Thank you for describing these things in context, krandall! It makes so much more sense. When I read about preventing roaming I thought of this little terrier in our old neighborhood who was always ďescapingĒ and wandering around and I thought, whatever they say will prevent that! But we arenít keep-the-dog-in-the-backyard people, and we supervise closely, so what you said puts it into perspective.
I have to admit, Iím really not familiar with marking other than dogs do it, but I sort of assumed it is handled similarly to potty training. Again, though, I read early neutering can minimize marking and thought, who wouldnít want that? Iím not sure Iíd be able to tell the difference between peeing and marking at this point. I think our puppy has marked when he was really worked up about being left alone. Thatís a whole separate issue, but both times it appeared as if he held it just fine for the 30-45 minutes he was alone but peed when we saw me, and it was almost like a spray.
It sounds like some dogs do mark less after neutering but itís not at all reliable and I just need to make sure weíve decided as a family how to handle it so weíre consistent (like with everything else). Iím not sure how to handle it when heís upset, I donít want to punish him for it, but hopefully that will resolve itself as we figure out the separation/anxiety. Which is very real. I should probably post separately about that later.
That's DEFINITELY NOT marking! Marking is a way of communicating with other dogs. It says "I was here". We also call it "pee male".
What is happening with your puppy is probably excited peeing due to lack of sphincter control (not uncommon in young dogs of both sexes) It USUALLY goes away on its own, but can definitely be helped by solving underlying anxiety issues, and by training CALM greetings. There is also sometime "submissive peeing", usually also an anxiety thing. But this is less common, and I think the first is probably what's going on with your puppy. It is DEFINITELY NOT marking behavior.
Marking behavior needs to be trained, EXACTLY like potty training. Even though it's pee in both cases, in the dogs' minds, it is NOT the same function/behavior. So even a dog that is COMPLETELY reliable in terms of "potty training" will sometimes start to mark during adolescence, or under certain circumstances.
For instance, a friend of mine visited last summer with her bitch in heat. Panda was COMPLETELY reliable potty trained and 18 months old. The bitch sat on the kitchen floor at one point (leaving no mark that a human could see, but obviously her scent. Panda walked over, right in front of us, sniffed, turned around, squatted and squirted a little pee onto the spot, before I could stop her. THAT was clear marking. We had "words" and she got sent outside. She hasn't done it again, but if she is again around another bitch in heat, I will watch her like a hawk. that's what training is all about.
With boys, it can help to not let them sniff vertical surfaces where other dogs may have marked previously. I was FANATICAL about that with Kodi, because I DIDN'T want a male dog who marked. He was allowed to wander, sniff and mark off leash outdoors, but never in a building. (and be careful in training facilities... There are lots of adolescent dogs who do "drive bus" and their owners don't even notice, so DON'T let your young dog sniff corners of doorways and such in those places, and keep a CLOSE eye on your dog!)
Iíll have to think about it more, but I do feel better about possibly waiting until May - I just didnít want to cause harm by waiting too long. The biggest issue is he canít be left alone at all right now and thatís a long time to wait. Weíre working on it, but Iím pretty sure he has real separation anxiety and I donít think itíll be a quick fix so I do need to be able to leave him with a family style sitter I can trust.
And that is a really valid thing to think about. If the only way to leave him in an appropriate, non-stressful sitter situation is to neuter him, the anxiety issue, in my mind, would trump the benefits of holding off. Actually, I might do it anyway if my dog needed to be in a day care situation where he was loose with other dogs, of unknown training status during this period. If there are markers in the group, he will CERTAINLY pick it up. It will be a stronger urge in an unneutered dog, and much harder for you to curb, when you are only with him, and able to train it, sometimes, when other times he gets away with it.