Why do dogs lift their legs to pee?

Why do dogs lift their legs to pee?

You may have come across an interesting video while surfing the Internet, in which a pug urinates while standing upside down. Although this is really interesting, it is actually one of 12 different elimination poses used by dogs when peeing.

Handstand, among some of the more popular options, such as the “lift” and “squat” postures, was documented in research on dog elimination patterns in the 1970s.

Traditionally, male dogs lift their legs to urinate and female dogs squat down. Since this is statistically correct, pet parents usually assume that any male who does not raise their legs or a female who does not squat down has behavioral or medical problems.

Let’s find out the reason behind the dog’s urge to lift his leg to pee.

Why do dogs lift their legs to urinate

So, what causes male dogs and even female dogs to raise their legs? Thankfully, science has given us the answer.

Dog Care Center - Why do dogs lift their legs to pee?

For male and female dogs, urination serves two different purposes: eliminating liquid waste and marking territory. Male dogs are more likely to leave scent marks, which causes them to occasionally prefer a raised leg position. Lifting your legs can make it easier to urinate on higher surfaces such as trees or fire hydrants and cover a larger area, which is stronger than the message left by urine on the ground.

Do all male dogs lift their legs to urinate?

Lifting or raising legs is not a natural habit of most puppies. Dr. Betty McGuire, who has a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University, wrote a research article in 2018 that studied the smell signatures of pets in shelters.

Studies have shown that male dogs have two main urination postures: the classic leg raising posture and the posture known as the juvenile tilt posture or “horse racing” posture.

Most male dogs start in a “lean” position, with their hind limbs on the ground, leaning forward and stretching their hind legs backwards.

As the male dog matures, he will lift his legs more and more when urinating. The sexual maturity of puppies usually starts around 6 months in small dogs, and can reach around 9 months in medium and large dogs. In some large dogs, it may take more than a year to occur.

However, you can affect how male dogs urinate. Usually, working dogs (such as guide dogs or bomb sniffer dogs) are trained not to mark their territory to avoid letting them urinate on surfaces where you don’t want them to urinate.

Even if you don’t have a working dog, if you want to keep the vertical surfaces around your home and yard clean, you can encourage your puppy not to lift his legs to pee. Keeping pups away from vertical surfaces when urinating helps prevent them from starting to lift their legs.

Why do some bitches lift their legs to pee?

Male dogs are not the only dogs that mark territory with urine. Odor markings are a common method of communication used by most mammals of both sexes.

In a paper on the urination habits of female dogs published in 2004, researchers found that the further away the female dogs are from home, the more likely they are to urinate frequently and aim their urine at objects. The same study found that female dogs have two prominent urination positions-the popular squat, and the combination of squatting and raising the legs, called “squatting.”

Therefore, although male dogs are more likely to mark their territory by urinating, it is not uncommon for female dogs to raise their legs to leave a message for the next puppy.

What if my male dog does not raise his leg to pee?

It is normal for male dogs to have multiple urination positions-raising their legs is just one of them. The urination posture they use depends on many factors, including their condition and even their breed. Most dogs have consolidated their preference for position in adulthood.

Dogs may also change their urination posture due to stress. In the shelter study conducted by Dr. McGuire, she observed that dogs in high-stress situations, such as those recently adopted, may return to a lean posture. Many dogs are also dexterous or bilateral in their posture, which means they will alternately raise their left or right leg.

If your male (or female) dog changes its urination posture, it may be a sign of a medical problem, such as joint pain or urinary tract problems. If your dog changes its urination position, take them to the vet to make sure there are no potential health problems.

Is it true that small dogs raise their legs higher when peeing?

Scent-marking in dogs, according to Dr. McGuire, communicates information about the dog, including their size and their potential competitive ability. In her study, she found that the smaller the dog, the more likely they were to raise their leg at a higher angle and therefore urinate higher on a vertical surface.

“It might be uniquely beneficial for small dogs to exaggerate their body size and competitive abilities through relatively high scent marks if this enables them to avoid direct conflict,” writes Dr. McGuire. “In contrast, large dogs, with greater competitive abilities, would have less incentive to avoid direct conflict.”

Therefore, little dogs are more likely to urinate higher on surfaces to present themselves as larger dogs and potentially tougher competitors. However your dog might choose to urinate, be mindful of their regular positioning and keep your veterinarian in the loop should anything change.

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