Marking territory in dogs

Marking territory in dogs

Marking behavior is common in all dogs, regardless of their sex or age. It is a means of communication that varies greatly depending on the social status of the dog. Developing communication systems is an absolute necessity, especially for social species like domestic carnivores. Marking is primarily accomplished by depositing urine or feces. It is both visual and olfactory because of the pheromones.

Olfactory communication uses chemical messages called pheromones. Pheromones are defined as hormones that transmit information between individuals of the same species. They trigger a behavioral or psychological response in the receiver. These substances are emitted by the anal sacs, the perianal glands, the facial glands, the glands found in the interdigital spaces of the footpads and by the supra-caudal gland. They are also found in saliva, feces and especially in urine. These pheromones, especially those found in urine and feces, are released in social contexts such as with sexual and territorial behaviors. They serve as a means of communication and information exchange. Pheromones associated with defending territory are podalic and urinary in origin. They are released during the intimidation phase of territorial aggression. The dog scratches the ground with his fore legs and urinates on this spot by lifting his one of his hind legs.
When a subordinate dog smells a urine deposit left by a dominant dog, he tends to show signs of submission and urinate on the ground. The pheromones released in urine seem to convey hierarchical information. During a human-dog conflict there may be episodes when the dog urinates inside, which is actually a form of hierarchical urination. Dogs urinate in places that are strategic and of social importance (table legs, legs of the bed, front door, hallway, etc.). Some dogs will even defecate on a bed or the arm of the sofa, i.e. always in highly visible places. The feces is always very wet.

Marking territory in dogs