Why Does a Male Dog Lift His Leg to Pee?

by Tom Ryan
He lifts his leg so he can "go" on a vertical surface.

He lifts his leg so he can "go" on a vertical surface.

Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

Male dogs lift a single leg to pee because they do it with a purpose other than just relieving themselves. Male dogs use their urine to communicate; when they lift a leg to pee, they can more accurately deposit it on the surface of their choosing. Like a business card pinned to a public bulletin board, the urine is readily noticeable to other dogs.

Reasons for Lifting

A male dog's urine is laced with communicative hormones, so when he pees, he isn't just going to the bathroom -- he's leaving a message. For an intact dog, that message is communicating his virility to females in the neighborhood. For a neutered dog, the purpose is a more generalized form of territorial marking. In either case, the male prefers to urinate on vertical surfaces like walls, telephone poles and fire hydrants. Sometimes females engage in urine-marking behavior, lifting a rear leg to pee, as well.

Photo Credits

  • Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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