Small Dogs & Marking In The House

We recently received a question from a gentleman who owns three adult Chihuahua’s, two males and one female. He complained that the males mark on every vertical object in the house including the walls.


Marking can be a multi-faceted issue as to its cause and what to do about it. First of all, I have found that the smaller the dog, the quicker they mature. In male dogs which are more prolific at this behavior than females, a German Shepherd may not lift his leg for the first few years, but a toy breed will be hiking his leg around six months.


There is a difference between actual urination and marking. Urination is relieving the bladder.  Marking is a behavior and may only involve a drop or two, thus making it hard to detect until your home smells like an outhouse.


A major cause of marking getting out of control is that the owner never truly got the dog/s used to keeping their homes clean. Many folks with toy breeds opt for using potty pads with the hope that the dogs can just live happily in their huge habitat like little gerbils and dash to the pads when nature calls. When the males begin lifting their leg, they are missing the target anyway. Those little guys can out-pee any large dog in distance competition!


When there is more than one dog, the marking is usually worse as it now becomes a social activity to mark over the other guy’s territorial claims. They are a little mini pack and the owner is not a very highly regarded member of the group.


As for what to do about the problem… aside from just putting little boy dog belly band type diapers on them and calling it good, there is a process I would consider. Don’t forget that these little dogs can live about as long as a parrot so it might be worth the effort.


Work at inserting yourself into the picture as loving owner and leader. I would make their world small, not giving them the entire house. Then I would work on crate training and teaching them to go outside to potty. Each dog needs individual attention in the form of little training lessons. That means that you put the other/s away and concentrate on building a relationship with each one separately. Teach them some training skills and reward lavishly with treats and praise. It would be helpful if they weren’t free feeding. They need structure. If there was only one dog loose in the house at a time, that dog would begin to pay attention to you. Also, I would attach a little “drop cord” (thin rope or leash with no loop) on the dog when free in the house. It will teach him to be more accountable and gives you something to grab if need be. Do not be punitive over the marking but teach the dog to interrupt the urge and come running to you for a goodie.


This discussion could go on and on, so please feel free to ask more specific questions if you have them!

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