Why Do Dogs Lift Their Leg to Pee?

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If you own a dog, you have plenty of time to think about their bathroom habits. This is because you are usually the one who stands idly by while going about their business.

With all this time to think, you’ve probably wondered why dogs so often raise their leg to urinate even though it’s not anatomically necessary. (Dogs can squat and pee without any problem.) So why would they do that? Why do dogs raise their leg to urinate?

The answer has a lot to do with how the canines communicate with each other. You might (correctly) assume that dogs see urination as a way to “mark” their territory. This is true, but what is important is how the labels are placed. By raising the leg, the dog can better direct the urine flow to a vertical surface where the smell remains. If the dog squats or extends its hind legs back (known as the “racehorse stance”), the urine will be directed toward the ground and absorbed into the soil. It’s the equivalent of a dropped call.

Small dogs find leg elevation particularly helpful. By spraying upwards, they are indicating that they are larger than they actually are. It’s a bit of a dog trick to help ward off larger dogs that might perceive their territory as being occupied by an easy target.

Many male dogs begin in racehorse poses, and then move on to leg raises once they reach puberty. It is also not an exclusively male domain. Female dogs will mark the territory, although they may benefit from a hybrid “squat lift” that does not spray urine highly.

Dog urine is full of information for other dogs, and conveys details about health, gender and even stress levels, so it is important that they get it right.

[h/t Pet Place]


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