Why Does Your Girl Dog Lift Her Leg To Pee? Female Marking 101

Why Your Girl Dog Lifts Her Leg“Get a female,” they said.

“Girls don’t mark,” they said.

Yeah, right.

One of the supposed perks of having a female dog is the fact that they generally don’t stop to mark trees on walks. Walking a boy can take forever because he’ll lift his leg and squeeze out just a few drops of pee at every tree, fence post and bush.

Most girls don’t mark their territory. But some do.

Matilda does.

And it’s kind of hilarious when she’s wearing a dress – she looks like a walking contradiction.

She’s not obsessive about marking, the way some dogs are – she’ll usually do it only a few times each walk.

Today, I’m going to find out why.

The Science Of Peeing Female Dogs

I have a few questions.

Does spaying affect marking?

Does personality affect marking?

Why do male dogs do it more often, and most females, never?

The Illusion Of Bigness

The physical act of lifting a leg allows your dog to pee higher.

To other dogs, a higher stain appears to have been made by a larger dog. 

In my research, female urine marking appears to be more common in small dogs, especially chihuahuas.

I’m thinking it’s about size insecurity. A little female doesn’t want other dogs knowing how tiny she is.

The Case Of The Peeing Jack Russell Terriers

I found an interesting study observing 6 spayed and 6 intact, not-in-heat Jack Russell terriers.

For both spayed and intact: around half the time they peed, they were marking. The older the dog, the more often she marked. They marked more often when they weren’t close to home. Spaying had no significant effect on how often the dogs marked, but dogs in heat do mark more to advertise the fact that they’re ready to mate.

Their peeing stances ranged from squat-lift (the most common amongst them), squat, arch-raise, combination and handstand.Why Female Dogs Lift Their Legs

Since this study only followed 12 dogs of the same breed, I feel the need to keep digging.

Avoiding The Butt-Sniffers

Another interesting motivation for dogs to mark – to avoid butt-sniffers.

Dogs were observed to step away and urinate as other dogs were sniffing their butts. The sniffers would then sniff the urine instead.

While they love sniffing, dogs don’t enjoy being sniffed. The close contact with strangers can be scary for them. Less-than-confident dogs probably feel awkward, probably the way lots of humans feel weird at parties.

Making a mark gives other dogs the opportunity to sniff and learn more about their new friend without overwhelming her.

How To Get Your Female Dog To Stop Marking

It’s normal and healthy for your female dog to want to mark.

But walks can be tedious if she’s stopping every few feet on your walks.

She might also be pulling on her leash to reach her desired canvas.

You should allow your female opportunities to mark at the beginning and end of your walk, and anytime when she’s hanging out in your backyard. It’s an important part of dog-to-dog communication. Dogs can learn a lot about each other from urine markings, even avoiding conflict by making a no-stress social connection.

If she’s marking excessively, and squeezing out a few drops because she’s running on empty, feel free to rush past her targets.

Tell her “leave it,” or call her name to get her attention, then use very light pressure on the leash if she doesn’t hurry along. (Use a harness if your dog is not fully leash-trained – even gentle reminder tugs can hurt her neck if you’re using a flat collar.)

Praise her for returning to your side. Speed up the walk, jog, and change directions to keep your walk interesting, and she won’t mind having fewer opportunities to mark.

Stop Your Dog From Lifting Her Leg In The House

You might be surprised to find your “potty-trained” dog marking inside your house.

She might suddenly begin marking because she has reached maturity, or even because she’s stressed. She may be using her urine to communicate her fears – she might be feeling insecure.

Be sure to clean up stains with an enzyme cleaner. Dogs return to their own scent to mark, so if you do not clean the stains correctly, she will keep peeing in the same spot. An enzyme cleaner is the only way I know of to make her stop. Bleach or regular carpet shampoos will not break down the enzymes that keep her coming back to the spot.

You can’t punish your dog for a urine stain you discover long after the act. You can only correct her when you catch her by interrupting her and taking her outside. You’ll need to watch her closely and restrict her freedom in your home until her behavior has changed.

Lifting A Leg To Poop

When we’re at the park, Matilda works extra hard to impress other parkgoers by lifting her leg to poop. She’s able to tack her poop onto a tree trunk or bush. It’s very impressive.

 

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