You’re out for a walk with your dog and you both notice an expensive car parked on the street. Your eyes focus on the color, its shine, the leather seats, the high-tech dashboard, and the sunroof. Your dog, on the other hand, is sniffing at the tires. He’s doing a full circle around them, rubbing his nose right up against it. As you notice someone approaching, possibly the owner, you see Fido peeing all over the tires. You would never desecrate such a beautiful car, but why would your dog? You rush Fido off and hope the possible owner didn’t see any of it.
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The Root of the Behavior
Chances are, your dog has tried to pee on many different surfaces. Dogs want to contribute to the conversation and by peeing on stuff, they say, “I was here.” Dogs pee to mark their territory and tires are a prime marking spot.
For humans, when a dog pees on an expensive car’s tire, we worry what the owner will think. But for a dog, this is prime peeing real estate and he is just being friendly and leaving his mark. Urine shares a lot of info with dogs and a dog can learn a lot from another’s mark. A dog can determine the gender and if they’re spayed or neutered. He can also distinguish if a female is in heat, which might prompt a more enthusiastic walk where he follows his nose. A mark can indicate if a dog is healthy or if he’s stressed. It can also indicate if the dog is an adult or a puppy. That’s a lot of info for a dog to get through his nose, and a tire has a ton of this type of info.
Your dog loves to sniff the tire because it contains scents from all over. The tire could have been on grass, run over roadkill, in a huge puddle, or dogs from other neighborhoods could have also left their calling card. A tire is a smorgasbord of scents and your dog is just joining a party for a dog’s senses.
Dogs prefer to pee on things that are vertical, like poles, fire hydrants, and tire wheels. When dogs pee on a vertical object, they’re putting their mark at nose level, which is much better than the ground. Leaving their mark this way communicates many things, but also how big the dog is. A vertical object will also hold a scent longer than the ground. A pee puddle in the grass will fade faster than a vertical object, like a tire.
Encouraging the Behavior
Dogs peeing on car tires might not seem like a big deal for a dog owner. Dog owners have seen much bigger messes on much harder things to wash, like a strong message on the carpet or in your shoe. While urine will get washed off a car tire in the rain and the owner may not even notice it, this doesn’t mean the car owner won’t become upset if he watches Fido pees on his tires. Unless all the dogs pee on the same tire, all day, every day, the chances of it ruining a tire are slim. If it gets to the point of a frustrated car owner, there are cat and dog repellent sprays to keep animals away from tires, poles, trash cans, etc.
However, telling the car owner that might be a tough conversation and not the best one to have. If your dog tends to go for the tires, you can take control of the walk and steer him away from the major communication hub. To do that make sure you’re walking appropriately with your dog. A good walk includes you walking in front or next to him, keeping a short leash so you have control, and making sure he wears the right harness or collar. If you follow these basics, you can keep your dog away from the cars and prevent him from peeing on tires.
Other Solutions and Considerations
In general, most people won’t mind a dog peeing on their tire now and then. But if it becomes a problem, you’ll have to work with your dog to prevent this behavior. There are clear lines when you’re housetraining a dog. Inside is no, outside is go. However, he’s outside and you might tell him no? Well, that’s confusing. And not allowing Fido to leave his mark on the smorgasbord of tire smells is like taking you to a party, but not being able to talk to anyone. Alone, in the center of the room, unable to participate. Talk to a trainer about how to handle this situation. Find out how Fido can join in the conversation, but still respect other’s property.
The way you see a car and your dog sees a car are entirely different, but you are both picking up signals. If the car is nice enough, your dog is cute enough, and you stick around for a few minutes, you might be able to strike up a conversation with the car owner. It’s possible he looks quite fetching. Your dog has said his piece, so you can say yours.