Why Dogs Lift Their Legs to Urinate

Renowned veterinarian Dr. Mart Becker likened a dog’s leg lifting to the Rockettes of New York City Radio City Music Hall fame. But they (the dogs) wouldn’t make a very attractive chorus line.

Most male dogs do lift their leg to urinate, but some females do too. Intact female dogs will sometimes lift their leg to urinate indicating to any and all male dogs that they are prepared to mate. Males may begin leg lifting as early as 4 months old but usually start at about 6 months to a year old. Some males, especially those that are neutered early in life never practice leg lifting.

Some leg lifters can appear quite comical. Small dogs especially look like they’re doing handstands when lifting their leg.

Dogs do not have to life their leg to urinate. This behavior is part of the ways dogs communicate with each other.

As animals that once lived in packs, it is believed that each pack marked out its territory, leaving their scent. In this way other packs were able to avoid confrontations. Their incredible sense of smell told them that this territory was already occupied and was off limits.

Some dogs (and I have one of these), urinate over another dog’s scent. This may mean that they are letting everyone know that “I was here too.”

So if your male dog squats or your female dog lifts her leg, it’s perfectly normal behavior.

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