Leg Lifting in the House

Does your male dog mark “his” territory in your house?  Are you finding mystery stains on drapes, chairs, beds or other corners?

This behavior is not a house training issue, technically.  It is a leadership and dominance issue.

Dogs that do this are often small, insecure/dominant types.  (We’d call them passive-aggressive, if they were humans!)  These dogs feel a lack of leadership in the house, and feel they have no choice but to take control, but it makes them very uncomfortable and nervous.  They then feel that a great solution is to mark everything in the house so that any possible “scary” invaders know that a really tough guy lives there!

It sounds a little bit funny, but it is a common problem, with very icky, un-funny results!  Here are several approaches to use to conquer this behavior problem:

1)  Master the Leadership Walk!  (If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes talking to me about training, or reading this blog, you aren’t surprised I wrote this as #1, are you?)  Learn more about the Leadership Walk and why is is crucial to your and your dog’s entire relationship.

2)  Practice discipline in your house.  Your dog must give people respect.  This means:  give them space.  Not only does the dog not jump on people, he does not get close enough to jump on people!  He is calm and submissive and following behind people when leaving or entering the house.  He moves off of furniture politely and quickly when asked.

3)  Neuter him!  No excuse for an un-neutered dog or un-spayed dog unless you are a very serious breeder with a long-term plan to improve your chosen breed.

4)  Supervise him.  For a few days, or a week or two – until the behavior stops – do not let him out of your sight.  If you are too distracted to watch him, crate him or tie him to you with a leash so he can’t sneak away.  My family completely broke a new dog from the shelter of a very intense house-marking problem by tying him to his owner (my seven-year-old daughter) for three or four days.  This is not convenient, but it works 100%, and increases your bond, and his “follower” mentality too.  Literally every move he makes is determined by you!

5)  Correct just before the act, or right in the middle. Rush over and say “HEY!” very indignantly and tap him firmly in the ribs or neck.  Stand tall and lean over him, letting him know in no uncertain terms that this is *your* property, and then send him away, using your voice to say “Go!” and stalk toward him, “shoo-ing” him away.

6)  When on walks, do not let him stop to lift his leg.  Just walk.  When you do take time for a “potty” stop (this is at *your* decision, most definitely not at *his*!) if he goes to lift his leg, tug him along to a place with no vertical “temptation” and teach him that he can relieve himself in a calm, non-excited/dominant manner.

Often, just doing the Leadership walking correctly, and the respectful door behaviors correctly will stop the indoor marking.  Your dog will feel calmer, and happier, knowing he doesn’t have to worry about making the house safe from “bad guys”!

One last word:  Use an enzymatic scent eliminator like Nature’s Miracle to clean, to lessen the scent trigger that draws your dog to mark that place again and again.

2 thoughts on “Leg Lifting in the House

  1. Hi,

    Great article!! I am a serious breeder of miniature dachshunds and I would love to have permission to link this article on my website. I am retired from the College of Veterinary Medicine and believe strongly in educating my new owners with good solid advice. I think you have put it nicely in this article tips for good housetraining!

    Thank you in advance! Lena


    1. I would be delighted to have a part in helping more people with housetraining! Definitely share my post wherever it you think it might help. Thanks for the kudos!


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