7 Ways to Keep Your Dog From Urine Marking


Urine marking is a very common dog behavior. When a dog urine marks, they urinate only a small amount onto a surface, often with their leg raised. This can happen on walks, at the park, and even in the comfort of your own home or another person’s home — eek! Before we can talk about how to stop your dog from urine marking, let’s talk about why they do it.

5 Reasons Why Dogs Mark

Urine marking is a way for a dog to assert dominance and say, “Mine!” Here are 5 circumstances that increase a dog’s desire to claim objects and territory:

1. Intact Marking

Dogs that are not spayed or neutered are much more assertive and more prone to urine marking than dogs who have been fixed. Spaying or neutering your dog can greatly reduce their desire to urine mark, but it may not completely stop it.

2. In Response to the Unfamiliar

Many dogs urine mark after smelling a new dog (or a new dog’s urine) in their environment, be that your yard, your home, or a street you walk down regularly. Additionally, if a new pet or person enters your home, your dog may feel the need to mark their belongings (a purse, another pet’s bed, etc.) as a way to say, “I’m in charge here!” This goes for new objects, too. If you get a new couch, a dog prone to marking might lift a leg upon its arrival.

3. In Response to Anxiety

The unfamiliar can cause anxiety, as can situations that are classically stressful, such as visits to the vet, a move, or thunderstorms. Dogs who are marking as a result of anxiety often leave more urine behind than dogs who are marking for other reasons.

4. Social Marking

A dog may mark as a result of social triggers, such as excitement, over-stimulation, or arousal caused by a dog of the opposite sex. A dog may also mark in response to social conflicts with other animals in your home, whether they are permanent housemates or visitors. Marking allows your dog to assert their dominance in unstable group situations.

5. Medical Issues

If you dog is marking or urinating indoors, make sure that it isn’t because of a medical issue such as a urinary tract infection or incontinence.

RELATED STORY: 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Dog Psychology

7 Ways to Stop Urine Marking

So how can you prevent or stop urine marking? First, take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out any medical issues. If your vet says that everything is okay, use the following tips.

1. Spay or Neuter Your Dog

As mentioned above, spaying or neutering your dog can greatly reduce their desire to mark. If you spay or neuter your dog before they learn the marking behavior, you may never have to worry about it. However if you spay or neuter your dog after they’ve already started marking, it may be more difficult to break the habit. Ask your veterinarian to recommend the best time to fix your dog.

RELATED STORY: 5 Ways Dog Neutering Makes Your Pet Healthier

2. Clean Soiled Areas or Make Them Undesirable For Marking

If a dog has already marked an area of your home or yard, they’ll probably do it again. Use a cleaner specifically designed to eliminate the smell of urine. If you can’t remove the smell, remove your dog’s access to the area or change your dog’s association with the area by feeding or playing with them there.

3. Keep Items Your Dog Wants to Mark Out of Reach

If you know that your dog is prone to marking your visitors’ shoes or purses, put those items out of reach in a closet or cabinet.

4. Resolve Conflicts

If your dog is urine marking, it’s because they feel like they need to claim territory and assert their dominance; the feeling of needing to assert dominance is often the result of conflict. Make sure that all animals are getting along and that your dog is getting getting along with all human housemates, too. If disputes seem impossible to solve, then contact a trainer for help.

5. Catch Your Dog in The Act

If you catch your dog urine marking inside the house, move or carry them outside. When they urinate outside instead, reward them with a treat or toy. Don’t punish your dog if you find the marking after the fact; your dog won’t understand and may become afraid.

6. Treat Your Dog’s Anxiety

If your dog’s urine marking seems to be related to stress or anxiety, solve that issue first, and the urine marking may subside. Common treatments for anxiety include behavior modification and medication. Read more about treating anxiety.

7. Contact a Trainer or Animal Behaviorist

In some cases, you may not be able to tackle your dog’s marking issue on your own. A trainer or animal behaviorist can help you find the source of the problem and come up with a plan for correcting the behavior.

Does your dog urine mark? Leave a comment and let us know about your dog’s behavior. And sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.


Why Do Cats Drool?


When most people think of drool, they think of dogs with jowls, like Saint Bernards and Mastiffs. But dogs aren’t the only ones who can produce excess saliva; cats sometimes drool too, and you shouldn’t ignore it when it happens.

So why do cats drool, and when is it time to see the vet? Let’s take a look.

Happy Drooling

Some cats drool when they are happy, excited, or extremely relaxed. A cat who is getting a serious rubdown from a loving owner, for example, may feel so soothed and serene that they forget to swallow! For many cats, purring and drooling go hand in hand, but you should still mention it to your veterinarian at your cat’s annual check-up. They may want to check your cat out to ensure that the drooling is not related to a larger health issue.

RELATED STORY: Is My Cat Weird? 5 Freaky Feline Behaviors

Stress-Induced Drooling

Some cats produce excess saliva in response to stress or fear. For example, many cats drool in the car, at the vet’s office, before or after receiving an injection, or in response to a bad-tasting or toxic food or medication (or in anticipation of it, if they’ve had it before). Oftentimes, stress-induced drooling will be accompanied by stress-related purring; that’s right, purring isn’t always positive. Sometimes it signals fear or discomfort.

If your cat’s drooling is related to stress or fear, it should stop when the cat’s circumstances or environment changes. However, if the drooling continues or if you notice any other symptoms, contact your veterinarian; something more serious may be going on.

RELATED STORY: Diets to Treat Cat and Dog Stress

Medical Issue-Related Drooling

A cat may also produce excess saliva and drool as a result of certain medical issues, including:

If your cat’s drooling is continuous or accompanied by any other symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

Does your cat drool? Leave us a comment and let us know, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.


5 Tips for Comforting Dogs Scared of Loud Noises

Dogs Scared of Loud Noises

For dogs scared of loud noises, summer can be a frightening season. Thunderstorms abound by day. The ‘pop-pop-pop’ of fireworks can startle us at night.

Why are dogs scared of loud noises?


All these loud and unpredictable noises may be tough for your dog to take. If the sounds of the season make your pet skittish, they are not alone — many dogs get fearful, anxious, and unsettled during fireworks, storms, and in the moments leading up to a storm’s arrival.

There are simple strategies — some done in advance, and some enacted when the storm strikes — that can help quell your dog’s fears and allow them to endure the noises with relative ease.

1. Swaddle Your Dog

For dogs scared of loud noises, some dogs may benefit from feeling snuggled in a blanket or from wearing a swaddle-like garment. One popular choice is the Thundershirt, which provides a calming pressure on your dog’s body. Or try a calming collar, which is also aimed at soothing pets in tense moments. Whatever garment you choose, putting it on as the storm approaches and your dog’s anxiety heightens can help ease your dog’s storm-related stress especially if they’re dogs scared of loud noises.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pet Emergency Preparedness

2. Have a Safe Comfort Zone in Your Home

Whether it’s a crate, your bathtub, or under the bed, your dog may already gravitate toward a safe, comforting spot in your home. If so, allow your dog that comfort during a storm’s buildup, or when the fireworks boom. Just keep in mind that this is meant to help your dog, so if your dog dislikes their crate or whines when stuck in small places, ignore this advice. Make sure to keep the crate and any room doors open so that if you pet does become uncomfortable, it’s easy for them to run and hide.

RELATED ARTICLE: A Guide to Dog Crates and Collars

3. Cover Up the Noises

Consider using a white noise machine, playing music, or going into a remote area of your home like the basement, far from outside noises, to help obscure the sounds of thunder or fireworks. Even turning on the TV or the radio can help to distract dogs scared of loud noises.

4. Distract, Distract, Distract

Just as you might look away when you’re getting a shot, distractions can help take your dog’s mind off of the loud noises. Try playing games indoors — tug of war or tossing around stuffed animals or soft balls could be all the distraction your dog needs from the storm.

5. Get Dogs Accustomed to Loud Noises

This won’t work day-of, but you can try planning ahead and slowly getting your dogs desensitized to loud noises. Try playing the sounds of thunder and firecrackers at a low volume, while providing your dog with positive reinforcement in the form of cuddles and treats. Over the course of days or weeks, gradually raise the volume slightly, being certain to stop playing the track when your dog becomes anxious. With exposure, it’s possible that your dog will become accustomed to the noise and realize that nothing scary or threatening will occur.

COMMUNITY CONVERSATION: My Dog Is Terrified During Thunderstorms. What Should I do?

Tell us: Does your dog get skittish from loud noises? Share your tips in the comments! And don’t forget that all pets can benefit from PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.



Top 3 Tips To Stop A Dog Stealing Food


When you consider dogs started out as scavengers, it’s not surprising some dogs find it hard to resist sneaking a nibble from an unoccupied dinner plate or raiding a tray of appetizers left out for guests. So it’s only natural then that people would see a dog stealing food.

However, it is annoying, and it can also be hazardous to your dog’s health if they steal food that is poisonous to dogs. Fortunately, there are ways to teach your dog to keep their paws — and tongue — off the table. Let’s take a look.

Here are our top 3 tips to stop a dog stealing food.

1. Don’t Let Your Dog Learn a Bad Habit

From the first time your dog successfully steals food from the table, they probably won’t hesitate to try it again. To prevent easy access to food, put away all leftovers, keep breads and baked goods in bins and jars, and keep foods that need to be left on the table or countertop in Tupperware containers.

In addition, don’t feed your dog scraps from the table while you’re at the table. If you do, your dog may learn that it’s okay to take food from the table. If you wish to reward your dog with a bite of dog-friendly human food, take it to their bowl instead.

RELATED STORY: Your Dog Food Questions Answered

2. Teach the “No” and “Off” Commands

The “no” command will come in handy if you catch your dog in the act of stealing. However, you shouldn’t use the “no” command or otherwise punish your dog if they’ve already eaten the stolen food; they won’t understand why you’re upset.

The “off” command is another useful command you can use if you have a small dog who jumps on tables or a large dog who counter surfs with their paws. Just remember never to “shoo” or push your dog off a table; they could get scared, fall, or injure themselves.

Pick your dog up and put them down or let them jump off if it’s safe to do so.

3. Teach Your Dog to “Lie Down” When Food is Around

When you want to teach your dog to stop stealing or begging, the “lie down” command can be a real lifesaver. When food comes out, give your dog the command, wait for them to lie down, and then offer a treat. Keep offering treats every 15-20 seconds or so, even as you eat.

After some practice, start spacing out the time between treats. In a matter of weeks your dog should learn that they are more likely to get a snack if they lie down nicely than if they poke their nose around and beg.

You can also integrate your dog’s bed or favorite blanket into this training. Ask them to lie down on their bed instead of the kitchen floor, then offer a treat.

Your dog will learn that being on their bed earns them a jackpot, and over time you should be able to move their bed to an out-of-the-way location while you’re eating dinner or entertaining. Just be sure to keep rewarding your dog for their good behavior.

RELATED STORY: How to Calm Down a Dog

A Note About Deterrents

Some trainers recommend using deterrents such as tin can pyramids, booby traps, and cookie sheets that will make loud noises or scare your dog off when they attempt to steal food.

However, these methods can sometimes do more harm than good as they may set your dog up to become anxious in the kitchen or afraid of everyday items like cans.

If you find that your dog is stubborn and doesn’t respond to the other methods suggested above, talk to a trainer and see if deterrent training is a good technique for your particular dog.

Does your dog steal food? Leave us a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.


City Dog Etiquette: 7 Rules To Follow


Living in a city is a wonderful thing, and I should know; I lived in New York City for 6 years and I’ve been soaking up sunny Los Angeles for the past 3 years. What do I love about living in a city? So many things, including the diversity, access to art and culture, amazing food, and always finding a new bookstore, coffee shop, or hidden corner to explore.

As a dog owner, I also know what it means to live in the city with a pooch. For one, I don’t have access to a fenced-in backyard, so that means that my dog Wade and I spend a lot of time pounding the pavement. Secondly, we’re surrounded by lots of people — and dogs! On our walks we are always crossing paths with new and familiar faces, and when we’re hanging out at home it’s not uncommon to hear a furry neighbor “greeting” the mailman with a bark.

While I’ve made an effort to become a responsible and courteous urban dog parent, I often see less-than-polite behavior from the people and pets around me. With that in mind I’ve put together a list of city dog etiquette rules that will make living in a metropolis with your pup safer and more pleasant for you, your dog, and your fellow residents.

Rule #1: Keep Your Dog On A Leash

Even if your dog is perfectly content to amble along behind you, you should still use a leash. It will not only keep your pal safe from traffic and prevent them from running off to investigate other dogs, playing children, or spilled trash, in many cities it’s also the law. Keep your leash to six feet in length or less.

Rule #2: Train Your Dog To Walk On A Leash

A dog who is pulling, lunging, or jumping while on a leash can be a danger to themselves, to you, and your neighbors. Train your dog to “heel” by your side so that you can walk safely and comfortably past other walkers and dogs. Other useful commands for walks? “Sit,”“stay,” “leave it,” and “come.”

RELATED STORY: 3 Ways To Be Safer Walking A Dog At Night

Rule #3: Ask Before Letting Your Dog Interact With Other Dogs

It may be tempting to let your dog approach, sniff, and say “hello,” to other dogs, but you should always ask first. The reason for this is that you never know the other dog’s situation; maybe they were recently bitten, and they are feeling a little gun shy around other dogs; maybe they are sick; maybe they are aggressive. For your dog’s safety and the other dog’s safety, always ask the other owner if it’s OK to say “hello.” This rule is true for people, as well (see Rule #6).

Rule #4: Pick Up After Your Dog

No brainer? You’d be surprised. I regularly come across abandoned dog poop on my walks, many times smack-dab in the middle of a sidewalk. This is not only inconsiderate to other walkers and frankly, a bit gross, it also poses a safety hazard to other dogs and people as diseases and parasites are often shed in dog feces. Pick up your dog’s poop, put it in a bag, knot the top, and toss it in a trashcan.

Rule #5: Make Sure Your Dog Is Allowed Where You’re Going

City-dwellers love to take their dogs everywhere — coffee shops, clothing boutiques, even restaurants, where I’ve often seen dogs posted up under tables while their owners dined. While it’s great to socialize your dog and take them out and about in the world, make sure that your dog is allowed where you’re going before you leave the house. Leaving your dog tied to a lamp post puts them at risk for being stolen or getting injured, and you should never leave your dog unattended in a car.

RELATED STORY: 5 Steps To A Safe Drive With Your Dog

Rule #6: Remember That Not Everyone Likes Dogs

If you own a dog, it might be hard to imagine that someone wouldn’t love them as much as you do. But the truth is that some people are afraid of dogs, some people are allergic to dogs, and some people just plain don’t like them. If you’re in a public space with your dog, you should remember this. Don’t allow your dog to say “hello” to strangers without first asking if it’s OK. If you’re in a crowded space, keep your dog by your side; don’t let them jump up, sniff, or otherwise bother the people around you.

Rule #7: Don’t Let Your Dog Bark Excessively

I’m always amazed when I learn that a dog who is barking excessively in a yard is doing so with their owner right inside the house. (FYI: I’ve learned this because I’ve confronted those owners before!) Living in a city means that you are probably living pretty close to your neighbors. A dog who is barking excessively is not only a public nuisance, it may also mean that the dog needs some help or attention. Dogs bark for a number of reasons, including boredom, anxiety, fear, hunger, illness… the list goes on. Train your dog not to bark, and if you ever hear a dog barking excessively, go and check-in on them. If you see that no one is home, don’t hesitate to contact your local animal control; the dog may be in trouble.

Do you live in a city? Do you have any etiquette rules to add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. Check it out at PetPlus.com


How To Stop Your Dog From Barking: 5 Tips And Tricks


Barking is a natural means of dog communication. Why and how much a dog barks, however, can depend on a number of factors.

Genetics is one of them. Some dog breeds just bark more than others. Hunting dogs, for example, were bred to bark as a way to signal a target.

Common Reasons Dogs Bark

Another reason dogs bark is to communicate physical and emotional needs. If a dog is hot, cold, thirsty, hungry, sick, or otherwise uncomfortable, they might bark as a way to say, “Hey, how about a little help over here?” In addition, if a dog is bored, anxious, excited, or understimulated, they might bark in order to request attention, or they may develop a barking habit as a way to release energy and frustrations.

And of course, a dog may bark if they are scared, threatened, or trying to warn you of danger, like if an intruder were to come onto your property or if another dog were to threaten them.

Many times, barking is conditional, meaning that it is in response to a situation and stops when the situation changes. Other times, barking can be excessive and become a real problem.

Here are some tips on how to stop your dog from barking. If you need additional help, don’t hesitate to contact a trainer or animal behaviorist.

Tip #1: Cultivate a lifestyle that will minimize barking.

The best way to stop barking is to prevent it. Create a lifestyle and environment for your dog that will reduce their likelihood of becoming anxious, bored, scared, or otherwise needy.

  • Make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise. Dogs who are understimulated or have excess energy are more likely to develop a barking habit.
  • Offer your dog a safe and comfortable place to rest. Leaving your dog in a cramped crate or a cold backyard may induce anxiety and barking.
  • Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water at all times, including when you are out of the house. You should also ensure that you are feeding your dog the correct amount of food; check with your veterinarian.
  • Socialize your dog. A well-socialized dog who is comfortable around people, other animals, and new environments is less likely to feel anxious, threatened, overexcited, or respond to stimulus with a bark.
  • If you need to be out of the house for long hours, leave stimulating toys, turn the radio on, and consider buying some dog-friendly DVDs. You may also want to hire a dog walker or sitter to offer your pup a break from the isolation, which can promote barking.
  • If your dog barks only when you leave the house, teach them that it’s no big deal. You can do this by practicing coming and going for short periods of time and gradually increasing the time that you are gone. You should also avoid making a big deal about coming and going; don’t offer long, emotional goodbyes or hellos. If you do, your dog will assign a great deal of significance to your absence and presence, which can promote separation anxiety when your dog is left alone.


Tip #2: Don’t yell at or punish your dog for barking.

A lot of barking is attention-seeking behavior, and if you yell at your dog (or acknowledge them at all, really) it shows them that hey, it worked! And hey, maybe I should do that more often! When your dog barks, try to ignore it. Avert your eyes, walk out of the room — whatever it takes. Then give your dog attention and praise when they stop barking on their own. You should also be careful about using the crate as a way to punish barking; the crate should be a safe and happy place for your dog, not one that they associate with punishment.

Tip #3: Teach the “quiet” command.

To teach your dog “quiet,” approach them when they are calm and not barking, say “quiet,” and then offer a treat. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times a day. Then, when your dog is barking, wait for them to stop, say “quiet,” and then offer a treat. Repeat this whenever your dog barks. After a couple of weeks, you can begin using the “quiet” command to instruct your dog to stop barking. Be patient, though, and put in that early work. If you try to stop barking with the “quiet” command too soon, your dog is likely to get confused and think that you are actually rewarding them for making a ruckus.

RELATED STORY: Products To Improve Your Dog Training

Tip #4: Teach the “speak” command.

Once your dog knows the “quiet” command, you can teach the “speak” command. That’s right; we’re suggesting that you teach your excessively barking dog to bark. Sound crazy? What it actually does is teach your dog when barking is appropriate (which is when the command is given by you). It also gives you another way to reinforce the “quiet” command.

To teach “speak,” wait until your dog is barking, say “speak,” and then give them a treat. Repeat this as often as necessary until your pal learns the command.

Tip #5: Talk to your veterinarian about alternative methods.

If your dog is barking due to severe anxiety, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications. You can also ask your veterinarian about herbal anti-anxiety food drops and citronella collars which release an unpleasant odor when your dog barks.

Do you have a dog who barks excessively? Tell us your story below, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.


3 Ways to Comfort a Frightened Pet During a Thunderstorm

Fear of thunderstorms is a common phobia in pets. When thunder begins to rumble and lightning strikes (or even beforehand), your pet may dive under the bed, bury their head in your lap, tremble, whine, drool, or pace. In some severe cases, a pet may even engage in destructive chewing or scratching as a way to release their anxiety.

While your pet’s jitters may seem cute or comical at times, what you’re really seeing is a scared and unhappy animal, and there’s nothing funny about that. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your pet overcome their fear of storms. We will provide some tips here, but don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian or contact a certified behaviorist if you need more help. You will find links to specialist websites at the bottom of this page.

1. Desensitize Your Pet To Storm Sounds

One way to teach your pet that storms are nothing to fear is to expose them to the sounds of storms gently and gradually. Use a CD or YouTube clip of recorded storm sounds, and play the sounds very quietly for a few seconds at a time. Reward your pet with a tasty treat while they are listening. Gradually increase the volume and duration of the recordings, always looking out for signs of anxiety, and stopping if you see that your pet is afraid. The goal is to form a positive association with storm sounds, not to exacerbate an already existing fear.

If you wish to try desensitizing your pet to storm sounds, it may be useful to contact a professional for help. In addition, experts caution that sound desensitization alone may not work in calming all of your pet’s storm fears, as many pets respond not only to the sounds of a storm, but also to static electricity, the drop in barometric pressure, and other environmental factors.

RELATED STORY: My Dog Is Shaking: 8 Possible Reasons

2. Offer Your Pet A Safe Space

One way to help your pet out during a storm is to make sure that they have a quiet and comfortable place to go (if they choose to) when a storm is going down. This may be a crate, a basement room, or a cozy corner of a bedroom away from any windows. The important thing is to allow your pet to decide where they want to go during a storm; confining an anxious pet or forcing them into a certain area of the house can result in heightened fear and panic.

3. Try A Thundershirt

Thundershirt is a garment designed to calm pets down by providing constant, gentle pressure to your pet’s body — almost like a perpetual hug. Experts believe that the shirt’s pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system, possibly due to the release of a calming hormone like endorphins. According to customer surveys completed by Thundershirt, over 80% of dogs and cats showed significant improvement in symptoms when wearing the shirt.

RELATED STORY: What Can Cause A Scared Cat To Panic

If you feel like you need help training your pet to weather the storm, your veterinarian should be able to provide recommendations to the following types of specialists:

Is your pet afraid of storms? How do you help them settle down? Leave a comment below, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, boarding, supplies (like Thundershirts!), and more.