House Soiling (Marking) in Dogs


What is House Soiling (Marking)?

House soiling (marking) by canines is due to a wide range of reasons. Urination and defecation without will or at random throughout the home sends a message to the owner that something is amiss. It can be something as basic as the canine was not properly house trained from puppyhood, or a more serious behavioral or health issue. House soiling (marking) by canines is treatable, but it may take a good amount of time, dedication, consistency, and patience on the part of the owner.

House soiling (marking) by canines is the act of canines urinating or defecating in the home for any number of reasons. This condition can be caused by a variety of issues that can be assessed and treated with proper methods and patience by the owner.

Symptoms of House Soiling (Marking) in Dogs

Symptoms of house soiling (marking) by canines can vary by severity. Some canines urinate and defecate in the house several times a day, while others do it when certain triggers arise. Symptoms include: 

  • Urinating in the home
  • Defecating in the home
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Possible health issues (urinary tract disorders, bladder disorders, stomach disorders)
  • Licking the genital areas
  • Overexcitement
  • Acting fearful


There are two types of canine soiling characteristics, and they are:

  • Soiling in the home due to behavioral disorders
  • Soiling in the home due to medical disorders

Causes of House Soiling (Marking) in Dogs

There are many causes and reasons for canine soiling in the home. Once taken to the veterinarian, he will be able to diagnose the issue and find the specific cause or causes. The reasons the canine may be urinating or defecating in the home include:

  • Excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Change in routine 
  • Bladder inflammation or infection
  • Urethra inflammation or infection
  • Kidney inflammation or infection
  • Improper training
  • Inconsistency of owners
  • Too much alone time indoors
  • Marking of territory
  • Excessive drinking of water
  • Medical problems
  • Painful urination
  • Incontinence
  • Parasite infection
  • Dietary issues or allergies

Diagnosis of House Soiling (Marking) in Dogs

If your canine or puppy is urinating or defecating in the home on a regular basis, it is time to make an appointment with the veterinarian. The veterinarian will do a complete exam, and run tests to check for any medical issues that may be an underlying factor causing the soiling in the home. The medical professional will conduct a blood test, urinalysis, biochemistry profile, and possibly any ultrasounds or imaging of the lower abdominal area, bladder and urethra areas, and gastrointestinal tract. The type of imaging techniques used, if any, will be due to the canine’s specific symptoms, such as if he is urinating or defecating. 

You may be asked to bring a sample of the canine’s stools into the office at your appointment, or the doctor will want to take a sample during the appointment. He may test the feces for any parasites or digestion issues that may be the cause of him defecating in the home, if he is in fact defecating rather than urinating (or doing both). Once your canine has been thoroughly examined for any health issues, the veterinarian will determine the mode of treatment. If your pet has health issues causing this “habit”, such as a kidney or bladder infection, the veterinarian will tell you the treatment plan. If your canine is not showing any signs of health issues, the veterinarian will determine that it is a behavioral issue and will discuss with you the treatment options available to help you understand the behavior and to modify the behavior.

Treatment of House Soiling (Marking) in Dogs

Treatment for Behavioral Issues

Monitor eating and drinking habits by putting your loved one on a schedule for food. Of course, keeping the water out is necessary, but once he drinks heavily be sure to take him outside about twenty minutes later, or the time period when he usually goes after drinking. 

The key is to be very observant of your canine, and take him out often (even if often seems too much!). You will want to catch him using the bathroom outside, and be sure to go out with him and praise him when he goes outside. Some owners when training their canine give a small treat each time they go. 

For behavior issues, such as anxiety, excitement urination (using the bathroom when he gets overly excited), or other issues, you may ask the medical professional what needs to be done to help your loved one. There are several behavior issues, and finding the specific cause of the behavior is important. You may also seek the guidance of a behavioral specialist or someone who is very knowledgeable in dealing with canine behavior. 

If the veterinarian has determined your canine is marking by urinating in specific places and next to upright objects, he may suggest neutering or spaying. This may help the problem, but not every time. With hormonal influences, territorial influences, new routines, or anxiety, the veterinarian will give you suggestions on how to understand and effectively address the marking instincts your canine may have.

Treatment for Medical Issues

If your canine is soiling in the home due to a medical issue, the veterinarian will begin to treat the condition. Once the canine has been treated, he should stop house soiling. If the canine had been soiling in the house for quite some time and has gotten in the “habit” of doing so, you may have to work with him for a recap on going outside to use the bathroom.

Recovery of House Soiling (Marking) in Dogs

Once you know why your canine is soiling in the home, and you have begun treatment via the many different methods and changes in lifestyle (or routines) that are available, it is important to stay consistent and very patient with your loved one. 

Any treatment that has proven successful must be continued so the canine doesn’t receive “mixed messages” and return to old habits. Understanding your canine’s reasons for soiling in the home is the key to a successful treatment and the stopping of all urinating and defecating indoors. Accidents may still occur, and when they happen, it is important to stay the course and remain consistent, and to figure out what triggered the accident to occur.

Punishing the canine for any household accidents is ineffective and will only make the situation worse by possibly emotionally damaging your companion. Stay patient, consistent, and give your canine lots of love, and he will be going outdoors to the bathroom consistently in due time.

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