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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 134
Experience:  20 yrs as small animal vet; 30+ yrs in animal care; interests incl: breeding, skin probs, training
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my dog keeps spraying/marking everything in my house! How can

Customer Question

my dog keeps spraying/marking everything in my house! How can I stop this?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 8 years ago.
I need a little more information in order to help you.
Has he been neutered?
Do you have any other dogs? If so, what sex and are they spayed or neutered? Are there other dogs in your neighborhood?
How long have you had him? How long has he been doing this? Or is this a new behavior?
Is he just urinating or actually marking? Is he lifting his leg and going on a vertical surface, or squating and going on the ground? Does he go large amounts, or small amounts?
Does he do this when you are around, or just usually when you are not near by?
Is he loose in the house when you are gone, or confined? And if confined, where and to what size area?

Thanks for the additional info.

Dr. Z
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
He started doing this when we took him camping back in may. We were with other dogs that were female. We do have another dog but he is strictly out doors.He is lifting his leg and it's just a little spray. He never does this when any one is in the room. We have had him since he was about 2-3 months old. He is not confined while we are gone. He seems to have gotten worse lately.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 8 years ago.
Thanks for the additional info - that helps.
Again, is he neutered or intact?
And how old is he exactly (or as exactly as you know)?

Dr. Z
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
he is intact but he has one testicle that has not dropped. I took him to the vet and they said that it should be ok and not cause any problems. I believe he is 11 months but I am not exact on the date.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 8 years ago.
I don't usually like to contradict other veterinarians, but I have to disagree with your vet that the testicle that has not dropped should not cause any problems. The condition of having a retained testicle is called cryptorchidism and cryptorchid dogs are more than 10 times more likely to develop cancer than dogs who have had both testicles descend normally.
Here is another site that provides information on cryptorchidism in dogs, possible causes as well as recommended treatment:

But, that doesn't really address your problem now, does it? The timing, however, fits perfectly for this to be a behavior problem directly related to him being intact. The spraying sounds like it started when he was about 6 months old, which is consistent with the onset of puberty in small breed dogs. Additonally, he was around female dogs at that time, which would only have helped to make him more aware of his male hormones.
What you describe definitely sounds like marking behaviors, especially as it started with the onset of puberty, and seems to have gotten worse recently, which would coincide with peak testosterone production.
Rubbing his nose in it will certainly not help. First, he doesn't understand that he is doing anything wrong - he is simply following his instinctive urges. Besides, would you rub a baby's nose in his diaper, or a child in his bed, if he wets it? It makes no more sense to do it to a pet.
There are a few things I would recommend you do. First, do confine him when you are not able to watch him. Using a crate when you are not home is probably the best thing you can do. Keeping him immediately with you when you are home, as well, will limit his opportunity to mark. This also allows you to correct the behavior - since if he is always with you, he can only mark or spray when you are present. If you see him lifitng his leg, make a sharp nose to distract him - either "NO!" or shake a can of pennies, or something along those lines. If he immediately stops, then praise him. If you don't catch him in the act, there is no point in correcting or punishing him, because he won't understand WHAT he is being punished for.
Second, clean anywhere that he has marked. One of the best products I've found for this is Simple Solution. It is an enzymatic cleaner that removes nearly all trace of odor and stain. If he can't smell where he has marked before, he is less likely to go there to mark again.
Neither of these solutions alone will solve the problem in the long term. For that, you really need to get him neutered. Ordinarly, I would prefix this with the qualifier "if you weren't planning on breeding him". However, with him being a cryptorchid, it is not recommended to breed him as that is a genetic trait he will pass on to his offspring. Furthermore, as I pointed out to start with, cryptorchid males are at much greater risk of developing testicular cancer, so neutering him is truly in his own best interest, as well as yours.
Neutering him, at this point, may not entirely correct the problem, as he may have developed the habit of marking. At nearly a year old, you have a good chance that it will, but the first 2 solutions I gave you will also help in retraining him as to correct indoor behavior. I would not give him free rein of the house until he has been neutered, you have cleaned all the area he has already marked AND he has proven that he will not mark when you ARE present.
I will warn you that neutering a cryptorchid male is usually more expensive than neutering a normal male. This is because it is a more complicated and longer surgery - the veterinarian often has to explore the abdomen in order to find that retained testicle. In some cases, it is even more complicated than spaying a female. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend getting it done, for him, for you, and for your house!

I hope you found this helpful. Please let me know if you have addtional questions.

Dr. Z