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December 25, 2016 3 min read

Feral (stray) dogs


Behavior & appearance of a feral dog

Humans have shaped the evolution of dogs as a species. Without a human caretaker, dogs have to fend for themselves. It’s a very sad & continuous cycle. Dog’s will often repeatedly reproduce. Due to a lack of medical care, most feral dogs become thin, malnourished, & infested with parasites. When dog’s lack frequent “human contact”, they typically become “scared”, or “skittish”. They become wary or cautious of any human contact. When approached, their cautiousness may elicit a defensive response. 


Urine Marking

Stray dogs partake in “urine marking” for a few different reasons. A dog’s natural instinct is to mark with their urine in order to signal their presence to another dog. This behavior allows a dog to assert their dominance over a specific area. Urine marking becomes problematic if or when a dog is adopted into a new home. When a dog marks their territory, it usually creates a desire for another dog to also mark their territory in the same spot.


Unneutered dogs

Male dogs that have not been neutered may urine more frequently. This acts as an advertisement for their “reproductive availability”. Their scent will allow another dog to determine their reproductive health.


Research has shown that for many dogs, neutering or spaying reduces chances of urine marking habits. Neutering & spaying can diminish the need for reproductive signaling.


Anxiety & Stress

Sometimes stray dogs will urinate due to anxiety & stress. Their daily lives usually include stressful situations because of their uncertain living conditions. Urine marking can be a coping mechanism for a dog to alleviate their anxiety.


Can “Nature’s Mace Dog Repellent” really help?

Dog MACE is safe for people, animals, & plants! Our mission is to provide the most effective repellents, in the most humane manner possible. Dog MACE comes in both liquid & granular form. We highly recommend starting off with our liquid Dog MACE. It’s very versatile, so you can apply our Dog MACE to both high & low areas. For example, you can apply our Dog MACE to the grass, while also applying it to potted plants, or even patio furniture. Our Dog MACE is stain-free! However, if you plan on applying our Dog MACE to high quality fabrics & furniture, we recommend doing a small test patch (just to “play it safe”). We recommend cleaning, or “hosing down” an area where a dog has “gone potty”. A dog's scent can be potent! We want to eliminate any odor & territorial scent that a dog has left behind. This stops other dogs from wanting to return to that area, which creates a better environment to begin your Dog MACE process. Our liquid Dog MACE should be applied frequently, rather than “a lot” at once. Apply our Dog MACE once per day for 7-10 days straight. These are considered to be the main “training days”. Your dog may scratch, sniff, or walk around the area that the Dog MACE has been applied to. That’s perfectly normal. After seven days have passed you should notice a significant decrease in your dog's activity within that area. After those 7-10 days have passed, apply our Dog MACE every other day for the following week. For future applications, apply our Dog MACE at least once per week to maintain protection. This is the best way to change a dog's habit of going potty within an area! Our MACE targets a dog’s natural scent aversion, creating the desire for them to go potty elsewhere.


How can humans help stray dogs?

The ASPCA estimates that there’s around 6.3 million companion animals that enter shelters every year (Shelter Intake & Surrender. 2023. ASPCA.


Observe from a distance to ensure your own safety. It’s best to contact a human society, or animal rescue organization to report that there’s a stray dog. Typically, these organizations can provide guidance & resources to help the dog. If the dog seems thirsty, you can place water in a secure location that will be easily accessible to them. It’s best to consult with an animal rescue or humane society to determine the type of food to offer the dog. 

Social media is a great way to share information about a stray dog. Try to post photos, along with a detailed description of the dog. This will help spread awareness, along with increasing the chances of finding the dog's owner. If the dog doesn’t have an owner, social media is a wonderful way to find an adoptive home for the dog. 

Every situation is unique. If you’re unsure on how to handle a situation involving an animal that’s in trouble, please contact an experienced organization that can help.