Audible Marking in Dogs. What is it and Why Do Dogs Mark?

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What is Audible Marking in Dogs? Put simply, it is a dog adding a vocal element to its marking behaviour. It’s a sort of deep, grumbling sound that is similar to a growl, but with less menace. It accompanies a dog’s urine marking or ground scratching.

It is a term that was coined in discussions between myself and Theo Stewart when discussing the behaviour of my dog, Harvey. To the best of my knowledge, the term has not previously been used.

At the time of writing this post, a Google search for “Audible Marking in Dogs’ reveals only a few exact matches. And those are my YouTube video of Harvey exhibiting the behaviour (see below) and then my forum and social media posts discussing the video!

1 Audible Marking in Dogs – Video

OK, so I’ve given you a very brief explanation of the term Audible Marking in Dogs.

However, I realise from speaking with others that the behaviour is pretty uncommon and so you may still not fully understand what I’m talking about.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. How many is a video worth? Well, in our case, quite a few more I’d suggest as it enables you to actually hear the behaviour as well as see it.

So, here is Harv doing his thing:

Audible Marking in Dogs – a demonstration by Harvey!

2 Examining the Behaviour

Having watched the video, what do you think is the explanation for the behaviour exhibited?

That’s exactly the question that I posed to a number of others with an interest in dogs and dog behaviour. Before we move on to consider the responses, let me give you a little background information so that you can make a more informed decision:

  • In a couple of weeks’ time Harvey, who is entire, will be 8 years old.
  • He has made this grumbling noise while peeing ever since he was a pup – as soon as he could cock his leg without falling over!
  • He makes the sound pretty much every time that we go out, and whether he is on-lead or off. All the clips on the video are on-lead simply to ensure that I was in the right place at the right time to record them.  They are more likely to occur at the beginning of a walk than at the end (perhaps because he is ‘fully loaded’ at the start!).
  • He makes the sound regardless of who is walking him.
  • He LOVES sniffing.  He would happily choose 5 yards of sniffing over a 5 mile walk! 
    He really enjoyed the scent-training classes that we took him to before the whole Covid thing started.
  • He is fine when meeting the vast majority of other dogs – ranging from complete indifference to happy tail-wagging and ‘play with me’ invitations. 

    Rarely, there are dogs that he will take an instant dislike to – and I can tell from the body language that the feeling in the other dog is mutual.  I do my best to avoid these encounters, even if that means turning around and going back the way I’ve just come!
  • He loves people and it rarely takes more than a couple of minutes in any meeting before he is rubbing his head on their legs and then rolling onto his back for belly rubs!
  • He has a walk with a dog walker 3 times a week. He is, apparently, a ‘complete angel’ whenever they have him and seems to love all dog and people encounters.
  • When he was around 9 months old he was attacked by a Border Collie.  We were walking along the pavement, Harvey on-lead, when the other dog appeared out of nowhere – off-lead and no owner in sight. 

    It briefly did that herding thing that Border Collies sometimes do and then just went for Harvey.  I had to ‘persuade’ him to stop with a swift introduction to my right boot! 

    We made sure that there were lots of encounters with friendly dogs afterwards but even after all this time he is very wary of most Border Collies. The grumbling noise had started well before this incident, I just mention it for completeness.

Before we go on to discuss the feedback from others, and my conclusions, let’s take a quick look at marking behaviour in dogs generally and consider the questions ‘What is marking in dogs?’ and ‘Why do dogs mark?’

3 What is Marking in Dogs?

So, you collect your new puppy and, the second that your attention is elsewhere, he lets loose a stream of urine that seems to defy the laws of physics!

How does all of that pee come out of such a small puppy?

Well, that isn’t marking. That’s just a desperate need to go and an indication that it’s time to start the house training process.

Why isn’t that an example of marking behaviour in dogs?

I’d say that there are 3 reasons:

  1. Duration.
  2. Intent.
  3. Frequency.


If a dog has a full bladder and needs to relieve himself then there will be a long, continuous stream until the need no longer exists.

Urine marking is typically fairly short in duration, often just a quick squirt.


What was your dog doing immediately before the release of urine?

In the featured image at the top of this post, you can see my dog, Harvey, releasing some urine. This is what he was doing immediately before that:

Audible Marking in Dogs - Harvey sniffs
Harvey sniffing

Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell. When a dog sniffs something so intently that a Typhoon could fly by and the dog wouldn’t even notice, then you can bet that another animal has already marked that spot.

When finding such a spot, a great many dogs will feel compelled to ‘over mark’ the spot, effectively adding their own scent to the existing scent(s), or to ‘adjacent mark’.

This desire can be so strong that a dog will go through the process of marking even when they are, how shall I put it, ‘out of ammo’!

So, if a dog wants to relieve himself then, pretty much, any spot will do. But if he wants to mark then it will be in a specifically chosen location.


A simple bladder emptying episode is fairly infrequent, probably only once or twice on a typical walk.

Marking, on the other hand, is much more frequent.

Sniff. Mark. Walk.

Sniff some more. Mark some more. Walk some more.

I know that many people find this supremely irritating and feel that it spoils their walk. If this is you then I have two observations:

  • It isn’t your walk!

    Its the time that you take your dog outside so that he can do the things that he wants to do. If you can combine that with a nice walk then great, but that isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the primary purpose.
  • Go sniff!

    Teach your dog a ‘Go sniff’ cue. When you say ‘Go sniff’ during a walk he gets to do his thing. When he has finished you say ‘All done’ and continue on your way.

    If you choose this approach then everybody that walks your dog needs to be on board with the ‘Go sniff’ cue and be consistent. If they aren’t then it won’t work (or won’t work as well as it should).

Other Types of Marking in Dogs

We’re all familiar with the urine marking scenario outlined above.

But, what other forms of marking are used by dogs?

Another pretty common form of marking is kicking up soil (or grass, or whatever the dog happens to be standing on at the time) with their back feet.

Some people consider this to be another form of scent marking. However, to the best of my knowledge, dogs don’t have scent glands in their feet! (Although they do sweat through their pads)

More likely explanations, in my opinion, are:

  • It’s some kind of visual marking (like bears clawing at a tree).
  • They are actually trying to disperse scent that has been left by another animal.

In terms of the subject of this post, audible marking in dogs, it’s worth noting that Harvey undertakes this behaviour both when urine marking and when feet marking.

4 Why do Dogs Mark?

Audible Marking in Dogs - dog pees on tree
The old standby – if there isn’t a lamp-post handy then a tree will do!

OK, so we’ve looked at the usual types of marking in dogs; depositing urine on objects and using the back feet to disturb the ground.

And we’re considering the possibility of whether there is such a thing as audible marking in dogs.

To help our considerations further let’s look at what drives marking behaviour in dogs. That is, ‘Why do Dogs Mark?’


As Jennifer Aniston used to say in a well-known TV ad “Here comes the science bit – Concentrate!

Scientific Study 1 – Lisberg & Snowdon

Study link: The effects of sex, gonadectomy and status on investigation patterns of unfamiliar conspecific urine in domestic dogs, Canis familiaris. (2009)

This study looked at the different behaviours of urine marking in a group of domestic dogs consisting of intact males, intact females, neutered males, and spayed females.

The study looked at behaviour in relation to social status within groups and also in relation to both urine marking from familiar dogs and also urine from unfamiliar dogs.

The study found:

  • All subjects showed high interest in unfamiliar urine samples
  • Urine from intact males and females elicited longer investigation
  • Sex, status, and familiarity patterns suggest that the strong interest in unfamiliar urine was to assess unfamiliar conspecifics in multiple social contexts, including mate and threat assessment


The test group of dogs were more interested in the urine from unknown dogs because it provided information regarding both potential mates and potential aggressors.

Scientific Study 2 – Lisberg & Snowdon (yes, again!)

Study link: Effects of sex, social status and gonadectomy on countermarking by domestic dogs, Canis familiaris. (2011)

This study followed on from the one above by the same authors. It looked at countermarking in relation to sex and social status.

The findings were:

  • Only male dogs overmarked
  • Intact males preferentially overmarked intact female urine
  • Overmarking males had higher social status than males that did not countermark
  • Dogs adjacent-marked only unfamiliar samples
  • Neither sex nor social status affected adjacent marking
  • Both males and females marked at and investigated ‘scent posts’ comprised of serial countermarks, often associated with visual landmarks
  • Males and females with higher social status urinated, investigated urine, and countermarked more than dogs with lower social status
  • Dogs of lower social status investigated urine from unfamiliar dogs longer than did dogs of higher status, suggesting that the dogs most at risk of losing resources were those most likely to investigate as potential risk assessment
  • Social and sexual patterns suggest that overmarks and adjacent marks may be distinct signals

In summary:

The dogs being studied showed that urine marking, and investigation of urine, was influenced by social status. They also showed that overmarks and adjacent marks may provide different signals.

Scientific Study 3 – Cafazzo, Natoli, & Valsecchi

Study link: Scent-Marking Behaviour in a Pack of Free-Ranging Domestic Dogs. (2012)

This study, involving free-ranging domestic dogs, specifically focused on the significance of different scent-marking behaviour patterns by testing two hypotheses:

  1. Indirect territorial defence hypothesis
  2. Dominance/threat hypothesis

The study established that:

  • Markings are used by dogs to form a ‘property line’
  • They are also used to threaten rivals during agonistic conflicts
  • Both males and females used scent-marking to assert dominance
  • Raised-leg urination and ground scratching probably play a role in olfactory and visual communication
  • Ground scratching is used as a display of social dominance and as a means of territorial defence
  • Ground scratching in domestic dogs is likely to be an additional visual mark to reinforce the olfactory cue of urine marking
  • The act of ground scratching is most often performed by older high-ranking individuals
  • Urinations from females may convey information about their reproductive state
  • Defaction does not play an essential role in olfactory communication

So …

The studied dogs demonstrated that urine marking is used as a method of defining territorial boundaries. Furthermore, it was found that high-ranking individuals are more likely to display marking behaviour and that males have a higher rate of marking than females.

Scientific Study 4 – B. McGuire, B. Olsen, K. E. Bemis, & D. Orantes

Audible Marking in Dogs - little white dog pees
Small dogs can be dishonest (clever?) in their urine marking

Study link: Urine marking in male domestic dogs: honest or dishonest? (2018)

This is an interesting study in that it doesn’t so much explain why dogs mark, rather it demonstrates the importance of the act for dogs.

The study found that:

  • Marking is thought to communicaate information about the signaler’s size and corresponding competitive ability and accurtaley reflect the signaler’s attributes (ie an honest signal)
  • However, new data suggests that scent marking can be dishonest in some circumstances, such as urine marking in adult male domestic dogs
  • The height at which urine marks are deposited can give some indication of the size of a dog. However, it was found that smaller dogs often increase the angle of their raised leg, and thereby the height of the marking, in what is assumed to be an attempt to indicate that they are bigger than is actually the case
Audible Marking in Dogs - Yorkie pees
Excellent angle – not sure where the target is though!

Honesty in dogs:

It appears that some dogs may urine mark in a way that could be considered to be dishonest. This could help smaller dogs to more successfully protect resources than might otherwise be the case.

Scientific Studies – Summary

It seems likely that the hugely superior sense of smell that dogs possess, when compared to humans, enables a huge range of information to be communicated in a non-verbal way.

It can be difficult for us, with our limited sense of smell and primary focus on vision, to fully comprehend the intricacies of such communication.

That said, advances in study techniques are being made, such as the biologging and machine learning approach discussed by Owen R Bidder et al, and these should lead to a greater understanding.

So, what have we learned about marking behaviour in dogs?

Why do dogs mark?:

  • Assessment of unfamiliar dogs, especially potential mates and potential aggressors
  • Communication of social status, with males and females of higher social status marking, investigating, and countermarking more than dogs of lower social status
  • Defining territorial boundaries

5 Audible Marking in Dogs

So, armed with that knowledge, let’s give some further thought as to whether Audible Marking in Dogs is, in fact, a form of marking. Or something else entirely.

5.1 Third Party Observations

Theo raised the matter with her behavioural discussion group and got some interesting feedback. In the interests of confidentiality, I’ll just use first names.

Some of the points made were:

  • Emma has encountered the behaviour in a couple of shelter dogs. One was extremely aggressive and the other extremely aroused by other dogs. Both were male dogs and considered to be territorial.
    Additionally, it was noted that it always seemed to be when marking over male pee that the growling sound was made. The dogs also habitually scraped the ground after marking.
  • Owen observed that Harvey seemed to be in a state of high arousal and was probably reacting to the smell of other dogs. Owen had also seen the behaviour in some shelter dogs.
  • Roberta said that she had a female, spayed, husky-malamute dog that exhibits the behaviour. She doesn’t do it every time that she marks, but quite a lot. She sniffs where another dog has marked, growls, and then pees on it.
    The dog is very friendly with people and other dogs, not at all aggressive.
  • Jo noted that one of her dogs used to show this behaviour when overmarking. Over time (years!) she was able to identify the dogs that left the marking that elicited the behaviour most strongly. In his case they were all males and all bull breeds (a breed that he had a particular dislike for having been attacked by a pair of Staffordshire Bull Terriers). He would also always scratch the ground after marking.
    Jo also noticed that the intensity of the growling and scratching was influenced by how long ago the mark had been left. The most intense reactions usually indicated that they were likely to see the dog in question during the rest of the walk.

I also raised the topic in a FaceBook group called The School of Canine Science. The group is run by Jo-rosie Haffenden, Nando Brown, and Dean Nicholas (if you have any interest in dog training and behaviour I’m sure that you will be familiar with these names).

Now, I don’t want to mislead you, none of those individuals commented on the post that I made. However, I think that it goes to show the sort of people who frequent the group.

These were the observations:

  • Chrissy suggested that Harvey looked a bit tight in his right hind leg and that the grumbling may be a result of low level chronic pain.
  • Georgia hadn’t seen this type of behaviour before but wondered whether he was smelling pee from other dogs and then giving an audible signal before he marks too.
  • Tosia considered whether perhaps the grumbling was almost like a sign of annoyance that another dog had marked his spot. That is, a vocalisation caused by an emotional response to a ‘neighbour audacity’. Tosia had witnessed dog fights that were prompted by one dog overmarking another dog’s marking.
  • Sara commented that it may simply be an arousal issue. That is, the sniffing and marking were making Harvey so aroused that he grumbled in response (and that this response has become conditioned).
  • Sonia agreed with Sara that it may be a form of conditioned vocalisation.
  • And Lynn said that her dog sometimes goes out into the garden and gives a happy bark after a particularly high value meal.

Finally, I posed the question on the My Labrador Friends forum, too.

And here are some of the thoughts from there:

  • edzbird observed that Harvey was REALLY interested in scents and that he wasn’t expressing pain.
  • Oberon concurred that it was definitely not a pain sound. She also added that her dog made these sounds during rough play and she believes it is a pleasure sound – a ‘that feels good, I’m getting into this’ kind of thing.
  • Candy has never known any dog to do this but thought that it was a ‘happy boy dog’ thing.
  • Xena Dog Princess was also in the pleasurable sound camp.
  • Loraseal thought that it wasn’t a pain sound and that it may be a response to my ‘Go sniff’ cues.
  • Emily_Babbelhund also thought that it definitely wasn’t pain. Her own dog exhibits the behaviour very rarely. She interprets it as being letting out his excitement in as many ways as he can; sniffing, marking, scratching, and talking.
  • Boogie also thought it to be pleasure/satisfaction.
  • M.F. commented that their dog shows the behaviour sometimes. A very throaty sound, often accompanying scratching the ground. The dog is very friendly and avoids confrontations.
  • Jelinga wondered whether the sound doubles up on the scent marking in a sort of ‘I’m better than you’ manner.
  • And Beanwood wondered whether the sound was related to the act of marking and was some sort of ‘happy fist pump’.

5.2 Weighing-up the Observations and Further Consideration

So, do we have any sort of consensus of opinions?

Pain or discomfort

Well, although some thought that Harvey may be in mild pain and was vocalising those feelings a larger proportion felt that this was not the case.

I think that it is highly unlikely to be pain.

Why? Well …

  • Although he has mild arthritis now, he has shown this behaviour from when he was relatively young (old enough to actually cock his leg and mark) so it seems unlikely that there would have been any arthritic pain at that time.
  • He grumbles a lot but there are times, especially when in his own garden, that he does not. Surely if he was in pain then he would be in pain consistently.
  • It’s difficult to articulate this but he doesn’t, to me as his human, seem to be in pain. He seems very content – almost pleased with himself!

Arousal or excitement

Many observers commented on Harvey’s apparent high state of arousal when making the grumbling sound.

There is certainly some merit to this.

It isn’t the sort of excitement that would result in a ‘Wall of Death’ episode in the garden where he races around in a circle at high speed, with eyes bulging and his tail tucked between his legs! But, is certainly very intently focused on the scents that he can smell.

This brings us to …

Audible marking

The majority of the commenters observed that the behaviour happened while urine marking or while scratching the ground.

And that the grumbling maybe some sort of emotional response from Harvey, ranging from annoyance at other dogs for marking in his spot to some sort of celebratory ‘I’m better than you’.

When discussing the matter with Theo, we thought that the behaviour was as if Harvey was asserting himself and really enjoying being ‘the man’. A display of attitude! He wants the whole dog world to know that he has passed by!!

So, is audible marking in dogs a thing?

The behaviour doesn’t happen in isolation. Nor is it sufficiently loud, like a warning bark, that it would send any sort of message to dogs at a distance.

Therefore, I don’t think that we can say that it is a distinct form of marking in its own right.

Rather, as it always accompanies urine marking and/or ground scratching, audible marking appears to be some form of embellishment to those other forms of marking.

It may be an added signal to nearby dogs that are able to hear it.

It may be a signal to the accompanying human that other dogs have been in the area and a response needs to be left.

Or, at the risk of anthropomorphizing, it may simply be some sort of emotional expression brought on by the other forms of marking. A need to draw added attention to the act of marking. The vocal equivalent of a fist pump.

5.3 Further Feedback Request

I think that audible marking in dogs is fairly rare (for a long time I thought that Harvey was the only dog that did it!).

I’d love to hear from you if you have, or know of, a dog that does it. Please let me know in the comments below.

6 Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some FAQs related to marking in dogs.

What is Audible Marking in Dogs?

Put simply, it is a dog adding a vocal element to its marking behaviour. It’s a sort of deep, grumbling sound that is similar to a growl, but with less menace. It accompanies a dog’s urine marking or ground scratching.

Why do Dogs Mark?

It’s a surprisingly complex question. A dog’s sense of smell is many times better than that of a human and this enables them to obtain far more information from urine marking than you may imagine.

It is thought that marking provides information in relation to both potential mates and potential aggressors. It also helps to define territorial boundaries. It is even thought to provide information on social status.

How do you Know if your Dog is Marking?

When it comes to urine marking there are 3 main factors; duration, intent, and frequency.

If a dog needs to relieve himself there will be a long, continuous stream of urine. Whereas, urine marking is typically fairly short in duration, a quick squirt and it’s done.

If your dog was sniffing a spot intently immediately before the release of urine it is probable that he is now over-marking another dog’s urine mark.

A simple bladder emptying is fairly infrequent. Urine marking, on the other hand, is likely to occur quite often.

At what Age do Dogs start Marking?

Dogs typically start marking as soon as they are old enough to cock their leg comfortably without falling over! There will be practice attempts as a dog matures but it typically starts at around 3 months old.

Why is my Dog Marking in the House?

Urine marking outside is used to provide and obtain information relating to potential mates, potential aggressors, social status, and territorial boundaries.

In a home, the same threat assessment considerations usually don’t apply – your dog will normally be sufficiently comfortable in the house that he doesn’t feel the need to mark.

If he is marking, rest assured that it isn’t him being spiteful or willful – dogs aren’t like that. It is likely because he feels threatened by something new (rugs and carpets, furniture, a guest’s handbag, or even the guest!), especially if it has the scent of another dog on it. It could also be a response to feeling anxious.

The quickest way to prevent this from happening is likely to be to have a consultation with a qualified dog behaviourist.

7 Acknowledgements

Image acknowledgements:

Content images provided courtesy of PezibearPezibearGianni Crestani

8 The End

Richie's Room - Harv leaving
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58 thoughts on “Audible Marking in Dogs. What is it and Why Do Dogs Mark?”

    • Hi Jamie. Yes, it really is fascinating, isn’t it? Dogs behaviour is always both more complex and more nuanced than you might expect.

  1. This is the perfect post for International Dog Day! I’ve recently started doing a lot more pet sitting so I’ve been exposed to more dogs than usual. I have not noticed audible marking behavior when walking the dogs. It is quite a curiosity and I will listen for it in the future.

    • Thanks for your comment, Kathy. Yes, it was well-timed, wasn’t it? I’d love to say that it was deliberate but …

  2. I’m actually really clueless when it comes to this kind of thing. I’m not a pet owner but my sister is and she’s also a vet. She is really helpful when it comes to stranger’s dogs, signals and markings!

    • Thanks for your feedback, Alicia. I’m not surprised that you’ve never heard of it – the behaviour is quite unusual and the term ‘audible marking in dogs’ is new 🙂

    • Hi Lucy. I’m glad that you found it interesting to read – it was an interesting one to write, that’s for sure.

  3. Wow I had no idea about all these! I had a dog as a child but don’t remember anything now. This post was really detailed and informative. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  4. Wow, thank you for sharing such a detailed post! I love how you touched on every single topic including third party observations. This is incredibly informative and I will be sure to pass this along to other dog owners.

    • Hi. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and found it to be informative. Do, please, share it with others who may be interested.

  5. This is a really informative and interesting post! I don’t have a dog but when I adore my sister’s dog and thinking about it, he does make this same noise when out for walks and sniffing around an area! He does give us a laugh because he still pees like a girl dog when actually peeing, but then he cocks the leg to mark the area.

    • Hi Vourneen. That’s interesting to hear about your sister’s dog – how old is he? Is he entire? And it’s always good when our dogs can make us laugh 🙂

  6. I never knew the topic of dog marking could be so interesting! It’s fascinating there are so many studies done about this and I find it amusing that dogs can be dishonest in their markings. The audible marking idea is really fascinating and love that you’ve explored what this could mean. I’m no dog expert, but I agree with the others that say it doesn’t sound like it’s attributed to pain. Thanks for the informative post! 🙂

    • Hi Alison. Yeah, who knew pee could be so interesting?! I must admit, I had come across dishonest marking before – but in grizzly bears! Bears often mark by scratching the bark from trees to indicate their height – some dishonest bears will stand on things, like fallen trees, to make themselves higher before scratching! Sneaky!! 😉

  7. Admittedly, I found Harvey growling quite the cute one, and I had never experienced that before with any other dog, nor had I heard about audible marking before this great article Richie! We have two boys in the house and they are very much silent when out and about doing their business, but it kind of made me think of a reaction you’d assume completely normal from a human sniffling a flower or perfume and making some sounds – so why not for our 4 legged friends too?

    • Hi Simona. Thanks for your feedback. Yeah, I think that the sounds he makes are more amusing than they are threatening (like a proper growl). Are your boys keen sniffers?

  8. Such a detailed post and so interesting. I never really thought about why the dogs grumbled and made a noise. They are such complex interesting animals.

  9. I’ve never actually heard of audible marking in dogs before. This is such an interesting and detailed post. It’s amazing the amount of studies that have been done.


  10. I cannot say I have ever heard of audible marking before, but I am fascinated by my read of this! I do not think it is a sign of pain and enjoy the conclusion of embellishment.
    Love that you have opened some conversation around this and discovered Harvey is not alone in his ways. 🙂

    • Hey Jaya, thanks very much for your comment. Yes, it’s nice to know that Harv is not alone in this unusual behaviour 🙂

  11. It’s an interesting analysis about why dogs mark and how audible marking is so rare among dogs, backed by some scientific research. By reading this, now I am sure that my dog was a high social status dog (RIP).

    Thanks for sharing such a helpful and insightful article on dog behavior, Richie.

    Harvey xx

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and found it interesting (and possibly gained some insights into your dog’s behaviour). Thanks for your feedback.

  12. This was interesting, I’ve had three male dogs and can’t remember any of them ever doing this. Hugo (5, intact) definitely doesn’t do this although he does mark every three seconds when he’s walking. And I totally agree, its’ their walk, not ours! Sniff, mark, repeat is a normal part of dog ownership!

    • Hi Sophie. I’m glad that you found the post was interesting (and that you understand whose walk it is 😉 )

  13. Oh that’s interesting. My partner’s mums dog does this and wees a bit but we believe it’s related to anxiety. She often does it in new places or if she’s over excited and you have to just ignore her for a bit otherwise she does it in the house.

    Corinne x

    • Hi Corinne. Thanks very much for the feedback. I agree, it could well be anxiety, especially if it’s happening in the house. Perhaps have a chat with a behaviourist?

  14. This is such an informative post Richie. I knew absolutely nothing about making in dogs and so I learnt quite a lot from this post. I do not currently own a dog lol but this information would definitely be useful when I get one. Thank you for sharing x

    • Thank you, Ruth. Yes, considering the subject matter (mainly, dog pee!) it is remarkably interesting, isn’t it?

  15. Well, I’ve learned something new. I had no idea dogs even done this, I never noticed it with my old dog Lilly, but with you saying it’s not overly noticeable I doubt I would have if I wasn’t listening. This was very interesting to read about, glad Harvey wasn’t in any pain and it didn’t indicate that.

    Thank you for sharing yet another insightful post with lot’s of great points and providing so much information from others as that was interesting to read what others thought it could mean.

  16. This was such an interesting article! I never heard of audible markings being a thing and really found it interesting to read the opinions from the forums too. I only experienced dogs that scratched after peeing, so I thought it might have been just for territory.

    • Hi Cristina. I’m pleased that you found the post to be interesting. From what I can gather, it is quite a rare behaviour.

  17. Urine marking is so common in cats, all of ours are frequent markers – outside, fortunately, although we’ve had a few incidents inside when we’ve introduced a new cat to the household. I’ve never noticed any growling or noises to accompany this though, so that’s a new one on me!

    • Hi Lisa. Yes, its pretty rare from what I can gather. And that’s just in dogs – I’ve never heard of it in cats.

  18. I learned a lot from reading this post. I didn’t really know what audible marking was until reading this so thanks so much for sharing all this information

    • Thanks for your feedback, Charity. Who would have thought that so much information could be obtained from dog pee? 😉

  19. My now two year old Labrador started audible marking at 9 months. We felt certain that it wasn’t as a result of him being in pain (?hips/urinary tract) but our vet was adamant that there was something wrong. Nothing was found, although he will have a definitive x-ray whilst under GA for neutering next week. I’m so relieved to see this behaviour acknowledged at last! He’s a calm, confident dog who gets on well with other dogs. The worst thing is the reaction from people passing when they hear a ‘growling’ dog!

    • Hi Jayne, thanks for your comment – I’m glad that you have found some comfort in reading that you and your dog are not alone in relation to this behaviour.

      I’m not really surprised that your vet hasn’t heard of it (mine hadn’t either) – it only seems to happen in a fairly small percentage of dogs. I would never dismiss the concerns of a vet as they are the experts in the health and well-being of our dogs but if the x-ray results don’t give any cause for concern, and I hope that they don’t, it may be worth mentioning that other dogs do exhibit this behaviour.

      And I know what you mean about the reaction from other people. To be fair, it can be quite an intimidating sound, especially for anybody that is nervous about dogs already. The approach I take is to make light of it and try to reassure them at the same time – smile and say something like “It’s OK, he just likes to announce to the world that he is having a pee!”. Most people will relax at that point.

  20. I stumbled over this post while researching my own dogs ‚Audible Marking‘ behavior.

    My intact 1,5 year old German shepherd/dachshund mix is a shelter dog and we adopted him when he was around 5 months old.

    He started the growling/grumbling once he hit puberty and seems to only do it around our neighborhood, while marking over Urin from a dog he’s, at least by smell, familiar with.

    He never does it with unfamiliar Urin.

    I definitely always interpreted it as a sign of stressrelease.
    He seems to be more vocal while marking when his general anxiety-levels are higher, and when interrupted the vocalisation CAN turn into redirected aggression, especially if the ‚offending‘ dog is still nearby.

    He also becomes more territorial with increased stress, so it definitely seems like it’s related to territorial defense marking to me.

    In any case, your post has taught me a lot about marking behaviors (among other things that my little boy apparently thinks quite highly of himself :D).

    • Hi there, and thanks for your feedback. It’s interesting to read about the possible link with stress in your dog.

  21. I’m so glad I came across this article and happy to know I’m not the only one looking for answers. I was googling “why does my dog growl while he marks” and yr post came up first.

    My soon to be 2 yr old golden retriever started this growling thing a lil over 5-6 months ago. He is intact, calm and happy dog who loves meeting all dogs to say a hi. Of course he has some dogs that he doesn’t like too and let’s them know. These growls are not a regular affair, but I always notice it only in certain bushes, and during his marking or ground scratching. Always during our walk back home after enuf play at dog park and walk thereafter. It’s almost always me walking him, so I’m starting to notice this. A friend happened to be with me once and asked what’s this growl. I said no idea. Then she had a guess that maybe a dog he doesn’t like, has peed here and he is peeing over it and letting them know that he was here. Somewhat ties with some of the comments made in the group discussions in yr post. I wish I had the growls captured on video. Defly doesn’t seem to be in pain (although that was the first thought that came to me, maybe urinary inf etc, but growls are not always. ) I’m yet to chk with a vet on this, but reading from above, I know what response to expect. Will update you if I hear any theory.

    • Hi Ramya. Thanks for your comment. No, you are certainly not the only one to experience this scenario – but we are very much in the minority! I’d certainly be interested to hear any further feedback.

  22. I have 2 intact male Papillons. One is 7 years old the other is a 1 year old. They are distantly related.
    They are both very vocal in play, not barking just “growly”
    Both very social with people and dogs.
    They both do the audible marking periodically!
    I would say the older dog is sending specific message as it tends to be one tree!
    The youngster is extremely high energy and I think his is more a release of energy

    • Hi Sonia. Thanks very much for your feedback. Yes, I think our dogs do tend to have favourite spots to mark 🙂

  23. So glad to have found this article – very fascinating stuff. I have a four-year-old ex-racing greyhound we adopted 9 months ago. He’s been coming out of his shell very gradually and slowly revealing new aspects of his personality. He’s just started audibly marking in the last week or two and I had never seen anything like it. He marks and then he growls while scratching the ground veeeery enthusiastically and vigorously. He seems happy enough; I assumed it was a “this is ***my*** pee spot” sort of thing.
    Personality-wise, he’s very good with other dogs, ranging from enthusiastic playing to general indifference, depending on the individual. He’s never shown aggression to another dog. Some issues with the sleep aggression/sleep startling that’s common to retired racing greyhounds but otherwise a very sweet, gentle boy.

    • Hi Sarah. Thank you very much for your comment – it is an interesting topic, for sure. I think the audible marking is pretty uncommon – but not as rare as I had first thought when writing the article!

  24. Interesting article. My dog does this. He is an intact Bearded Collie male. Like your dog he has done it since he was quite young (maybe six months?) and he is generally friendly and avoids confrontation. He also has certain dogs he immediately likes and others he immediately dislikes but his response is avoidance, not aggression. He growls when marking occasionally but not every time. He also scratches at times. Your explanation makes sense. I always joked that he was saying “take that tree!” Lol

    • Hi Rachel. Thanks for adding your comment – I did laugh at the “take that tree!” part 🙂 It’s a fascinating subject isn’t it – and impacts more dogs than I had first imagined.


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