat which can grow to be very long and parts evenly down the back of the dog. The coat is usually white but can come in other colors like cream and other off-white variants. This breed has a slightly rounded skull with a muzzle that tapers but not to a point. It has large black eyes and a black nose. It has pendent shaped low-set ears and short straight legs.

History: The Maltese has a rich and interesting past and its origins are thought to be traced back to 6,000 BCE from spitz type dogs of central Europe. The Maltese receives its name from the island of Malta where ancient Grecian and Roman people believed the dog originated. From the Mediterranean island, this breed was traded to all parts of the world, specifically the Middle East, Japan, Tibet, China, and the Philippines.

As the Maltese made its way across the globe, it gained popularity with many aristocrats, nobility, and monarchs. The Roman Emperor Claudius, Roman Emperor Publius, Queen Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots were all owners of Maltese dogs.

Size: Males: 8–10 inches at the withers, weighing 6-9 pounds. Females: 8–9 inches at the withers, weighing 6–9 pounds.

Temperament: The Maltese was bred to be a companion and, by nature, is friendly, lively, and eager to please. This breed is known to coexist well with cats and other dogs. If properly supervised, this dog is good with children. As the Maltese is very small, they are very fragile and can easily be harmed by children who play too rough. If not properly socialized, this dog can be snappy and can bark excessively if bored.

Grooming: The Maltese has a single coat of hair which is very soft, typically white, and which sheds minimally. Frequent brushing is required to keep the fur from matting. Some owners will give the Maltese a “puppy cut” where the dog is clipped at a length of 1 to 2 inches. Some owners who are interested in showing their Maltese will let the hair grow long.

Much like the Bichon Frise, the Maltese is likely to get ‘tear staining’ which is a brown or peach colored staining around the eyes. This can be reduced by daily washing of the hair around the eyes.

Health: While the Maltese is generally very hardy breed with few medical issues, it is very susceptible to extreme weather conditions. The Maltese has no undercoat to protect its light colored skin from the sun, so a Maltese that spends too much time in the sun is likely to sunburn. With the lack of an undercoat, this breed is also susceptible to getting very cold and should avoid extreme cold and damp weather.

The Maltese is prone to retinal atrophy which can lead to loss of vision in low light. Retinal atrophy can eventually progress to complete loss of vision in one or both eyes.

Lifespan: 15 or more years.

Trivia: Famous owners: Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, Anna Nicole Smith, Halle Berry, Ashely Tisdale, Britney Spears, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Do Hypoallergenic Dogs Actually Exist?

The short answer is, no. However, I imagine you all require some evidence to back up this claim.

First things first; what even causes a persons’ allergic reaction to dogs? Proteins contained in the saliva and urine of dogs attaches to the dead skin cells (dander) and is released into the air. When a person who is allergic to dogs breathes in that dander their body has a hypersensitive response, attacking the rather harmless substance and causing itchy eyes, a stuffy or runny nose, and sneezing.

Some people have mistakenly made a correlation between the allergenic nature of a dog and the amount of hair a dog produces; this assertion just isn’t so. In fact, hair is the same thing as fur, as both hair and fur have an identical chemical make-up. Only a linguistic difference stands between hair and fur. Fur usually refers to hair on non-human animals, and hair usually refers to fur on humans.

The American Kennel Club highlights eleven alleged hypoallergenic breeds: Bedlington Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Maltese, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Chinese Crested, Poodles, Xoloitzcuintli, Irish Water Spaniel, and Portuguese Water Dog.

In July of 2011 an article was published by the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy which compared the allergen levels of hypoallergenic dogs to non-hypoallergenic dogs.

The study by Henry Ford Hospital researchers looked at 173 households containing a single dog one month after bringing home a newborn and tested dog allergen levels in the house. Among the 173 dogs, there were 60 breeds, 11 of which were hypoallergenic breeds.

From an article by SciencyDaily.com pertaining to this study:

“Based on public web site claims of hypoallergenic breeds, dogs were classified as hypoallergenic using one of four “schemes” based on their breed for comparing allergen levels. Scheme A compared purebred hypoallergenic dogs to purebred non-hypoallergenic dogs; Scheme B compared purebred and mixed breed dogs with at least one hypoallergenic parent to purebred non-hypoallergenic dogs; Scheme C compared purebred and mixed breed dogs with at least one hypoallergenic parent to purebred and mixed breed dogs with no known hypoallergenic component; Scheme D compared only purebred dogs identified as hypoallergenic by the American Kennel Club to all other dogs.”

When comparing these four schemes, the Henry Ford researchers found no statistical difference between alleged hypoallergenic dogs and non-hypoallergenic dogs.

In summation: the amount of allergens released differs between each individual dog, regardless of breed. There are no consistent differences in amounts of allergens concerning specific breeds, including those breeds labeled by the AKC as “hypoallergenic.”

If you would like to read the study in its entirety, you can find it presented online right here.

Heat Stroke, Overexertion, and Summer Heat.

Here in the Midwest, summer seemed to arrive a little too early. While it’s now past the Fourth of July, it feels like we have received more than our fair share of excessively hot days. The only things we can do are try to stay cool and hope for milder weather.

Humans and some other mammals (other primates, seals, and camels, just to name a few) keep cool by sweating. Sweat glands release water which cools the skin and blood under the skin by means of evaporation. A human working on a dry hot day can lose up to 1/2 a gallon of water each hour. This is why it’s so important for us to keep hydrated on such hot days.

Other animals like sheep and dogs keep cool by panting. Like sweating, panting is another form of theromoregulation. When a dog pants, they are taking short quick breaths through their nose and out their mouths. These quick short breaths cause water to evaporate from the walls of the nasal passages in the cavernous sinus. The evaporated water cools venous blood which in turn, cools the warmer arterial blood heading toward the brain. As a result, the brain temperature may be 5°F–6°F cooler than the rest of the body, which is critical for survival.

When these elegant processes of thermoregulation fail to keep the body from absorbing more heat than it can dissipate, hyperthermia occurs. When hyperthermia occurs for a long period of time, heat stroke may occur. Knowing the signs of heat stroke are very important, as early detection is important for a dogs’ survival.

A hyperthermic dog may be restlessness, whine, bark, and show signs of anxiety or agitation. A dogs panting my fluctuate from excessive to nonexistent and then back again. A hyperthermic dog may also drool excessively, foam at the mouth, or have dry tacky gums.

As heat stroke progresses, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, and lack of muscle coordination may occur.

If your dog is exhibiting any combination of these symptoms contact a veterinarian immediately and get your dog to a cooler environment.

There are some things to keep in mind so that a dog doesn’t have to experience the dangers of hyperthermia. Be aware of the ambient temperature when you let your dog outside for extended periods of time. Tying your dog up outside for a long period of time isn’t recommended, in fact, it can be against the law if you live in Omaha. According to an Omaha ordinance which came into effect October 15th, 2008:

“Dogs can no longer be tied up alone outside for more than 15 minutes. However if there is an adult (19 years or older) outside with the dog, he can be tied up as long as the adult is with him.  The dog also needs to be on a long enough tie-out that he can move freely (5 times his body length) and weighs just 1/8 of his bodyweight (no big tow chains). If your dog is tethered it needs to be tethered in a manner to keep it 15 ft. from a public sidewalk. Even if your dog is in a fenced yard or outside kennel the tethering ordinance still applies. If you have a securely fenced yard or fenced run for your dog and it is not tethered, it is ok to leave him outdoors without human supervision for extended periods of time.”

While you are playing outside with your dog, it may not be easy to tell that your dog is too tired or too hot; some dogs will only stop playing when they can no longer go on. If your dog is panting, let them take a break.

Some dogs enjoy wading in a kiddie pool or running through a sprinkler to keep cool. If your dog has to be outside make sure shade is available; or better yet, keep your dogs inside when its excessively hot outside.

If you have to go out and about with your dog, keep in mind that dogs have sensitive foot pads that can get burned when a dog walks across hot asphalt, cement, or sand. Keep your dog out of parked cars, since a car can quickly get much hotter than the outside temperature. Also, offer water to you dog often. While some sources online state that you should let a dog drink as much water as they want, keep in mind that dogs probably aren’t losing at much water as they would through sweating. A dog who drinks too much water too fast can end up throwing up or even have issues with bloat.

If you have further questions about heat stroke and how to keep your dogs cool this summer, contact your veterinarian or check out some of the links below.

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1683&aid=1683

http://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/common-emergencies/e_dg_heat_stroke#.T-iXQT-AlRQ

http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/summerheathhazards/f/Heatstroke-Overexertion.htm

Diamond Pet Food Recall

Starting in May of this year, Diamond Pet Foods has issued a recall for pet food which may be contaminated with Salmonella. Not only have dogs been getting sick, but so have dog owners. Owners come into contact with contaminated food or a sick dog, then contract the salmonella.

People who are infected by salmonella will develop fever, vomiting, and diarrhea within 12 to 72 hours after infection. Symptoms typically last about a week. Infants and the elderly are susceptible to severe symptoms and may require hospitalization. Dogs infected with salmonella will experience similar symptoms of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Food Safety News has discussed the pet food recall and you can find a link to their article here.

If you purchase Diamond Pet Food you can visit their recall website to see if the food you purchase is safe for your pet.