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Read your dog’s mind by watching how they pee?

August 10, 2020

If you are a dog parent, then you’ve probably spent a lot of time watching your furry friend’s daily peeing ritual. You know the drill: stopping every few steps while your pup sniffs around diligently, eventually deciding on a perfect spot to urinate. Can we reveal some insight into what’s going through their minds and their state of health?

A 1971 study looking at a sample of male and female beagles classified canine peeing positions into 12 categories. Which one does your fluffy one normally use?

Photo: Randall H. Sprague, and Joseph J. Anisko. “Elimination Patterns in the Laboratory Beagle.” Behaviour, vol. 47, no. 3/4, 1973, pp. 257–267. JSTOR

  1. Stand – Standing normally
  2. Lean – Body leaning forward with back legs extended back
  3. Raise – One hind leg is bent and foot is raised a little above the ground
  4. Elevate – One hind leg is raised high above the ground so hip is tilted
  5. Flex – Hind legs partially flexed so rear end is lowered slightly
  6. Squat – hind legs are straddled with the rear end close to the ground and the back straight
  7. Lean-raise – Body leaning forward while raising a foot
  8. Flex-raise – Flexing hind legs while raising a foot
  9. Handstand – Both hind legs are off the ground, either propped up against something or balanced on front paws
  10. Arch – Hind legs are partially spread so the rear end is lowered. The back is rounded and the tail is lifted up
  11. Squat-raise – Squatting while raising a foot
  12. Arch-raise – Arching while raising a foot

Why do boy dogs tend to raise their legs?  

The study findings support the assumption that male dogs raises a back leg when peeing while females tend to squat. In fact, 97% of male pups in the study used the elevated-leg position! Female dogs by comparison use a wider range of positions – 68% of the time used the squatting position and 19.3% using the squat-raise.

For dogs, peeing isn’t just simply peeing. Urine is also used for scent-marking, a way to mark their territory or simply to say, “Fluffy was here.” With the elevated-leg posture used mostly by male dogs, they can pee at a higher surface and leave a bigger mark as the urine flows down. Interestingly, the beagle study noted that a male dog was likely to pee at a spot where another male had recently relieved himself, suggesting that boy dogs see urine as a way to size each other up.

That’s not to say lady pups do not scent mark at all. A 2004 study of 12 female Jack Russell Terriers found that they used raised-leg postures more and peeing on objects more often when they’re in unfamiliar territory, potentially for the purpose of scent-marking.

Is a peeing position better than others?

Is it disorientating to see your dog doing a handstand while peeing? Don’t worry – any of the 12 peeing positions is totally fine, male or female. However, it’s worth investigating if your pup suddenly changes position in case it is due to a health issue. Another sign to watch out for is increased urination frequency, which can indicate anything from overheating to urinary tract infection.