Urine marking in dogs is a form of communication. We have an e-mail, and our dogs have p-mail. Being a dog owner, seeing your dog pee at every possible place on the road is very frustrating and I know many of you would agree with me on this. You might be irritated when you take your dog for a walk, and you see him stopping at every pole and every car on the road just to pee. It might be irritating for you, but for your dog, his urine is like ink. This is just another way by which they can communicate with the other dogs. Confused? Let me tell you, when your dog goes out, besides barking at other dogs, urine marking is another source which he uses to let other dogs know about his presence in an area, and you cannot stop him from doing this. This habit appears to be more common in male dogs. Just like we humans mark our things with our names; similarly, dogs mark theirs with their urine. Male dogs show this peculiar behaviour more frequently as compared to female dogs. It is a way they use to drop their signature at a new place. Urine marking is used as the means to trigger a social response in other dogs.
Dogs are territorial animals. It is a fact that dogs do indulge in this exercise of marking their spots on the road or even when they go to your neighbours’ house to show that it’s their spot and they like it. Dogs, when roaming around in the street, tend to leave their mark through their urine on the road. A dog peeing on the road is similar to our tweets on our Twitter account, where we let others know of our presence by constant tweeting. Similarly, the dog leaves his smelly pee to show other animals that yes, “It’s my territory,” and I do exist. This sort of tweeting among dogs to let others know of their presence in an area is known as urine marking. The recipients (other dogs and animals) of the dog’s pee get to know about the dog’s sex, identity, and reproductive status of the marker.
Leg-lifting on vertical surfaces is the most commonly seen sign of urine-marking. You might have seen your dog barking profusely at a random person who tries to cross your gate; the dog does so, to let the stranger know that it’s his area and that the stranger cannot be allowed entry there. Similarly, when your dog goes out on the road, whichever area appeals to him, he marks it with his urine reflecting it as his territory. It can be done either on the poles, car tire or particular roadside walls. You must have also seen that when you bring a new dog close to your dog, he suddenly starts peeing in instalments in the surrounding areas. He is dropping his urine marks to show his dominance on seeing a new intruder in his society. He may even do so when he sees any random street dog while on a walk.
Dominance & Anxiety
Urine-marking has always been linked to the dominant behaviour of the dogs. But, it is not so. Urine marking is not the only way of showing dominance over other dogs. As soon as you bring a second or a third dog in your family, you might have seen your dog peeing more frequently than before at all odd possible places, a sofa, table leg and even inside your kitchen. And this undoubtedly frustrates you. You need to understand that your dog is way too stressed to see a new addition in his family. Out of this anxiety, he keeps on urine-marking each possible corner of the house to make other canine members aware of his prior existence.
Anxiety causes your dog to deposit higher amounts of urine and additionally on the nonvertical surfaces too. The causes of this anxiety can be multiple, e.g. addition of new furniture in your house, the presence of a new member, entry of new dog into dog’s usual environment and even a conflict between any two dogs may cause him to indulge into urine marking out of anxiousness.
Why Do Dogs Urine Mark?
To understand this logic completely, as a dog owner, you should be aware of the idea of spayed and neutered dogs. To prevent their dogs from reproducing, some owners may get their females spayed and males neutered. If I talk about urine marking, bitches and males, which are reproductively intact, are more likely to urine mark as compared to the ones which have been spayed or neutered. However, in unspayed females, urine marking is more frequent during the time immediately before and while they are in heat. Many dogs continue to overmark the urine of other dogs especially in case of candid species; they tend to overmark the urine marking of subordinate breed dogs and species to show their dominance.
Dealing with dogs for more than twenty years, here are a few more reasons that, I can tell you, cause your dog to urine mark the roads as well as your house indoors;
Just as we mark our territories with the use of railings, fences, or by constructing walls around our properties; similarly, dogs tend to mark their territories by ‘urine marks’ which goes around any area of their yard or dog house.
Female in Heat
It is not just the male dogs, but the females too may indulge in marking their territory. Most of the females do not lift the leg, but they do involve in depositing urine on the horizontal surface over a road. This happens more frequently, before or during the days of heat. It is a typical behaviour seen in the bitches to mark their territory and to advertise that they are available for mating. Spayed females hardly show this particular behaviour except for when they are stressed.
Your dog may also pee when he is happy, and while jiggling and jumping, he may urinate on the floor. But, here is an important thing for you to notice, dogs who exhibit excitement urination do not reflect any submissive body language.
Out of Fear & Submission
You return home in the evening, as soon as you enter the house and begin to pet your little pup. He may flip on its back and urinate immediately in submission and out of fear to let you know that he loves you and he is not a threat and kind of requests you not to harm him. This is a common sight, I have seen this happening with all of my dogs; as and when they were brought into the house as pups. Though, this habit vanishes once dogs grow up and start gaining confidence in you and your house. However, submissive urination can take place during any age of the dog. But, remember one thing, if you scold your dog for submission peeing, he is likely to do it more out of fear. Submission by your dog is often reflected by different body postures such as rolling over, folding back of ears, tucking the tail, or flattened ears, etc.
New Addition in the Family
Other than urine marking on the road, your dog may also indulge in pee marking in your house. But this may happen only in exceptional situations. For instance, when a new dog becomes a part of your dog family and a new guest arrives for the first time, or when there is a new addition to the family, especially a baby, your dog might not be able to accept such additions in his environment. Thus, he targets the luggage of new guest, the blankets or cushions of the baby. Telling you from my experience; when my younger brother was born, my German Shepherd was so insecure seeing a baby’s addition in the family, that she used to either pick up my brother’s clothes and keep them between her legs or would pee over his baby pram while he used to be asleep. Her anxiety was visible from her personality change during initial days, until she was introduced to my baby brother properly.
Dogs peeing on Car Tires
The activity of male urine marking is observed more on the vertical surfaces as compared to the horizontal surfaces. Just as we, people in business, want our business cards to be placed at the eye level of prospective customers. Similarly, dogs prefer such surfaces which are approachable to other dogs. Thus, dogs indulge in urine marking on car tires, lamp posts, garbage tins, and even on the electric poles. Moreover, urine scent is bound to last long on such vertical surfaces as compared to the horizontal grounds. There may be another reason for it. A dog would be attracted to pee on the car tire where another dog of his pack has already marked. Thus, acknowledging the presence of another dog. That is why, when you take your dog out on a walk, he leaves his urine mark on almost all car tires.
Kicking Up Dirt
You must have seen your dog kicking up the dirt on the roadside after urine marking. In addition to his usual territorial marking, this is another way followed by your canine to draw the attention of other dogs towards his smell. Kicking off the dirt by dogs depicts their visual direction towards his urine marked area.
Handling Submissive Urination
Whether you are indoor or outdoor, submissive behaviour has no boundaries. Though dogs usually overcome this habit when they cross one year of age, however, if not trained properly, some dogs may continue to exhibit this behaviour throughout their lifespan, making it messy and unpleasant for you. Here are a few methods which you can try to train your dog to become confident about you and your family and thus, overcome the submissive urination:
- Greet your dog, as many times you pass him so that he feels comfortable and safe in your house.
- Feed him with few treats when he comes running to greet you.
- Rather than directly jumping over your dog and scaring him, when you return to your home in the evening, let him settle down, seeing your presence and then meet him calmly after a few minutes.
- Do not frown at your dog when he indulges in submissive urination.
- Do not pat over his head, this is one common mistake that dog owners make, which scares their dogs.
- Do not ever scold or punish your dog for submissive urination.
Treating Anxiety-Induced Urine Marking
Not all the times, but quite a few times, when our dog is distressed over something, he may continue to involve in urine marking at all possible places inside our house. This is the most common behaviour that I have experienced too. When my neighbour’s dachshund comes to my home, my oldest dachshund begins marking her territory by peeing, and hilariously, my neighbour’s dog does the same, be it any place, the sofa leg, a chair, or that specific table of my room. This all clearly shows that he does it to show his presence, whereas Hazel (my female dachshund) over marks to show her dominance. To avoid such circumstances, introduce your dog to the new member of your family, or any new guest that visits. However, be sure that you never scold him for this natural behaviour of his. Even if you catch him red-handed while urine marking, your yelling is never going to help, all because he/she is already distressed over the entry of someone new in his house, and he will, for sure, involve in more urine marking out of frustration.
Dogs indulge in urine marking not because they want to irritate you but because they feel the need to do so. Whether you scold him or beat him, he is still going to do it, because it’s a natural behaviour which the dogs exhibit. Besides, spaying or getting your dog neutered, there are few things which you may like to follow to prevent your dog from urine marking :
- When he indulges in the in-house marking, and you catch him red-handed, take him to that place and try to make him understand by pointing to the very point where he pee-marked. If you still see the same after some time and try to scold him for that, it shall be of no use.
- If he continues to mark the same area, again and again, be it inside your bedroom or any other place in your house, you may use a scented cleaner to get rid of the urine odour and also to prevent your dog from peeing there again.
Urine Marking is an intuitive exercise followed by dogs, however hard you try, he is still going to do it. Our dogs cannot speak, so naturally, when they sense something strange in their environment which is causing them some stress, they may continue to urine mark certain areas inside the house. Talking about your dog’s urine marking on the road, there is no stopping to this.