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Why Does My Dog Lift His Leg

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Why do dogs lift their leg when peeing?

They lift their leg to mark vertical objects. Smells that are off the ground, carry easier through the air. Also, the scent is at about nose level as another dog walks by.


Why does my dog lift his leg? Why do dogs mark?

Dogs experience the world through their sense of smell. Their noses are so strong that they can pick a large amount of information from the smallest amount of scent. They can learn so much about the other animal who marked the spot before them. Things like the dog’s sex, what they are eating, are they healthy, are they sexually mature, are they in heat and when they were at this spot. So they can learn everything about who “owns” this spot. Now, being territorial, your dog wants to claim said spot so they pee over the pee. Dogs can tell who was at the spot and when so new pee trumps the old pee. So marking is just simply a way to say “Hey man this belongs to me now!”

Lifting the leg lets a dog pee on something verticle. They usually learn how to do this from watching older dogs or smelling something that is higher up and figuring out on their own how to pee on it. And yes, girl dogs can lift their leg as well. Behaviorists believe that marking vertical objects serves several different purposes.

  • One, scents that are off the ground carry further in the wind. So their message can be spread far and wide.
  • Two, scents that are up on a vertical object are also at another dog’s nose level. So it is right in the other dog’s face when the dog is walking by.
  • Three, peeing up off the ground might make your dog seem larger to other dogs. So the higher the pee the bigger the dog might seem to another dog. We have all seen the little dogs lifting both their legs to really get their pee high up!

Because dogs learn through their sense of smell about other dogs in the neighborhood, I want to strongly encourage all of you dog owners out there, to let your dog smell as long as they need on their walks. This will also stimulate them mentally and get them a little bit more tired during a walk than just walking by your side. Let them go explore!!