He peed on my wife's leg
June 28, 2012 8:59 AM   Subscribe

We have a neutered 15 month Irish Terrier. Very well trained and walked etc, a very content little fellow. I (the Dad in the family) take him on most walks and fun/training stuff. Today as my wife walked him, while stopped at a street corner waiting to cross, he quietly cocked a leg and peed on her leg! I've seen non-neutered dogs at the park do this but never our dog. He listens to both of us but I have most interaction with him. What does this behavior mean? What do you think is going on his head?
posted by jdcasey to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
was there another dog in the vicinity?
posted by batmonkey at 9:02 AM on June 28, 2012

He may not have had anything going through his head. Male dogs are programmed to pee on anything that resembles a tree, as up high as possible. I propose he didn't think much about it at all, other than "here is this tree like thing, I should pee on it." You should gently but sternly correct this behavior as it occurs on things (and people) that you do not wish to have pee on. A deep voiced "no" and a gentle tug on the leash should get the message across.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:02 AM on June 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

I think he just mistook your wife for a tree for a second.
posted by fshgrl at 9:03 AM on June 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Our dog once peed on a ball he'd just been playing with. I think dogs are just sometimes kind of dim.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:07 AM on June 28, 2012 [11 favorites]

your dog probably isn't thinking anything. my 7yr old neutered weimaraner will spritz on random things every once in awhile: a patch of grass taller than the surrounding grass, a smaller dog, some other dog's ball. i just don't really think it means anything. just something they do every once in awhile.
posted by violetk at 9:12 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had a dog try to do that to me once. That dog also tried to pee on my dog, who is significantly smaller than he is. I have found that the dog was so in love with us that he wanted to make sure he marked us as his favorite objects outside of the house. The owner was horrified, but I thought it was very cute.
posted by Yellow at 9:15 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

My dog is neutered and has tried to pee on people on multiple occasions (usually at the dog park). Though we always address it in the way we address other bad behavior, it continues to happen, maybe a couple of times per year. No idea what is going on in his head (maybe the people's clothes smell like their own dogs?), but I wanted to chime in to say that you're not the only one with a neutered human-marker.
posted by halseyaa at 9:31 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Recap with extra info! My wife thinks there were 2 dogs nearby and to assure all that in no way do her legs resemble tree trunks. I wanted to add what puzzled me from the start was that I find him to be fussy about choosing where he wants to mark, it's always a process. I'm hoping it won't degenerate into a free for all.
posted by jdcasey at 9:49 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh he's just a terrier. We've got a neutered Welsh and every once in a very long while he'll decide a pedestrians leg is a good spot to pee. Thank god he's never succeeded. And he's incredibly well housebroken.
posted by JPD at 9:53 AM on June 28, 2012

Anecdotally, I have heard that dogs pee on people in khaki pants -- maybe they think it's a tree?
posted by vickyverky at 9:57 AM on June 28, 2012

I'm guessing he was distracted by the other dogs, wanted to look tough and mark something and just peed on the nearest thing without thinking. If he respects your wife in every other way and listens to her and behaves for her I would just put this down to a silly distracted mistake, akin to a human walking into a lamppost while watching something across the road.

My dog once peed a lot larger dog he is best friends with and was happily was playing with when a new person walked into the backyard he just cocked his leg and peed on a very surprised boxer dog.
posted by wwax at 10:15 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

My parents' beloved, much-missed retriever peed on my mom's foot one morning in the kitchen as she was drinking coffee. It was his one and only violation since being housebroken, and he was young and healthy at the time. He adored her and never peed on anything or anyone else again, so we decided he had just been seized by the dark, uncontrollable urge to mark her as his property forevermore. Quite romantic, when you think about it.

All of which is to say that if the behavior continues, talk to a trainer about ways to correct it and/or make sure all is well with the vet. If it's a one-time only thing, your wife could choose to interpret it as a compliment and a statement of undying devotion.
posted by superfluousm at 10:36 AM on June 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

My dog peed on me once -- we were being confronted by a much larger, recently pregnant, slavering-at-the-mouth aggressive dog and her owner that would not back off, and my dog and I were up against a fence with nowhere to go. It was a very scary, very tense situation. My dog was behind me, looking away. I think he was trying to look meek and non-threatening. Suddenly, he whipped out in front of me, lifted his leg, and peed on me. I think he was trying to tell the big scary dog that I was his.

Maybe there was something stressful in the environment that your wife could not detect. A scent of a big scary dog, a high-pitched noise, or something about the other two dogs that freaked him out. Maybe he was just saying "she's mine!"
posted by OrangeDisk at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2012

My dog pees on poop.

You could read some ill intent into the dog's action, but I wouldn't bother. It might never happen again.
posted by vitabellosi at 12:48 PM on June 28, 2012

My dog peed on some random woman's leg at the dog park. (Fortunately she was very good-natured about it!) That was three years ago -- hasn't repeated. He was probably just not paying attention to what he was doing.
posted by trip and a half at 3:07 PM on June 28, 2012

My dog once peed on a couple lounging on a towel at the beach. On a woman's head. Yeah. It happens.
posted by woot at 4:57 AM on June 29, 2012

I suspect dog behaviorists would read that A) terrier breed + B) you have most of the interactions and wonder if he meant to indicate dominance. A submissive dog among dominant dogs would never forget where they were peeing, especially not a terrier breed. So my vote is that he knew what he was doing. Maybe the other dogs made him 'feel' inferior and he needed to remind himself that he was higher on the totem pole than *someone*?

In any event, while it *could* be an indicator that he feels superior to your wife, if that's the only way he ever expresses it, it doesn't matter. You can just note it and move on. If you're feeling terribly concerned or pro-active, you could ask your wife to serve him his meals and make sure to rub her hands on the bowl or the crunchies (using her scent on his food to provide a small reminder to him that SHE decides if he eats or not). She could do this a couple times a week for a while. But if everything between your wife and the dog is hunky-dory (which it sounds like it is), I don't think it's necessary.

On the other hand, if there are little issues, or if things crop up that make you wonder, you can google NILF (Nothing In Life Is Free) dog 'philosophy' and incorporate bits of that into your life as needed.
posted by MeiraV at 8:34 AM on June 29, 2012

I would say it's more claiming something he cares about than dominating or confusing her for a tree.
posted by batmonkey at 8:38 AM on June 29, 2012

It could be a claiming thing, but I agree, likely not a domination thing. In this case.

Female dogs, FTW.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:47 PM on June 29, 2012

My intact male german shepherd did this at the off leash dog park when I was interacting with a couple of large dogs. My breeder and trainer both think that he did it to clearly indicate to the other dogs that I belong to him. FWIW - thats what I think he was doing!
posted by Minos888 at 1:33 PM on July 3, 2012

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