Why do Dogs Lift Their Legs? Why do Dogs Lift Their Legs?

Sometimes you wonder if you’re ever going to make it around the block.  Your male dog stops every few feet to lift his leg-on trees, light poles, car tires.  You name it, he’ll mark it.

A dog’s urine contains scent markers that delineate his territory, inform other dogs of his whereabouts, indicate his social standing and sexual availability, and warn off intruders.  Dogs cock their legs to distribute scent at the highest point possible, allowing air currents to sweep it throughout the area.

That dog walk around the block every evening is like one long continuous canine bulletin board.  The urine marker left on an oak tree might say “Choppers was here-male poodle, unneutered, likes to eat Special Beef Chunks, looking for a GOOD time.”  On the grass beneath it is a reply: “Noodles calling-female Golden Retriever, in heat, eats only from Mamma’s plate, HOT to trot!”  Your dog thinks Noodles sounds pretty good-too good for Choppers- so he carefully aims a urine stream at Choppers spot on the tree, hoping to cover it with his own message: “Lucky here-say, Noodles, wouldn’t you like to get Lucky tonight?”

Research has show that dogs  can urine mark up to 80 times in a four-hour period.  A dog who frequently lifts his leg is expressing his dominant personality.  Very dominant dogs may even urine mark other dogs or people.  Leg-lifting is not limited to males.  Very dominant females, especially among the terrier breeds, may also lift a leg.

Leg lifting behavior is okay outdoors on a walk, but it becomes a problem when the dog starts marking territory indoors.  A dog left home alone may become nervous and lift his leg on furniture or walls to warn away potential intruders.

This dog may be suffering from separation anxiety.  Hiring a dog walker to break up the day helps with this anxiety.  Your dog may also benefit from staying in a dog crate to give him the feeling of security in a smaller “den” and giving him plenty of bathroom breaks and dog walking via a pet sitter visit throughout the time you are away.



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