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If your dog pees on anything new, you are likely wondering what's going on in his mind.

Whether your dog pees on your guests' suitcase, on your new furniture, or on the new pillow you have placed on couch, one thing is for sure: your dog doesn't like novelty.

This is not surprising after all. Many dogs don't like changes in their environments. They love to stick to their routines, and thrive when everything remains the same. 

Unpredictable changes, and the addition of even novelties, turn their lives topsy-turvy, messing up their schedules and putting a dent into their reassuring sense of normalcy. 

There is Marking and Marking

Dogs may urine mark for several reasons, and therefore, not all urine marking is created equally!

There is hormonal marking, social marking, territorial marking and anxiety marking. 

Hormonal urine marking takes place in response to hormones, and typically takes place in intact female and male dogs. 

Spaying and neutering should resolve any hormonally-induced marking. 

Social marking is just a dog's way of purposely leaving urine (often on vertical items) so to leave their "pee-mail." Other dogs then sniff these areas and find more about the dogs frequenting the area. 

Territorial marking, consists of the strategic deposit of urine within a dog's perceived territory. It's sort of like erecting a "fence" to let other dogs that the area is occupied. 

Anxiety marking takes place when dogs feel anxious about something.

Anxiety Urine Marking

As mentioned, dogs may also mark when they are feeling anxious. It can be in response to some scary sights or sounds, or upon being left alone (separation anxiety). 

And then you have dogs who will pee on anything that is new. This is a way for the dog to turn new scents into something familiar. 

The deposit of this calming scent is probably akin to somebody placing a painting or family photos in a room, explains board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Julia Albright in an article for DVM360.

How to Stop a Dog From Peeing on New Things

To stop a dog from peeing on new things, the solution is rather easy: remove access to these novelties. 

For instance, in the case of a dog who urine marks grocery bags, you would place these out of reach, rather than leaving them on the floor, points out board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Meredith Stepita.

If the object is large, such as a piece of furniture, it may help to keep it in a separate area, for a certain amount of time, until it has lost its new smell.

Alternatively, you can try to place some barriers in front of it (like some chairs or an extendible per gate) so that the dog cannot directly access it. 

Avoid Getting Upset

If you catch your dog urine marking something new, your instinct may be to punish your dog. 

As frustrating as this is, getting angry and frustrated with your dog will cause more problems down the road. Getting upset with your dog will make your dog's anxiety worse, warns Dr. Stepita

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Where is the Stop on a Dog's Head?

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Instead, as soon as you notice your dog urine marking, quickly redirect him by calling him to join you towards the door so you can both go outside. 

Once out, let him pee and praise lavishly and generously reward outdoor elimination.  

Use the Right Products 

Make sure to clean up soiled areas thoroughly using an enzyme-based cleaner such as Nature's Miracle or Anti-Icky-Poo. 

Using a blacklight can also help detect any areas you may have missed cleaning up. Any urine residues will glow under the black light allowing you clean these area up properly. 

Try a Pheromone Spray

Some dog owners rightly wonder if removing all traces of urine may prompt the dog to soon mark again, since the familiar scent fades with time. 

This may prompt some dog owners to go dab around some of their dog's urine on anything new in hopes of preventing further urine marking.

There is fortunately  an alternative solution that is less "gross," and that is, spraying anything new with a pheromone-based spray such as Adaptil Spray by Ceva. 

This allows you to potentially “pre-mark” the area for the dog, explains Dr. Albright. 

Pheromone-based sprays emit the synthetic form of Dog Appeasing Pheromones, special pheromones released by mother dogs when nursing their puppies.

These pheromones exert a calming and reassuring effect on dogs of all ages helping them feel relaxed in challenging situations such as when dealing with unknown environments or when encountering novel stimuli or experiences.

Change Your Dog's Emotional Response 

If your dog pees on a piece of your guests' luggage, you may want your dog to feel better about him. This can be done through desensitization and counterconditioning. 

This may involve feeding your dog treats every time he sees your guest from a distance, aiming for a nice conditioned emotional response. 

Use Calming Aids 

Some difficult cases, may require some extra help. There are many calming aids nowadays available over the counter such as DAP diffusers and sprays. 

There are also over-the counter supplements such as those containing L-theanine. 

Some challenging cases may benefit from prescription medications that can lower a dog's anxiety.

Can the Dog Be Urinating Rather than Marking?

In general, a larger volume of urine is suggestive of a dog urinating due to the physiological need to empty the bladder. 

Urine marking instead, is often characterized by the dog sniffing the area and then depositing a small amount of urine. 

If this behavior is out of character for your dog, it would be best to give him or her the benefit of doubt, considering that dogs who are suffering from urinary tract infections may also pee frequently and in small amounts. 

References:

  • DVM360:Why is our dog urinating on our new cabinet? Julia Albright, MA, DVM, DACVB
  • UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, Clinical Animal Behavior Services: Urinary Marking in Dogs 
  • Patterns of Scent Marking with Urine and Faeces Amongst Carnivore Communities DAVID W. MACDONALD Zoology Department, University of Oxford, UK
  • Clinician's Brief: Urine Marking in Dogs
  • Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB

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