Why do dogs lift their legs to urinate?
The first reason for dogs lifting their leg to pee is a practical one. As the dogs penis is on their underside, urinating without lifting their leg can lead the dog to urinating on their own legs and paws. Female dogs prevent this from happening by crouching down to urinate. Male puppies will do the same before they start to raise their leg to pee. Adult male dogs find simply lifting their leg to be the easiest way to pee without interfering with their hygiene.
The stance a puppy uses to pee is sometimes referred to as the ‘juvenile lean’ (see photo below). This is when the puppy extends their body forward, but keeps their hind legs reached out behind with both back paws flat on the ground. This helps avoid urination on themselves before they learn to lift their leg.
Lifting the leg to pee is not only useful for relieving themselves in a hygienic fashion. The action is also a valuable tool for marking territory. When a dog reaches sexual maturity, they will start to enact certain behavioral changes. Their hormones are telling them they need to copulate, so they start to become more territorial. When we keep an unneutered male dog at home, they dont have the same opportunities to meet females.
When we do take the dog out for a walk, you will likely see them make many stops to urinate in small amounts. In doing so, they are leaving pheromones for female dogs to show they are ready to mate and for other male dogs to tell them to stay away. By lifting their leg, they can angle the stream of urine on higher spots on walls and other surfaces. Since this is at nose height for other dogs, they will be more easily able to smell their scent. Female dogs will also mark, but not to the same degree or for the same purpose.
Generally speaking, dogs begin to produce and secrete sexual hormones from the age of about 6 months. This coincides with the time they reach sexual maturity and start raising their leg to pee.
At what age do dogs lift their paws to pee?
There are various factors which will influence the time when a dog will lift their leg to urinate or mark. This can be due to their genetic inheritance, health and even breed type. We can say that dogs of similar sizes start to lift their leg to pee around the same time. This can be summarized below:
Why do male dogs lift their legs?
All canines use urine to mark their territory, but some do it more than others. All male dogs, big and small, raise their leg to pee or scent-mark much more frequently in the fall than in the summer, likely because it is mating season.
How to Teach a Male Dog to Lift His Leg to Pee
Male dogs start lifting their leg to urinate when they are approximately 6-12 months old. Both neutered and non-neutered dogs will lift their legs, but it is more common for a neutered dog to squat.