How to Train Your Dog to Lift His Leg to Pee

Hard
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

So, your male pup squats or simply stands when he pees rather than lifting his leg. While most male dogs tend to lift their leg instinctively, there are some that simply never seem to acquire this seemingly natural action. Bear in mind that in the wild, lifting a leg to pee has a specific purpose to a male dog--it allows him to pee on vertical surfaces to mark his territory with his own unique scent.

If you or a neighbor has a male dog that yours can watch when he pees, it is possible he may simply imitate what he sees in a "monkey see – monkey do" fashion. The good news is that with a little hard work and effort, you can train your dog to lift his leg when he pees. One thing to consider, if you have your pup neutered the instinct to lift his leg when he pees may be diminished. 

Defining Tasks

The reality is that not all male dogs lift their legs to pee, and for most, there's no real need to. But, if you want your pup to learn how to do so, it is a behavior that can be taught with plenty of time and patience. There are only a few ways to train your dog to behave this way, each of which is likely to take a few weeks to accomplish based on your pup's desire to learn and your dedication to training him. The most important thing to remember is that this is going to take some time and you need to be patient. 

Getting Started

You can start training your dog to lift his leg to pee at any age, but the earlier you start the less time it is likely to take because you are teaching him what should be an instinctive behavior. No matter which training method you decide to use, you will need a few things:

  • Treats: You need an ample supply for this training.
  • A quiet place: Training always goes better without distractions.
  • A friend with a male dog:  Sometimes you need another male dog for yours to copycat.

The rest is up to you; you need plenty of time and patience if you want this training to be successful. 

The Endless Treat Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Stock up
Stock up on a goodly supply of your pup's favorite treats. You will need plenty of them for this method, but it works very well.
Step
2
Come, stand
Call your dog to come to you and have him stand in front of you. Give him plenty of time to relax and become calm before moving on.
Step
3
Treats in hand
In one hand, place a large supply of your pup's favorite snacks and hold them in front of his nose. Let him smell them but not have any yet.
Step
4
Leg lifts
With one hand, lift one hind leg and start feeding him the treats. Keep feeding them to him slowly and allow him to get used to his leg being in the lifted position. You will know when this happens because he will start to relax.
Step
5
Repeat with command
Repeat the above until he associates the action with the treats and then introduce a command word along with the action. Repeat this until he will lift his leg to get the treat on command. Then move outside and continue the training.
Step
6
When he pees
Now put this training to work the next time your pup goes out to pee. As soon as you see him preparing to pee, give him the command to lift his leg. If he does, reward him with treats. You may have to do this for a few weeks before he will simply lift his leg each time he pees without the need for a command. Be patient and it will happen.
Recommend training method?

The Copycat Method

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Effective
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Step
1
A Helping friend
Find a friend or family member with a male dog who already knows how to lift his leg and pee. He should also be one that your dog is okay around.
Step
2
Schedule training sessions
Schedule daily training sessions where both of you can be there, plan for daily training for at least a week or maybe longer.
Step
3
Let them play together
During the training sessions, let the two dogs play together and be sure there is plenty of water. The idea here is for your pup to observe the other dog lifting his leg when he pees.
Step
4
Observe the action
Keep a close eye on your pup, especially when he pees. It may take several training sessions before he starts to mimic the action, but when he does be sure to immediately praise him and give him a treat.
Step
5
Keep an eye on him on his own
You need to keep an eye on him when he is on his own and try to catch him when starts to lift his leg to pee. This is the time to give him heavy praise and lots of treats to encourage the behavior. Be patient, this is going to take some time, but the end result will be that he will eventually learn to lift his leg every time he pees.
Recommend training method?

The Every Time Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
A bag of treats
Grab a bag of your pup's favorite treats, you will need them to reward him every time he even looks like he might lift his leg.
Step
2
A quiet place to work
Find a quiet time of the day to work with your pup. You need to take him outside and stay with him frequently.
Step
3
Observe and reward
While your dog may not raise his leg all the way when he pees, he may try or at least look like he might. Every time he does, you need to be there with plenty of praise and treats. The idea is to reward him for it and encourage the behavior.
Step
4
Rewards get results
You might even try gently lifting his leg as he is peeing (if he will let you) and encourage him to keep his leg up using praise and treats.
Step
5
Rinse, repeat, and wait
From this point, the rest of the training is all about repeating the process until your pup will finally associate lifting his leg to pee with praise and a treat. In time, he will instinctively lift his leg to pee. Mission accomplished.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Kobe
pitbull
4 Months
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Question
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Kobe
pitbull
4 Months

We want to start training our puppy to go outside to use the bathroom. But first we want him to start using the pads indoors for when we’re not home so he doesn’t have to hold it. I. The beginning of his training he would use the bathroom on the pad but now he doesn’t. He just sits on the floor and pees all over his paws or poops on himself. How do I train him to use the pad?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty pad. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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Question
Mateo
Standard Poodle
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Mateo
Standard Poodle
11 Months

He does not lift his let to pee and consequently, his front legs are soaked and stained. Sometimes, he 'almost' lifts a leg, but then just squats-

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jahne, First, know that this is something most dogs eventually figure out on their own. As male dogs mature sexually they will often switch from squatting to leg lifting, and during the transition period they can be uncoordinated and awkward until they get the hang of it. Many dogs learn this when they are a bit younger than your dog, but even my own dog didn't start learning it until after 1 year. There are three approaches you can try for this to help speed up the process. First, you can try spraying a potty encouraging spray on the trees, at the height you want pup to go potty at - giving them a target to aim for via scent, like another dog's urine on a tree. This will still take pup some practice though since it's muscle coordination they need to gain through practice, but it could encourage pup to practice and gain better coordination. Second, you can give it some time and walk pup places where other dog's frequent, and are likely to have peed on trees in the area. Being around other males and their markings can encourage pup to want to mark the way they do. It will still take pup some practice though. Third, you can help pup develop the muscles needed to lift higher by teaching a leg lifting trick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DU3zecEZCk To do this, tap the bag of pup's paw and praise and reward as soon as they move the paw at all - don't expect lifting just any movement at first. Keep practicing this until pup get to the point where they will consistently lift when you tap, in anticipation of getting a treat for it. Next, continue practicing but as pup improves, require pup to lift the paw slightly higher in order to earn a treat. Practice for a couple of weeks until pup can lift the leg up all the way to earn their treat. If needed, hover your hand under their lifted paw for them to use as a touch point if they struggle to stay balanced while holding it in the air while first learning this Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucky
Mixed
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lucky
Mixed
3 Years

Recently Lucky has been peeing in a way that causes him pee all over his belly and his legs. When he pees he does a lean stance. But he dose this stance so low that he’s almost laying down. Now everytime he pee, I need to wash the yellow stains off his fur and genitals. How do I get him to pee a better way?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Skye, I not quite sure what the position you are describing looks like, but guessing you need pup to lift their leg higher to fix the issue? There are three approaches you can try for this. First, you can try spraying a potty encouraging spray on the trees, at the height you want pup to go potty at - giving them a target to aim for via scent, like another dog's urine on a tree. This will still take pup some practice though since it's muscle coordination they need to gain through practice, but it could encourage pup to practice and gain better coordination. Second, you can give it some time and walk pup places where other dog's freqent, and are likely to have peed on trees in the area. Being around other males and their markings can encourage pup to want to mark the way they do. It will still take pup some practice though. Many male dogs, when they first start lifting their leg to pee, are uncoordinated in the beginning and get better at balancing and doing it as they try. Third, you can help pup develop the muscles needed to lift higher by teaching a leg lifting trick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DU3zecEZCk To do this, tap the bag of pup's paw and praise and reward as soon as they move the paw at all - don't expect lifting just any movement. Keep practicing this until pup will consistently lift when you tap, in anticipation of getting a treat for it. Next, continue practicing but as pup improves, require pup to lift the paw slightly high in order to earn a treat. Practice for a couple of weeks until pup can lift the leg up all the way to earn their treat. If needed, hover your hand under their lifted paw if they struggle to stay balanced while first learning this Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Aramis
Lablador
15 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Aramis
Lablador
15 Months

My dog is 15 months old and we really want to train him to lift his leg up when he pees also he is a małe how long will it take and will it to very hard to train to do and also what do i need to do to make him do it ?

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Question
Scooby
German Shepherd
1 Year
-1 found helpful
Question
-1 found helpful
Scooby
German Shepherd
1 Year

He is not lifting his leg for pee. How to train him?

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