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 Marking Behavior with the Pomeranian

A Pomeranian of any age may have marking problems as territorial behavior in the house. This is not a housebreaking issue, it is a behavioral issue.  

The dog is doing this, because he or she is marking their territory, not because they do not know where to eliminate or they do not understand the rules of housebreaking.

Marking is not a method of emptying the is a process of spraying out a bit of urine to mark territory.

This is more common in households that have more than 1 dog.

You will know that this is territorial marking behavior if:
  • The dog only urinates a little bit; they will not release their whole bladder...they will urinate just enough to mark the spot.
  • The dog keeps urinating in the same spot over and over (usually trying to "re-claim" an area that was cleaned by the owner), or is peeing all over the house (in an attempt to "claim" all areas)
white male Pomeranian on sofa
Casper, 6 months old
Photo courtesy of owner: Jaime Ross
  • The dog is house trained and does not eliminate feces in the home, but only urinates inside.
  • This is more common if a female is not spayed or a male is not neutered. However, even if the dog is spayed or neutered, if there is another dog in the home that is not, this can prompt this behavior.
You will want to:

1) Clean the area, but not with a strong smelling cleaner as this can trigger your dog to try and mark again to cover that scent. Use a enzyme cleaning product that will remove trace odors that you will not be able to smell, but your dog will. It is those trace odors that prompt a dog to mark an area over and over. 

2) Observe your dog's behavior to see if the presence or sight of another dog triggers marking behavior. Many dogs will spray just by seeing another dog walk by the house. If this is the case, closing curtains to block views to animals passing by may help reduce this behavior. 

3) Try to make the area in which your dog is marking into a play area. Play games with your dog there, give a treat, have them lie down and pat their tummy. Once canines consider an area their 'den' and particularly an area where food is given, they often stop marking in that area. 
10 year old small Pomeranian
Dodie,10-12 years old, (rescue)
Photo courtesy of owners: Debbie and Leon Dudley
4) Spay or neuter your pets. Dogs that are spayed or neutered are less likely to do this. Even if your Pom is spayed/neutered , another pet that is not may trigger this behavior.

5) As soon as you see your Pom get into position to do this, make a loud noise to distract your dog and then immediately bring him to his designated bathroom area. Give praise and reward if he urinates there. 

Even if you must physically pick your Pom up and he/she only finishes urinating outside, consider this a 'win' which does warrant praise and a treat. This will help build up positive reinforcement and motivation to urinate in the designated bathroom location. 

6) A dog that marks may need a remind about who - exactly - is the leader in the home. Once a Pom learns that his owner is the true leader, he/she may then back down and stop trying to claim territory.  Two good methods for reinforcing this are to always require a dog to obey the 'sit' command before any meal or snack is given and by always being the first to enter and exit the house with the dog following. 

7) Remember that punishing a dog (yelling, isolating) never works. You want your Pomeranian to respect you, not fear you.
Marking Behavior With More Than 1 Dog

Your Pom that is marking is most likely doing so, because he or she feels the need to "claim" the house. Why? Because all dogs, of any dog breed, need to know the "order of the pack".

Long ago, dogs ran in packs and there was always a leader. Now, even though they are domesticated, dogs still need to know 'Who is in the pack?'  and 'Who is the leader?' (also called the "Alpha dog"). If their human family member is the top leader, who is the leader among the dogs?

By feeding your dogs, teaching them commands, taking them for walks and all of the care that you give, you have already shown them that in the pack, it is you who is the top leader.

However, in a home with more than 1 animal, your dog that is marking, needs to know who is the leader in the sub-group of the animals.

Usually, dogs will try to figure this out among themselves. However, doing so can be very stressful for all dogs involved. This can lead to behavioral problems, such as this one. 

You can help by establishing which dog is the Alpha Dog. It is usually the older dog. However, you can take notice when the dogs are playing. Is one of them more outgoing? Is one dog more "pushy" when it comes to choosing toys? Which dog runs to their food first? Noticing this, will help you know who is trying harder to be the Alpha Dog. 

Once you know, you can then help both dogs. Remember that the dog that is not the Alpha Dog is just as important and loved as the other dog. Not being the Alpha Dog is not a negative thing. Both dogs will be less stressed and happy, knowing their place in the "pack".

When it is time to feed your dogs dinner, give the Alpha Dog their food first. When it is time to take the dogs outside for a walk, put the leash or harness on the Alpha Dog first. These small gestures help the dogs feel secure that you, the main leader, are showing them that you understand the "pack".

Once the dogs stop competing, they should stop marking. 
Note: Marking... forgetting house training... odd behavior when eliminating... these are of course just a few of the issues an owner may have with their Pomeranian. For this reason, we have created the the most comprehensive Pomeranian book that exists.NOW IN PRINT!
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