At one time or another we have all watched our dogs pee and, if you’re like me, have wondered why it takes forever for a dog to decide what is so special about the bush, or a specific grassy area, they choose to pee on versus all the other bushes or grass? Because we, as humans, generally only pee for two reasons: 1) because we have “to go” or 2) because we’ve been asked to give a sample, it seems mystifying to us that dogs will take such careful consideration of where to eliminate. There must be something behind this, I hear you say. And you would be correct. Dogs, both male and female, like to leave their “mark” in order to communicate to other dogs. Because a dog’s ability to smell is so good, by sniffing another dog’s pee they are able to determine such things as whether a female dog is “in heat”, whether another dog has been spayed or neutered, what is the dog’s stress level and, depending on the height of the marking, what the dog’s social status is. So it’s not so much that size matters, rather how high the marking has been made. You may have seen a small dog doing what appears to be acrobatics on a post or fire hydrant: height matters if you’re trying to communicate a higher ranking in the pack! Dogs also prefer using a vertical structure to mark as the scent will last longer compared to using, say, a flat grassy area where the scent will likely dissipate into the ground quicker.
Another activity that occurs after a dog has peed (or pooped), is the act of kicking out the hind legs. This is a ritual that has its roots back in history prior to domestication but is still part of a dog’s DNA today. The dog is marking the spot by leaving a scent, excreted through glands in the paws, to tell other dogs “this is my territory”. Although largely irrelevant for today’s domesticated dogs, it was very relevant back in the day when dogs would have to fend for themselves.
On a medical note, the colour of your dog’s pee is a good indicator of his or her health. The colour you want to see is straw or pale yellow: the intensity of yellow will largely be determined by how well hydrated your dog is, the same as applies to humans. Looking at the colour spectrum, if the pee is orange that could indicate severe dehydration or a medical issue associated with the liver, gallbladder or pancreas, amongst others. Any red, pink, brown or black pee indicates a need for blood and urine tests to be performed immediately as there are likely serious issues that need to be addressed.
So as you sit on your “throne” you may want to appreciate how easy us humans have it compared to our canine friends who, daily, have to search for the ultimate peeing spot outside!