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Modifying Marking Behavior

Marking behavior can be modified fairly quickly IF you make the rules the moment you take the dog home.

When introducing the dog to your house, be prepared. Follow these steps to help prevent or eliminate marking behavior from the start.

First you will need some tools, make sure you have these supplies before bringing your new dog home:

  • Spray bottle set to a good strong stream – not spray
  • Leash – 5-6 feet in length
  • Treats
  • Patience

Next, follow these steps:

  • Dogs often mark when they first come into a new place. You will keep your dog on the leash, be sure to have your spray bottle hanging on your belt and have your treats handy. Introduce the dog to each room in the house, if you see any indication that the dog is going to mark, give him a squirt from the bottle. If he walks in and is not indicating he is going to mark, praise and give a treat. Proceed through the house in this manner.
  • You will use the umbilical cord method, this means the dog will not be on his own around your house AT ALL for the first couple of days. He will be attached to you with a leash looped around your belt loop, ankle or wrist. When you are not able to do this, he is either crated or outside. It is important to devote this early time to the dog, as it will quickly help him learn the rules. If he does attempt to lift his leg, you will have your bottle handy to spray him.
  • Give him plenty of marking opportunities outside.
  • Once he has been consistently good on the leash attached to you, detach him, but let him drag the leash for a couple more days. Again, do not give him the option to "sneak off" and keep your spray bottle and treats on you. If he attempts to mark, put your foot on the leash, then spray. If he passes a previously attempted mark spot without attempting to mark, praise and treat.

Remember to be very consistent.

If you would like to work with a Wisconsin Humane Society behaviorist one-on-one regarding this behavior topic, please call 414-431-6173 or email to schedule a consultation.