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How to get your pug to stop marking

There’s nothing quite as annoying as finding splashes of your pug’s pee on your couch or catching your pug mid-lift. Luckily, it’s a fairly common problem — you’re not alone! — and there are several ways to get your pup to move on from marking.

Why they do it

It’s important to make sure that your pug isn’t peeing indoors for a medical reason. Bring them to the vet and get a clean bill of health to confirm that the problem you’re dealing with really is marking. (Some common things they could be suffering from that cause peeing indoors are incontinence, a UTI, some diseases, or even some medications.)

Outside of medical issues, there’s one main reason why pugs mark: to literally “mark” their territory. We put our names on our belongings, and pugs put their scent on items they consider theirs.

That helps explain why your pug tends to mark new items, like a new couch, a box you just brought in from outside, or a step ladder that isn’t always out. Knowing these triggers will help prepare you for potential marking scenarios, so make sure you keep your eye on your pug and employ the training methods below if this happens.

There’s also a chance that the marking could be due to a change like bringing home a new pet or a baby. In these cases, make sure your pug has been properly introduced and associates the new stimuli with good things, like treats.

What you can do about it

This behavior is most common in intact male pugs and typically starts around 6 months old, so one fairly simple solution if you’re dealing with this issue is to get your pug neutered. In about 80% of dogs neutering will reduce marking behavior, and in 40% of cases it’ll eliminate it entirely. If your pup continues to mark after neutering, it’s typically because they’ve already made a habit out of the behavior.

Don’t worry, though! There are a few different training methods that you can use if your pug is neutered and you’re still dealing with them spritzing their scent everywhere.

First, you’ll want to go back to the basics: use gates to make the area that your pug has free rein of fairly small so you’re able to keep an eye on them at all times. If your pug is crate trained, you may want to put them in their crate while you can’t watch them diligently. Take them out every 1-2 hours and reward them with praise and treats when they go to the bathroom outside.

While they’re in their designated area keep them on a leash for the first couple of days. If you notice them starting to show marking behavior like sniffing, turning in position, or lifting their leg, bring them outside immediately and reward them when they do go to the bathroom. After these couple of days, let them off the leash in the designated area. After another few days with little to no marking, slowly start to expand the area where they can roam.

If you do catch them in the act, firmly say “no” or make a loud noise to distract them and immediately bring them outside to finish their business. It’s very important, however, to not punish your pug if you notice they’ve marked somewhere but don’t catch them in the act. They won’t associate the punishment with the marking and it’ll just confuse — and potentially scare — them. In either case, make sure you clean the marking up with an odor eliminator to make sure your pug isn’t tempted to go in the same location again.

This same technique can be used on a smaller scale when your pug is entering a new space. Give them a chance to explore the space while they’re on a leash to make sure they aren’t leaving their scent. They’ll be much less likely to mark once they’re familiar with the area.

While marking is a frustrating behavior to deal with, we’re confident you (and your pug) will get past it!