Is your chihuahua marking in the house? Young male dogs will love to mark their territory. But it’s not the only reason a dog marks in the house and believe it or not marking is not confined to intact males. Females and neutered males can also mark.
But, it’s unbelievably annoying and will need patience and some detective work to get to the bottom of why your chihuahua is marking.
What chihuahua marking is and isn’t!
It’s important to know the difference between chihuahua marking and full on urinating. It should be easy to see as a full bladder empty will leave a puddle. Marking is just a squirt and usually up something vertical. You will see the tell-tale yellow drips that are surprisingly hard to clean off.
Firstly, if your chihuahua is emptying his bladder in the house and he has previously been fully potty trained he might be ill and need to see the vet. Rule this out first before you take any further action.
But if he is still a young dog you may just have more work to do and need to go back to basic potty training. You can read more about potty training here.
Why Castration may not be the answer
Some owners will jump straight to castration as a cure for a chihuahua marking indoors. But this is a very drastic action to take and may not cure it. It would also need to be done at a very young age before the need to mark becomes instinct.
However, castration should only be done for medical reasons, not behaviour and not on a dog under one as he needs the testosterone for his development. Castration can also make a dog fearful as the testosterone gives him his confidence. As chihuahuas are prone to fear biting and reactive barking, taking away the testosterone you could end up with a fearful reactive dog who marks because of stress.
Why do they do it?
So, once you have established that your chihuahua is marking and not urinating what can you do? There are three main reasons why your dog may mark in the house and out on walks;
Any dog will want to mark his territory but unlike us they can’t put up fences, so they leave a chemical message instead. Other dogs will sniff and get the message of who lives here. It is likely that your chihuahua’s territory extends further than your drive.
They will also over-mark other animal smells as well as other dogs. Chihuahuas are small and will often go to some lengths to get their mark higher than other dogs, so they look larger.
This is the same as your business card. Your chihuahua marking is leaving his details in a communal space for other dogs to ‘read’. From this information another dog can tell the gender, sexual status and rank. Females in heat may mark to leave messages for male dogs about her sexual availability.
A dog’s primary sense is smell and his nose is a marvellous thing. It is important for your dog’s mental health that he gets the opportunity to have a good sniff while out on a walk. You can find out more about how amazing their noses are here.
Anxiety or stress
A dog or bitch may mark if they are feeling stress or anxiety. While there are medications, such as this CBD for pets, which can help a dog relax, certain situations can increase a dog’s anxiety. If a new person or pet is introduced into the household, your chihuahua marks to cover-up the unfamiliar smells that are bothering them. Once it smells right again, they will start to relax.
An example of this may be peeing on a new pet’s bed, peeing on a new partners bed, up a visitor’s suitcases or on a new baby’s blanket. It can be hard to spot the signs your chihuahua is stressed, read this article about stress.
How to stop your chihuahua marking
- Clean all the areas he has marked with an enzyme based cleaner. Avoid anything that has ammonia in it as this is similar in smell to urine. Use a black light to see any urine spots.
- Make sure your dog is getting plenty of potty breaks and is on a regular schedule for outside breaks. If necessary, go back to toilet training day one.
- Also make sure your chihuahua is getting enough stimulation. Young males are full of energy. Go out for regular walks if your chihuahua can cope and does not bark at other dogs. Make sure your dog is ’employed’ try scatter feeding and maybe introduce a canine sport, like scenting or agility.
- Is your chihuahua marking because of stress or anxiety over a new person in the house? This might manifest itself as your chihuahua peeing on this person’s bed or belongings.
To help your chihuahua get over this your new incomer needs to spend some time making friends with your chihuahua. They need to bond with your chi and become a provider in your chihuahuas eyes, by walking, feeding grooming and playing with them.
Also wash the place where he has marked with an enzyme based cleaner, and if it’s a bed spend some time with your chihuahua on the bed playing so it changes significance.
- A new baby could be a major stress for any dog, make sure lots of good things happen for your chihuahua around the baby. Wash any blankets that have been targeted and follow the advice from number 4.
- If you have visitors or workman in the house, lift anything that might be a target. If this is just a temporary situation then just keep your chihuahua out the way.
- Don’t bring other unknown dogs into the house without prior meetings on neutral territory and don’t allow you dog to watch other dogs out of the window. Barking out the window riles your dog up and causes stress and anxiety.
- Take care when introducing new animals into the home. Take time to introduce them to each other calmly. It may take a few days for things to settle down.
- Supervise your chihuahua and if you see him about to cock his leg then issue an interrupter noise. (not anything adversis like a horn or pot of coins.) Take him straight outside reward with food when he pees outside.
- To stop your chihuahua marking when you can’t see him, reduce his access around the house. Do this with stair gates or if necessary, tether him to you with one of those training collars for dogs. This way you will remember to take him out for potty breaks and your dog will learn what to do and what not to do in and around the house.
- Calm everything down. If your chi is anxious and overwrought he is likely to mark. Make sure he has passive calming activities like long term chews, lick matt (see below). Make sure he has a rest during the day. Active rest is as important as stimulation. Use a covered crate if he is happy in a crate, or a gate area so he can’t zoom off at the slightest call-to-action.
- Constant to-doing. What I mean by this is the constant charging around the house at the slightest noise. This running around sticking their nose into everything is exhausting and over stimulating. A dog that is tired and stressed will lift their leg and mark as part of the running around excitement process. Putting in a protocol of calmness will have a massive impact on how much your dog will mark in the house.
- Stop them rehearsing over excitement behaviours, like barking out the window, running a fence, chasing the cat which will also increase stress and anxiety. When Prince gets himself in a tizzy over something one of the first this he will do is lift his leg, so reducing the opportunities for this will make a big difference all round.
Try this: I use this on my dog and it helps with calming them down, puts them in a better headspace for learning and it has a happy affect on their poop. (I’m convinced it’s helping reduce the issues with anal glands.)
Dealing with chihuahua marking can be a real frustration, but if you can find the trigger you have a chance of sorting out the reason they’re doing it.