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Why do dogs lift their feet when peeing?

Updated on February 18, 2012

The dog’s feet lifting behavior

 Most animals are territorial. They make it a point to mark their territories to let other animals of their kind know that the area was already taken. Bears make scratching marks on trees, the higher the better, to announce to other bears that the area was already taken. Dogs lift their feet to make high urine marks for the same purpose. The feet lifting to pee is also a dominance issue. Female dogs seldom lift their feet to urinate. A female dog would just squat on the ground and let go a stream of urine. Older dogs teach puppies how to do it and at the age of 6 months most male puppies can lift a foot to pee. Some dog owners though have noted that their male dogs never learned to lift their feet and would urinate just like female dogs do-by squatting on the ground to do their business.

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A dog’s territory

 Dogs are territorial creatures. They need to mark their claimed territories. For dogs, marking the territory is very necessary so that other dogs would not infringe on the claimed territory. Territorial marking is done with the dog’s urine. When a dog pees, along with the urine the dog’s distinct and individual scent is released from the body. When you take your dog for a walk you will notice that the dog would stop now and then to sniff. The dog is actually “reading” the age, the sex and the stature of the dog that has made another urine mark.

The message board

Male dogs usually pee on vertical surfaces. This can be a lamppost, a wall, a fire hydrant. A dog that has the highest urine mark is considered to be the dominant dog. The dog will be perceived by other dogs as a big strong dog and has the potential to be the alpha dog. This is the reason why dogs would lift their feet when peeing. They need to do their best to make the highest urine mark. The vertical surface with the urine marks became the message board. Female dogs rarely lift their feet to pee but some are noted to have made their urine marks. Its either the female is a dominant dog or one that advertises to other dogs her availability to be mated. Dogs that perceived a threat would also use urine marks. Territory marking is noted to build a dog’s self confidence.


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      brooke 9 years ago

      wowowowowow my cousins dog is a male cocker spaniel and he squats like a female dog.

      its so funny!!!