Some male dogs learn to lift their legs to urinate instinctively, or by watching other dogs in their social group. However, some dogs appear to not acquire the skill through normal means. A dog lifts its leg to pee in order to make the act of urination a multipurpose one. The release of bodily waste is important, but the dog is also marking its territory with its unique scent. The leg-lift maneuver allows the dog to get its scent on a vertical object so that other dogs who walk by will smell that the territory has been claimed.
Avoid neutering the dog at a young age. The instinct to lift the leg may not develop normally in a neutered dog.
Praise the dog whenever it lifts its leg to pee. Positive reinforcement is the most valuable training tool for any dog behavior.
Allow your dog to socialize with another male dog that lifts its leg to mark territory. The competitive instinct and example from the other dog should help propel your dog to do the same.
Train the dog to lift its leg simply by lifting it up yourself with a command, and then rewarding the dog with its favorite treat. Once it lifts the leg on command, start to issue the command when it is going to the bathroom to try and connect the two impulses in its mind.
- Keep a handful of your dog's favorite treats in your pocket when you take it for a walk. That way, you're ready at all times to offer a tasty reward if your dog stops to relieve itself and lifts its leg to do so.
- Ensure that you only try to train your dog to pee with a lifted leg out of doors. You don't want to positively reinforce a leg-lifting behavior when it is indoors, or it may start to mark its territory inside the house. The dog will subsequently get very confused when you get mad or scold it for doing what it thinks you trained it to do.
- Pet Education.com: Why do Dogs Lift Their Legs to Urinate?
- West Highland White Terrier Club of America: Little Boys (And Sometimes Girls) Who Lift Their Legs Indoors
- Sit Means Sit Dog Training; Dog Tricks! - Teaching a Dog to Lift His Leg on Command; September 2010
- The Humane Society of the United States; Dogs: Positive Reinforcement Training; October 2009
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