When you take your dog out to go pee, do you ever take note of their habits? Do they pee in particular places every time or is it a seemingly random location? Do they pee in different ways or places depending on the presence of other dogs? In all likelihood, these thoughts have hardly crossed your mind because, for us humans, peeing is just a means to an end. Urination provides us with relief and releases harmful or unneeded substances from the body, but it does little else.
Yet, peeing for other mammals can serve far more complicated purposes. While most people assume that dogs pee on or near things to mark their territory, it is quite difficult to absolutely confirm such an inference. Unfortunately, dogs do not have the ability to respond to us when we ask, “Excuse me sir, I see that you’ve peed on that bright red hydrant. Did you pee there for any particular reason?” What we do know is that peeing for dogs is not exclusively used to mark territory.
It is hypothesized that dogs also “scent-mark” objects to provide other dogs in the area with information about themselves, such as their reproductive status. Effectively it acts as a urinary message board for the dog. For example, dogs that are reproductively intact (unspayed or unneutered) or more likely to urine mark – sending out a kind of doggy singles ad. A study by Applied Animal Behavior Science found that the frequency of urination increases in male dogs when they are in the presence of female dogs, especially ones in heat. Urine marking also appears to be linked to scavenging behavior, which is the behavior that originally brought canines and humans in contact.
Sometimes dogs urinate when they encounter unfamiliar dogs or when they smell urine left behind by by others in their environment. Again, such acts could be chalked up to marking territory, or they could also be a means of communication with other dogs. Some dogs may simply urinate due to anxiety or stress. Through our continuous observations of dogs, we only hypothesize the intent behind their pee, but we certainly know that urination entails far more complicated nuances than every originally imagined.
Sources & Citations
Hart, Benjamin L. “Environmental and Hormonal Influences on Urine Marking Behavior in the Adult Male Dog 1.” ScienceDirect. Elsevier B.V., June 1974. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.
“Urine Marking by Free-ranging Dogs (Canis Familiaris) in Relation to Sex, Season, Place and Posture.”Applied Animal Behavior Science. Elsevier B.V., 2 Jan. 2003. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.
“Urinary Behavior of Female Domestic Dogs (Canis Familiaris): Influence of Reproductive Status, Location, and Age.” Applied Animal Behavior Science. Elsevier B.V., 25 Mar. 2004. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.