In the wild, a wild dog’s territory can extend over 30 kilometers. For our pets, this equates to a place where they have access to all their essential resources: safe sleeping, water, food, and even their toys. So it is usually limited to the home it shares with one or more people, the garden, or the neighborhood where it has its habits. Find out in this article the different ways dogs use to mark their territory between congeners.
Marking territory is an ancestral instinct
Wolves are social animals, they live in organized packs, but do not mix with individuals belonging to another group. Each package has a well-defined territory. These living and hunting areas are private areas. Anyone who goes beyond a different pack does so at his own risk! Jets of urine and excrement have proven to be the most effective means of marking the boundaries of this zone and warning nationalities of other groups of limits that cannot be transgressed.
It is from this wild behavior that the urine marking of our domestic animals comes, although now they are no longer used for this. In fact, fed by humans, dogs no longer protect a hunting territory for their safety.
A dog marks its territory with its urine
External urine marking
Pet dog urine marking is more of a communication tool than an attempt to delimit a territory. When your pooch raises his paw, it’s like he’s leaving his mark or identification card to warn his companions of his passing. Her perfume says everything about her: sex, age, emotional state, availability or not for childbirth, possible health problems, etc. Better than a social media post!
It also helps him to find himself in space: the few drops of urine deposited are real clues. Dogs live in a world of scents that allow them to establish personal geographic maps and find themselves in time. The smell emitted by urination also reflects the mood of the animal at that time. So when there is stress or fear, it becomes an alarm signal: beware, danger! Marking with urine is like writing a kind of guestbook.
This practice, which therefore consists of presenting oneself, as well as warning of one’s presence in a place and looking for it, is above all mature and whole individuals. Although it happens less often than men, women also mark their urine.
Raise the leg at home
If marking its territory is instinctive and natural for dogs, and it should not bother you when it raises its paw in the park or on the street, it is different if this behavior continues at home. To stop this, here are some ways to check:
- (re)determining a safe sleeping place to reassure an animal that is signaling through anxiety;
- limit their walking space around the house;
- alleviating potential conflicts with other family members;
- reward the dog when he marks an acceptable area and redirect him when he urinates in a forbidden area;
- clean the urine thoroughly so that it no longer smells, otherwise it does not want to cover the old smells;
- plan sterilization in some situations after discussing it with professionals in the canine world.
Excessive urine marks
Dogs start marking around puberty. If this behavior suddenly appears at another time in the dog’s life and it seems too much for you, do not confuse it with simple urine marking. It could be a physical or emotional health problem, for example stress or anxiety after a lifestyle change; or even incontinence, a kidney or urinary infection, or a pathology related to aging. In this case, it is best to consult a veterinarian first. If the disease path is ruled out, a positive behavior trainer will be able to solve this behavior problem by understanding why the dog is behaving this way, and how to help him get better.
Dogs leave behind scent trails when they scratch the ground
When scratching and digging, a dog rubs glands under its pads into the ground. It emits pheromones and the scents emitted serve as territory marking. The message is addressed to his fellow creatures and animals of other species to prevent them from coming to his land. This is why you see him scraping the ground with his hind legs after doing his business: he’s not trying to cover it up but to add his scent to this exact spot.
The anal glands of canines are used to mark their territory.
It’s all about your pooch’s back, and that’s why he loves to sniff other people! The dog has anal glands, or anal sacs, planted under the epidermis in the region of its anus. These glands are filled with a foul-smelling liquid that oozes during defecation, and when he rubs his back on the ground. Have you ever seen a loulou like this; move forward on its front legs while dragging prey on the ground? Looks great, doesn’t it? This behavior, called “sled sign”, is sometimes attributed to an animal affected by worms, but this is not the case: the one who behaves like this is undoubtedly marking his territory, if he does not suffer in anger.
The celebrations are not over yet: it often happens that the anal sacs become clogged, in this case it is advisable to clean them. If you are sure that the scratching is not related to a health problem, you can do it yourself; otherwise make an appointment with a veterinarian.
You already know how a dog marks its territory, a natural behavior that we do not see the end of: each canid covers the scents of previous companions with a few drops of urine, in turn covered in the next ones.