Territorial marking can be extremely frustrating and difficult to stop. If your French Bulldog has started leaving little pee marks around your home, there’s the staining, the smell, and the hygiene issues you have to deal with.
But why do French Bulldogs mark their territory in your home, and more importantly, how can you stop this from happening?
Before I explain more about the why and how, I just wanted to dispel a myth. It’s not just male French Bulldogs that mark their territory with urine. In some rare cases, female Frenchies will do it too – although it certainly isn’t as common.
You should also not worry about a one-off marking. This will happen occasionally but should be dismissed unless it becomes regular.
Why French Bulldogs mark territory with urine
1. Because they aren’t spayed or neutered
If your Male French Bulldog is marking territory with urine, it could be because they have not yet been neutered. You might also have this problem with female Frenchies yet to be spayed, but it is less common.
It won’t also be the root of the problem, as some dog owners have reported even after being neutered, a male Frenchie can still mark if an un-altered dog comes into the territory.
2. When they first come into your home
This is the easiest reason to understand; your new Frenchie wants to mark the territory of his new home.
You might also experience peeing in the house when you move home. Your French Bulldog will want to put his smell and signal on the new surroundings… but it should pass very quickly.
Handy Hint: Peeing in the house isn’t always due to territorial marking. It could also be down to diet and health. Read this article to find out more.
3. Due to contact with unfamiliar objects and smells
Your French Bulldog can also territory mark on new or unfamiliar objects in your home. It can range from new pieces of furniture, a new carpet, or even something that a house guest brings in with them.
We had this happen with our Frenchie, Claude, when my mother in law put her handbag down on the dining room floor. He had the smell of her own dog on it, so Claude urinated all over it to mark his territory.
4. When they come back from the vets or kennels
If your Frenchie has had to go to the vets or kennels for a stay over, they will be potentially stressed upon their return. They will have been prodded, poked, perhaps had a procedure… and will have been in a strange environment with other strange dogs.
It’s not uncommon for French Bulldogs to then come back into their home and pee somewhere to help to re-establish their presence.
5. To exert their dominance
This form of territorial marking is very problematic, as it essentially means that your Frenchie thinks he’s the dominant one and the alpha male.
Territorial urine marking will be combined with little bites, nips, and growls and needs to be stamped out quickly. You should never let your Frenchie think he’s the one in charge of the household.
Handy Hint: Read this guide which explains how to stop your French Bulldog from biting you and other people.
Marking to establish their dominance isn’t just related to us humans. Frenchies can also pee inside if they are having conflict with other dogs (and sometimes even cats).
Your French Bulldog will mark to establish where he thinks he sits in the pack to get regain the upper ground.
6. Seeing or smelling other dogs
I touched on this one in the third reason where Claude peed on my mother in law’s handbag which had the scent of a dog on it. But it doesn’t have to be scents inside of your home.
Frenchies can mark their territory indoors after having contact with other dogs when on a walk, or even after seeing another dog walk past your home’s window.
7. If a new pet or family member comes into the home
Frenchies like to exert their dominance over new arrivals. That could be over a new person coming into your home – perhaps a new partner or roommate – and also over other pets including new dogs and cats. Dogs like to position themselves as the pack leader.
The marking of territory can also occur when a baby comes into your home, but it doesn’t tend to last too long. It’s not entirely understood why this happens but could be due to either stress or dominance.
Speaking of cats, we own both and made a very successful introduction which I’d like to share with you. You can watch the video on YouTube (which is also embedded below), or head straight through to the Frenchies and cats guide with more detail.
8. Because they are stressed or have separation anxiety
Many of the reasons why your French Bulldog is marking his territory will come down to dominance, which could be triggered by stress.
But the stress of separation anxiety is also known to initiate urine marking in the house. Frenchies are by design, people dogs. They crave our companionship, so should not be left alone.
The bottom line is this; stress, conflict, being left alone, new objects, and changes to environment can all trigger urine marking.
Handy Hint: Read my guide to French Bulldog separation anxiety with the steps you can take to reduce the chances of mental anguish to your home alone Frenchie.
It might not actually be territorial marking
If your Frenchie has suddenly started peeing in the house, it might not be a marking problem, but something else instead. In any case, you should be getting advice from your vet, but it could be possible to diagnose the problem as being one of the following.
1. Medical problem
Don’t just think its urine marking without trying to rule out a health issue. Frenchies are prone to a wide range of problems, more than most breeds in fact. The most common medical issues that lead to urine indoors include:
- Incontinence: This is when your Frenchie’s bladder is leaking urine without them wanting to. Incontinent dogs won’t often even realize they have let pee go.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): Perhaps your Frenchie has an infection which leads to small urine leaks. Dogs with UTIs tend to lick their privates, so look for the two signs combined.
- Medication: Some dog medicines result in dog’s leaking urine involuntarily, or so quickly that they don’t have time to ask to go outdoors.
2. Uncontrollable urination due to anxiety, excitement or submission
Uncontrollable urination that isn’t related to a medical issue can occur due to three factors shown below.
- Anxiety urination: Some Frenchies will urinate uncontrollably when anxiety becomes too much. Try to see what the root cause of the anxiousness is.
- Excitement urination: Some Frenchies can do it when they meet someone or during play. They will get so excited that they cannot control their bladder and a leak occurs.
- Submissive urination: Some Frenchies will urinate when they are submissive. If you’ve got little kids, you will know exactly what I mean! Your dog might do this if you have scolded him. If you see your French Bulldog looking submissive when this happens, it’s a sure sign that it’s not territorial marking.
Is your Frenchie marking territory or just can’t hold his urine?
As I mentioned earlier, there are two types of urination; territorial marking, or uncontrollable urination and medical issues.
There’s a great video on YouTube which explains some easy ways you can tell the differences.
How to stop your Frenchie from territorial marking
If you now do think your French Bulldog is marking territory, then there are some things you can do to help prevent it from happening.
It’s really important to get to the root cause, as territorial marking is not only nasty and unhygienic, but can also trigger fights with dogs sharing the same house.
1. Get male Frenchies neutered (or females spayed)
Once your Frenchie has the dreaded snip, it should drastically reduce or even completely eliminate territorial urine marking.
According to studies, over half of all male dogs will stop urine marking once they have been neutered… but it can also be related to their age as this quote from WebMD.com shows:
“A study of urine marking in dogs revealed that 10 percent of the dogs who urine marked started the behavior at 3 months of age, 20 percent by 6 months, 40 percent by 12 months, 70 percent by 1½ years, and 90 percent before 2 years.”
2. Clean up immediately to stop repeated marking
As soon as you see the urine marking, clean it up. By removing the urine, you will be removing the stimulus for future markings. But just using soap and water won’t cut it, you need to use an enzyme cleaner that will destroy the organic elements found in urine.
Firstly, whilst you might smell the urine, you might not be able to see it. That’s where a little gadget called the Urine Finder Light on Amazon will help.
It uses ultraviolet light to find urine spots. If you’ve ever watched CSI when they use Luminol to find blood traces at a crime scene… kind of think of like that but for urine!
Once you’ve found the urine mark spots, clean it up thoroughly to remove any trace and scent. There are two products I recommend here, depending on where the urine was both by the Simple Solution brand.
There’s the Urine Destroyer for hard floors found on Amazon. This is great for urine marks on vinyl, wooden, tile, and any hard floors. It will remove the stain and any scent traces with a few applications.
If your Frenchie has marked a carpet or fabric, there’s a similar enzyme cleaning product designed for soft surfaces; Urine Destroyer for soft surfaces and carpets on Amazon.
Both are safe to pets and children if used correctly, and also are said to not damage the surface or item you clean.
Handy Hint: Don’t use any cleaning products with ammonia. Ammonia is found in urine, and the smell will simply encourage your Frenchie to continue to pee in the same spot.
3. Keep them away from the areas marked before
Once a French Bulldog has marked a spot, it will want to return to the same place to do it all over again. Cleaning the area as described in the previous step will be a great solution, but you should also consider keeping them away from the marking area if you can.
4. Change the meaning of the marked place
You should also try to re-train their brain as to the meaning of the area they have been marking in. For example, if it’s a corner of your room, clean it up and then place their toys and treats there.
Frenchies don’t like to eat from areas in which they have gone to the toilet, so make it clear that the marked area is for a different purpose.
5. Restrict their access to problem marking areas
If the territorial marking occurs when you are out of your house and cannot keep an eye on your Frenchie, then work to restrict their access.
That could mean using baby stair gates, or even confining the to their crate when you pop out and can’t supervise things.
Please Note: French Bulldogs cannot be left alone for long periods of time. Dogs should only be placed in crates for short periods of time when you can guarantee them potty breaks.
6. Leave things they like to mark out of reach
If your Frenchie was marking the property of your guests, just like Claude did with my mother in laws handbag, then make sure things get placed out of reach when they come into the house.
7. Limit their visibility of animals outside
Frenchies like to exert their dominance and will mark when threatened. If this is due to them seeing other dogs outside of your house, look for ways in which you can limit their view from the windows.
You might need to move some furniture around or place something near the window to stop your Frenchie from being able to see outside.
8. Use a synthetic hormone diffuser
I’ve never used one of these with our own Frenchie, but we do use a similar product with our cat who started peeing in our house due to anxiety and had great results.
There’s one on Amazon you can buy called the ThunderEase. It has exceptional reviews and is designed for dogs.
9. Give your Frenchie lots of attention and toys
Territorial urine marking can occur when your Frenchie feels threatened by a new arrival – I mentioned earlier how it can happen when a baby comes into the home.
Make your Frenchie feel like he’s not being left out and is still high on your list of prioritoes by giving him lots of love and attention when the baby or new person is in the room.
Handy Hint: See which toys are highly rated by French Bulldogs and their owners in my list of the 18 best toys Frenchies love to play with.
10. Show them you are the boss
French Bulldogs will urine mark to show that they are at the top of the food chain. This behavior should be corrected as soon as you see the warning signs.
The best way to do this is with effective training. If your Frenchie is taught how to sit, stay, come, and not bite, you’re halfway towards exerting your dominance.
Here are some training guides you might find useful to help establish yourself as the pack leader:
- Recall training and teaching them to come back when called
- How to reduce barking effectively
- How to stop biting and aggressive behavior
- Stopping the jumping up problem
- Teaching your French Bulldog how to sit on command
11. Reward good behavior
Frenchies respond very well to praise and reward. When you see your dog starting to make marking actions, get them outside as quickly as you can, then reward and praise them.
12. Don’t punish or scold them
Punishment never works with dogs and can lead to the opposite reaction you want. A scared Frenchie will urinate more, and you will exacerbate the problem.
I don’t recommend you raise your voice, certainly don’t strike them, but you can clap your hands loudly to get his attention before he marks.
13. Consider diapers for uncontrollable urination
If your Frenchie’s urine marking isn’t due to territory, but instead is uncontrollable or related to a medical issue, you could consider diapers in the short term.
See which diapers I recommend for Frenchies with urine problems or females who are in heat.
14. Talk to your vet
And lastly, just talk with your vet.
This is particularly true if the marking is due to anxiety, a health issue, or medication. If you can’t stop your Frenchie marking his territory with urine using my stepped guide, it’s also time to seek professional advice.
French Bulldogs will mark their territory with urine for a wide range of reasons, but in most cases, it should be relatively easy to identify the cause… and then take the steps to prevent it.
The key is to not confuse territorial marking with a different issue. If in doubt, please consult with your vet.