The Low Down On Leg Lifting

August 31st, 2008 by Dan

Leg lifting is a dog behavior that I am so often questioned about, that I decided it deserved its own post.

Dogs lift their legs to mark their scent on vertical surfaces. The goal? To hike their mark as high as it can go, showing that they are the “bigger” dog – thus leaving a more impressive scent marker for all the other dogs that pass. I’ve even heard of a case where a Basenji would run up a tree peeing as it ran. Mind you, I never saw this. However, if you know Basenjis, you wouldn’t put it past them!

Photo by iMinerva

Male dogs usually start lifting their legs somewhere between 6 – 12 months of age. If your male dog hasn’t started lifting his leg at this point- there isn’t anything wrong with him! Some dogs never lift their legs. As for the “early lifters” – generally speaking, the earlier a dog starts exhibiting this behavior, the more assertive and dominant he may be. If your puppy begins lifting his leg before 6 months of age, a neuter is a good step to take – asap – and you may want to enlist the help of a behaviorist as well.

Male dogs aren’t the only dogs in the park who will lift their legs – occasionally female dogs will also lift their legs to mark their territory. This is also a perfectly normal behavior and does not need to be discouraged.

3 Responses to “The Low Down On Leg Lifting”

  1. joyce Says:

    I have a seven month old lab mix puppy and he will not come when called and leaves the yard and will not come back. I am concerned about him getting hit by a car. Is he too young to use a shock collar on? I am disabled and not able to take him to obedience school at this time.

  2. Fran Says:

    My Boykin Spaniel was 10 mos. old and unneutered B-4 I got him. I had him neutered when he was about a year, I think. He is now 3 and lifts his leg on 2 neighborhood females as well as their owners. He’s pretty indiscriminate where, when or on whom he “selects” to “honor”. Needless to say, this is MOST undesirable behavior. Please help! with what I can do 2 stop it! Thank you.

  3. babyc Says:

    I have a 8 month old pit bull he is a really gud dog! The problem im worried bout is I also hve a 10 hr old mixed Boston terrior / wht eva lol any way they play fight all the time ok thts cool wit me but my lil dog smokie he tears my pit boss up buddy leaves bite marks n everything im scared tht one day my pit boss is gonna turn on smokie n really hurt him? I try. Not to really let them play fight cause im scared of tht! I mean im hoping tht since I raised him as a puppy he won’t turn on him! Any suggestions on wht I could do?

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