Q&A: How do I stop my dog from marking?

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Q: How do I keep my male Chihuahua from marking my grandaughter’s toys that she leaves on the floor?
Kathy P.

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Andrea Arden, CPDT at Andrea Arden Dog Training in New York City, writes: If your dog is marking in the home then he isn’t housetrained, by definition. This means he needs you to help him by managing his time to prevent the practice of this behavior. Here’s what you can do:

  • Just like with a puppy, keep him on leash when you are there to supervise and be sure he is occupied with engaging chew toys (some of my favs are Busy Buddy Twist n-Treats, Gimborn White Sterilized Bones, and Bob-A-Lots). You can hold the leash, step on the end, or tether him to a stable object.
  • When you can’t watch him, let him rest in a crate or an exercise pen. In either case, he is not wandering about marking.

These management tools need not be used forever. The goal is full freedom in the home with no accidents. But, just like we gradually give kids more freedom as they show the ability to handle it, so should we with our canine companions.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because your dog is an adult he should know better. He is letting you know he needs your assistance in this area of his life manners skills. The kindest thing you can do for him is to set him up for success by not giving him opportunities to practice unwanted marking.

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