Every dog owner has seen their dog pee on something. From fire hydrants to other dogs, whenever your canine companion is given the chance he seems to "let it fly". While this is obviously a normal and natural component of any animal, it can be challenging and sometimes frustrating to try and understand or control where your dog tends to pee. No dog owner wants their possessions ruined by an out of control pee machine. So what causes this behavior? And why the heck do they seem to love peeing on trees so much? Outlined below are some of the strongest opinions given by modern animal professionals.
The Root of the Behavior
So, the first and most common reason for this behavior is scenting. Dogs have an evolutionary urge to mark things with their own scent. This was historically so that other animals in the area know that this is your dog's territory. This instinct for marking is especially strong in dogs that haven't been neutered or spayed. A male canine will always try and mark an area if there's a female dog in heat, even if they aren't in the same immediate vicinity. If you've been raising your dog from a puppy, these behaviors don't really come to fruition until they’ve reach adulthood. A more specific type of urine marking is called overmarking. This happens when your dog smells the scent marker of another dog or animal. They deposit a small amount of urine on top of the previous scent. In canines, this is specifically to mark the original scenter as subordinate to themselves, thus elevating their status in the pack.
Generally, dogs will engage in dominance marking when they're on walks or outside. Normally, they shouldn't be marking things inside of your home. If your dog is female and they start to pee in random places indoors, this could be because they're coming into heat. Female dogs that are going through a pregnancy have their hormones shocked into overdrive. Oftentimes this can result in their "wires being crossed" so that they perceive marking scents within your home. Naturally, they are shocked when they smell this and move to overmark it immediately. It's entirely possible that your dog just tends to get really excited or scared as well. Intense emotions of any type can trigger urination in canines, and generally you'll see the peeing happen during or close to a display of submissive behaviors. Look out for things like cowering, flattened ears, or a refusal to look at you at all. Submissive urination is always a sign of additional problems.
Encouraging the Behavior
Did you adopt your dog, and he's always just peed wherever he wanted to? It's entirely possible that he was never housetrained to begin with. This is especially true with dogs that grew up in primarily outdoor conditions, and are only now acclimatizing to being a house trained animal. With enough time and patience, this is a situation that can be easily remedied. Medical conditions can also make your dog lose control of his ability to urinate. More often than not, urinary tract infections are to blame for this particular problem. An additional indicator here is if your dog can't seem to stop licking his genitalia. UTIs are frequently experienced with burning and itching, which your dog will be attempting to solve. So, time to get down to the nitty gritty. Why do dogs like to pee on trees so much? Turns out this also has to do with scenting and marking of a particular territory. When a canine is scenting a specific object, his intention is to get the mark as high on an object as possible, so that it's close to "nose" level. A higher distribution will also spread the sent further than when it's just on the ground, ensuring that other animals will notice it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
So what can you do if your dog's peeing is just out of control? One great idea is restricting access to the places or items that your dog enjoys marking. If they aren't marking specific places, try to find out if maybe seeing another dog or animal is provoking this behavior. A great alternative for an excitable dog is something called a belly band. These are basically like underwear for your dog. They're designed to be absorbent, and are generally very comfortable for your dog to wear. They can be thrown into the wash just like any other type of soiled clothing, and are available at most pet shops.
So, it’s clearly not an issue for your dog to pee on trees. In fact, the effort he makes to get his mark higher is just a sign of a healthy, happy animal. If it really becomes a problem, you can always invest in bitter sprays to help keep your dog away from unwanted plants. Don’t invite the neighbor dogs, however, or you might find that tree’s a crowd!