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What do dogs smell for before they pee?

Urine Marking in Dogs

Both male and female dogs urine mark. Urine marking can happen when dogs are on walks, while at home, and visiting new locations.

Dogs can begin urine marking at three months old. Some dogs urinate on objects while raising a leg to leave a message to other dogs. Other times, dogs may urine mark for medical or other reasons.

Reasons Dogs Urine Mark

You should consult a veterinarian before treating a dog for urine marking. Dogs typically urine mark for specific reasons, such as:

Reproductively intact dog. Unneutered males and unspayed females are more likely to urine mark.

Female dogs’ marking occurs slightly before and while they’re in heat. The behavior is not typical for neutered or spayed dogs.

Environmental changes. If a new dog appears, the resident dogs may urine mark to indicate their territory.

A dog’s environment comprises the home, route taken while on walks, the yards visited, familiar locations, and parks. When your dog’s environment changes, they might feel the need to mark their territory.

Social stimulation. Some male dogs urine mark when they encounter females.

Other dogs urine mark when they come close to homes other dogs visit. Some social situations, such as a rival dog nearby, can cause a dog to become overstimulated, resulting in urine marking.

Anxiety. When dogs become anxious, they may deposit more urine than dogs marking for a different purpose. Some things that can trigger a dog’s anxiety are:

  • Conflict between a dog and people
  • Loud noises
  • New people in the home
  • A person leaving the dog’s home

Medical Causes of Urine Marking

Urinary tract infection. A dog with a urinary tract infection can frequently pass small amounts of urine. The dog may also excessively lick their genitalia.

Involuntary urination. Some dogs experience urinary incontinence, where the dog’s bladder becomes faulty and involuntarily passes urine. Dogs with this condition may urinate while asleep without being aware they are doing so.

Medical complications. Something that isn’t common may cause urine marking, such as genitalia abnormalities. The abnormality can cause incontinence, which leads to frequent urination.

Other Urination Problems

Your dog might also urinate during greetings, play sessions, punishment, or physical contact. Not all of these instances will be urine marking, some will just be accidents.

Excitement. Your dog may also cower, duck their head, and flatten their ears when excited. You may also notice the dog avert their eyes or roll onto their belly as they display submissive postures.

Lack of indoor training.Proper house training ensures your dog doesn’t soil your home. Your dog may soil in specific places like infrequently used rooms or on furniture. Some dogs defecate or urinate in the house or other familiar locations.

Separation anxiety. If you leave your dog for a while, he may experience detachment or separation anxiety. Your dog may become nervous before or after you have left and urinate indoors.

How to Stop a Dog From Urine Marking

Urine marking can be a normal form of communication in dogs. However, if you are concerned that your dog needs specialized treatment, consider the following options:

Spay or neuter your dog. This can reduce household urine marking by 50 to 60 percent. If you don’t want to spay or neuter, you can try the suggestions below for reducing social and environmental triggers.

Treatment for environmental changes and social stimulation. If your dog is urine marking due to new things in their environment, you can try the following:

  • Keep your dog away from things he is likely to mark. Restrict other dogs from visiting your home.
  • Try a dog diaper or belly band as a temporary fix. This can be especially helpful when visiting new homes.
  • Clean the previously marked areas with enzymatic cleaners. This can reduce smells that may cause your dog to urine mark the same area again.
  • If your dog marks specific objects like suitcases or certain locations like unused rooms, place treats and food around these points. This can teach your dog to associate the positive item with the object being marked, which can gradually change their behavior.
  • Distract your dog with a different urine marking target. This target could be a tree trunk or another dog’s urine.

Treatment for anxiety-induced urine marking. You can help reduce your dog’s anxiety by the following methods:

  • Reduce conflicts between your dog and other pets. You can separate your dog from others and supervise reintroduction. If the conflict stems from a new pet, introduce your dog slowly.
  • When new people join your home, introduce them to your dog. The new members may share some moments with your dog, like taking a walk or serving your dog food.

Consult your veterinarian on the various medications that can supplement behavior modification. Certain medications may reduce anxiety among dogs, resulting in less urine marking.

What to Avoid

You can also change the way you behave when your dog does urine marking. Do the following:

  • Avoid scolding your dog. If you yell at your dog or punish them, behavior change is less likely to work out. They will only remember feeling bad and not connect the scolding with the urine marking.
  • Don’t discourage your dog from urine marking during walks. This may cause the dog to begin marking at home.
  • Don’t use an ammonia-based cleaner to wash the marked areas. Since urine contains ammonia, it may attract the dog back to the same location.

Show Sources

American Kennel Club: “Curbing the Issue of Dog Marking,” Why Does my Female Dog Mark?”

AKC Reunite: “Housetraining: Tips for Preventing Accidents.”

Behavioral Biology: “Environmental and hormonal influences on urine marking behavior in the adult male dog.”

Journal of Zoology: “Urine marking in male domestic dogs: honest or dishonest?”

Progressive Animal Welfare Society: “Separation Anxiety.”

The Humane Society of the United States: “Urine-marking behavior: How to prevent it.”

The Veterinary Nurse: “An update on the risks and benefits of neutering in dogs.”

Sequoia Humane Society: “How to Prevent Urine Marking Behaviors.”

VCA Hospitals: “Dog Behavior Problems Marking Behavior.”

Veterinary Medicine: “Urine Marking in Dogs.”

Why do dogs sniff before they pee?

When your dog sniffs before pooping or peeing, they are checking for scent marking from other dogs. So, if you have wondered why do dogs sniff the ground on walks, the answer is that they are using their instincts for safety and information.

Do dogs sniff the ground before they poop?

One answer is that it boils down to territory marking and communication through scent. Dogs’ strongest sense is their sense of smell, and they learn a lot about the other dogs in the neighborhood by sniffing around before potty.

What do dogs do before they pee?

Circling Before Release Explained

According to, the theory of this behavior of circling is your dog preparing for potty time. The movement encourages “a fast and smooth elimination experience”.

Why do dogs smell their pee after they pee?

When your dog goes to the bathroom, they are releasing toxins from their body, but they are also releasing information. When your dog goes to smell their own urine, they are looking to see what message their urine left on the spot they just marked.

Why do dogs smell your private parts?

Key takeaway. Dogs sniff people’s crotches because of the sweat glands, also known as apocrine glands, that are located there. Sniffing these glands gives a dog information about a person such as their age, sex, mood, and mating probability.

Why Do Dogs Take Forever To Pick A Spot To Poop?

Can dogs smell period blood?

It turns out that both cats and dogs are able to detect menstruation by odor and hormonal levels. Of course, they don’t actually have any scientific concept of what’s happening in your uterus, but they do know that something is going on.

Can dogs smell your arousal?

They can trigger all kinds of behavior, sexual and not. Your dog, with their super-sensing nose, can certainly smell the pheromones your body is giving off, and often, they’re game to investigate. This means they can stick their noses in places they certainly don’t belong.

Do dogs recognize human urine?

Not only are dogs able to smell human pee, but they can detect specific scent notes within the urine. Thus, they can pick up the smell of hormones, sugar, and things like if the person has an infection or not. This amazing ability is down to the super-sensitive nature of the canine sense of smell.

Why do dogs lick you?

Licking is a natural and instinctive behaviour to dogs. For them it’s a way of grooming, bonding, and expressing themselves. Your dog may lick you to say they love you, to get your attention, to help soothe themselves if they’re stressed, to show empathy or because you taste good to them!

How do dogs pick where they poop?

Dogs use the Earth’s magnetic field when they’re relieving themselves. Not only that, but canines choose to do so in a north-south axis, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology says. The study suggests that dogs are sensitive to small variations in Earth’s magnetic field.

Do dogs feel the need to pee?

Initially, a dog feels the need to urinate when their bladder is half-full. The body senses the swelling of the bladder and informs the dog that it’s ready to be relieved. A dog may start to show signs of needing to go before it is vital that they go.

How many hours in between do dogs pee?

How often does a dog need to pee? To put it simply, adult dogs generally need to toilet three to five times a day, and most vets will recommend a maximum window of between six to eight hours between toilet trips.

Why do dogs go around in circles before they poop?

Dr. Bekoff says dogs may circle in attempts to get good footing or to be sure they can see who’s around when they’re in the act, which is a somewhat compromised position. Circling could also be linked to the dog’s attempt to spread their scent, says Dr.

Why do dogs kick after they poop?

By kicking up dirt afterward, they’re compounding the scent of the bathroom along with the pheromones coming from their feet glands to create one strong scent. In addition, the disturbed grass also serves as a visual clue to other dogs that they’re walking on someone else’s territory.

Do dogs look at their owners when they poop?

You’d think she’d look away in hopes of getting a little privacy, but she locks eyes with you instead. That’s because when your dog is in that pooping position, she’s vulnerable, and she’s looking to you to protect her. «Your dog is instinctively aware of his defenselessness.

Do dogs pick one person?

While some dogs choose a single person to latch onto emotionally, some dogs love social experiences with humans and have big groups of humans they’re friendly with. Bonding time with a range of people aside from the primary caregiver can be great for socializing dogs and stimulating their brains.

Why do dogs tilt their heads when we talk to them?

A dog tilts his head to show that he is engaged much the way a human would nod during a conversation to indicate that he is listening.

What colors do dogs see?

Human eyes have three types of cones that can identify combinations of red, blue, and green. Dogs possess only two types of cones and can only discern blue and yellow — this limited color perception is called dichromatic vision.

Why does my dog follow me everywhere?

If your dog follows you everywhere then it’s a sign that they trust and love you and that you make them feel safe. Following you very closely can be a sign that they’re bored, they want something, they’re feeling scared or are just being nosy.

Do dogs recognize themselves in the mirror?

Although dogs can’t identify themselves in the mirror, they still have some level of self-awareness and ace other self-recognition tests. They can recognize their own odor, and recall memories of specific events, reports.

What do dogs think of themselves?

In other words, do they think of themselves as individuals separate from other beings and the world around them. A new research paper in the journal Scientific Reports supports the idea that dogs do, in fact, have a sense of self-awareness, at least in terms of their body.

Do dogs know who their human is?

Dogs do pay attention to human faces, Andics, said. “They read emotions from faces and they can recognize people from the face alone, but other bodily signals seem to be similarly informative to them.”

What smells are dogs afraid of?

Top Smell That Our Dogs Hate

  • Chili Peppers.
  • Onions.
  • Ground Spices (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom, mustard, and cayenne pepper)
  • Garlic.
  • Citrus Fruits (such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits)
  • Vinegar.
  • Fresh Herbs (such as basil, mint, rosemary, and thyme)
  • Alcohol.

Why Do Dogs Lick Other Dogs’ Pee?

Jenna Stregowski is the Pet Health and Behavior Editor for Daily Paws and The Spruce Pets. She’s also a registered veterinary technician with over 20 years of expertise in the field of veterinary medicine.

Updated on 12/14/21
Reviewed by

Bartley Harrison

Dr. Bartley Harrison is a veterinarian with more than 15 years of professional veterinary experience treating dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, birds, and small mammals, with a specific focus on Emergency Medicine. Dr. Harrison is part of The Spruce Pets’ veterinary review board.

why dogs lick other dogs pee

Have you ever noticed your dog licking another dog’s pee? Dogs are known to display plenty of odd behaviors and weird habits, like sniffing each other’s rears or suddenly getting the zoomies. When dogs sniff the urine of other dogs, they are getting a world of stimulating information. Despite how off-putting we humans see it, dogs seem to enjoy it. Fortunately, this behavior is generally harmless unless the other dog is sick.

Why Does My Dog Lick Other Dogs’ Pee?

Dogs use their noses to explore the world around them. An advanced olfactory system allows dogs to smell much better than humans. They actually have a structure in their nasal passages called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson’s organ that enables them to smell pheromones. They can take in complex layers of scents and will sometimes lick objects, surfaces, and even other dogs in order to get a better whiff.

Urine contains chemicals and pheromones that are unique to each dog. It tells a story about the dog and can provide clues about the dog’s sex, reproductive status, health, and diet. This explains the reason for urine-marking: dogs urinate on objects to make their territories and communicate with other dogs. Of course, this is why your dog is drawn to the pee of other dogs.

You may see your dog licking in addition to smelling the urine so he can fully take in all of the «aromas» from the other dog. Some dogs will rub their faces and bodies on desirable scents, and this may include the urine of another dog.

Is Licking Other Dogs’ Pee a Problem?

You may find it unsettling to see your dog licking another dog’s urine. Relax, there is nothing wrong with your dog. This instinctive behavior is normal and usually harmless. However, it is possible for a dog to contract an infectious disease from licking the urine of animals.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is contagious to both humans and dogs. It is often transmitted through the urine of wildlife like rodents. Dogs with leptospirosis can spread this disease through their urine as well, infecting humans, dogs, or other animals. Leptospirosis causes flu-like symptoms and can lead to liver failure or kidney failure in dogs and people. Dogs are more likely to contract leptospirosis from contaminated water, but it is technically possible to get the disease directly from another dog. Therefore, it can be a concern if your dog is licking the urine of unknown dogs. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has been exposed to leptospirosis or is showing signs of illness.

Intestinal parasites and gastrointestinal viruses like parvo are not passed via urine. However, a dog could contract a disease after licking the genital area of an infected dog if the dog is shedding the parasite or virus from the anus.

A rare bladder parasite called Capillaria plica can affect dogs, but not directly from another dog’s urine. Instead, the infected dog urinates the parasite’s eggs, which then develop into larva and enter earthworms. A dog must eat the infected earthworm to contract the parasite.

How To Stop Dogs From Licking Other Dogs’ Pee

There may be times when you want to stop your dog from licking other dogs’ urine. Many owners are disgusted by the sight of it even though it’s normal behavior. More likely, you are concerned that your dog may contract an infectious disease.

Training can help you prevent your dog from licking other dogs’ pee. Practice cues like drop it and leave it so you can interrupt your dog the moment you catch him trying to eat something bad. If your dog fails to obey, use positive reinforcement rather than punishment. Redirect your dog to a toy or game. Reward him for diverting his attention from the undesired item.

Your dog is most likely to lick another dog’s pee during a walk or while playing in a dog park. Watch your dog closely at these times. If your dog is on a leash, simply lead him away from other dogs that are peeing. You will need to watch your dog closely at the dog park or while playing outdoors with other dogs. Only allow your dog to play with healthy dogs.

You may need to take a break from the dog park if you cannot stop your dog from licking other dog’s pee. Work on training in a controlled environment, like your yard. Invite familiar, healthy dogs over from doggie «playdates» so you can supervise and work on the «leave it» cue.

Article Sources

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Kokocińska-Kusiak, Agata, et al. “Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications.” Animals: An Open Access Journal from MDPI, vol. 11, no. 8, 2021, p. 2463.
  2. Lisberg, Anneke & Snowdon, Charles. (2011). Effects of sex, social status and gonadectomy on countermarking by domestic dogs, Canis familiaris. Animal Behaviour — ANIM BEHAV. 81. 757-764. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.01.006.
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