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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Copycat Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Every Time Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written by PB Getz
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 11/10/2017, edited: 01/08/2021