At What Age Do Puppies Start Marking Their Territory?

Peeing and marking are two different things.
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Smelling a bit of pee in the house doesn't necessarily mean your normally well potty-trained puppy has had an accident. The distinctive ammonia odor of urine wafting from a vertical surface, such as a wall or furniture, indicates an intentional marking as opposed to accidental leakage.


Despite thoughts to the contrary, dogs do not spray their urine around just because they're miffed at you for not handing over the treats more often. Marking is a combination of laying claim on things and helping the dog feel more comfortable, and both genders can leave this smelly calling card. A pooch will typically spray a spot to tell other dogs that this area is off-limits and already has a High Lord and Master. These marked areas also give the dog a sense of safety and feeling of calm -- if he is surrounded by his own personal scent, it means a safe place.

Transitioning From Puppy to Adult

Spraying and marking behaviors typically begin when your “Let's play, I love everything!” puppy transitions to a “That's MINE, respect my authority!” adult dog. While the age of maturity varies depending on the breed, many dogs can start developing this need to mark from as young as 3 months old. Sexual maturity typically spurs an urge to mark in an attempt to attract a mate, which can occur at around 6 months old.

Common Triggers

While some dogs just seem to like to lay claim to everything they can lift their leg against without provocation, certain triggers can start this marking habit in other pooches. The introduction of something new in the house can make your dog uncomfortable, sending him spraying in an attempt to reassert his dominance. New family members or pets are especially prone to trigger this behavior, but a new piece of furniture can spur a spray too. Even spying a new animal outside the house can send your dog into a “must mark my territory” frenzy.

How to Stop It

Since some aspects of spraying are attached to sexuality and the hormones associated with it, getting your pooch spayed or neutered early can eliminate this behavior before it starts. If a new person or pet is coming into your home, take the time to introduce your dog and let them spend time together. This helps your dog know that the newcomer is not a threat to his position as “top dog” in the house. Correct your pup when you catch him in the act, and redirect his attention to something more appropriate. You may have to limit his access to certain areas if he simply cannot keep his leg down.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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