Dog peeing on peoples legs
February 1, 2004 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Why has my dog started to pee on people's legs in the dog park? [more inside]

He's only started doing this the last couple of times (twice) at the dog park - he'll go up to a person and lift his leg. My wife or I have caught him and reprimanded him, but would like to make sure this becomes a thing of the past.

He's a two year old huskie/german shephard mix and is usually very well behaved, if a little high strung.
posted by drobot to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
drobot, forget curing him and get out the video camera.

And if you decide you can't keep him, contact me. I like your dog already.
posted by Shane at 3:53 PM on February 1, 2004

First, is he neutered? If not, that's your first step, this could be marking behaviour, and that can usually be reduced by neutering. Is there any similarity between the people he's done this to? It does happen that dogs who are very distracted (as happens in a dog park) will lift their leg on the nearest vertical thing, regardless of what it is. In other words, the behaviour could be more about the environment than your dog, and you don't have a training issue, but rather an environmental issue. That said, he should be neutered anyway if he's not.

Second, what do you mean by "reprimand"? If you mean you caught him in the act and scared the bejeebus out of him by shouting at the top of your lungs and giving him a good scolding and/or gave a good leash correction, that's the right thing to do. Trying to correct things after the fact is useless and can be actively harmful (all the dog learns is that you're unpredictably angry).

Third, he should be on-leash in the dog park at least for the next few weeks, so that you're attached to him in case he tries to do it again - praise him for peeing on the right things, this way you're setting him up for success by making it impossible for him to do the wrong thing. Or, better yet, forget the dog park altogether (Very Bad Things can happen in dog parks, things can get seriously out of control and dogs can be badly injured or even killed), make a few friends with the owners of the dogs he likes there and make arrangements for play dates.
posted by biscotti at 4:14 PM on February 1, 2004

Response by poster: Shane - haha, we wouldn't give him up! It's pretty funny, but also embarrassing.

Biscotti - thanks - Yes, he's neutered. I'll see if there's similarity in the folks he's peeing on (I only witnessed this this morning).

As for reprimanding him - well, yeah, I was near him so I gave him a grab and yelled 'no' and I think my wife did the same (probably more so then me) - we're not afraid to get pretty vocal w/ him (he's very stubborn) and had he been on the leash would have done the leash correction - I grabbed his collar, which usually has the same affect on him. This hopefully will help him figure it out.

He's been going to these parks since he was a puppy - the one I take him too is small and I know 99% of the dogs that go there (if there's even another dog at the park - it's usually just him, but today it was him and one other dog.) The park my wife takes him too is a bit bigger, and has been known for the whole 'pack' mentality, and we do the play date thing when we can, but he requires *a lot* of exercise - two half hour walks, at least a half hour chasing his ball every day, and a night time five-ten minute walk before bed. If our yard was bigger, we could play fetch there, but he really needs a stretch of space to really get running. While he likes the other dogs, he's more interested in chasing his ball, so I feel pretty safe at these parks b/c we know them well, and he usually takes a corner for himself to play fetch.

I like the idea of walking him around a bit on leash and letting him pee - even though he's neutered he still does a bit of marking and maybe letting him take care of this before we starting playing fetch would help stop him from using strangers' legs!
posted by drobot at 4:30 PM on February 1, 2004

drobot: at least if he's empty before he gets to go play (you can even make being allowed to go play contingent on peeing), if he tries to use a person, they won't get TOO wet. My sister's (unneutered because of showing) dog did this once, but we were pretty sure it was because he was very distracted and just picked the first upright thing to pee on. Glad he's neutered, I'm thinking all you can really do is make sure he's empty before he gets to play and keep a close eye on him (if you know the other owners, maybe warn them ahead of time). Also, I have to say this: "A Husky X...stubborn? You're kidding, right?"...;)
posted by biscotti at 5:56 PM on February 1, 2004

Response by poster: biscotti - Thanks for the advice. I don't know a lot about Huskies (we though he was a german shephard when we adopted him) - but I've heard from others that they can be stubborn - this is common with this breed? He's a great dog, but definitely strong willed (esp. w/ his ball and squirrels.)
posted by drobot at 5:59 PM on February 1, 2004

Biscotti - thanks - Yes, he's neutered. I'll see if there's similarity in the folks he's peeing on ...

Wait, your dog only pees on eunochs?

Sorry. Something about this thread. Maybe the great post title of "Why has my dog started to pee on people's legs in the dog park?" has just pushed me over the edge.
posted by Shane at 6:14 PM on February 1, 2004

drobot: yes, Huskies are not the right breed for everyone, they can be very tricky to train. One thing you could do is get into obedience classes (especially clicker training classes, at very least positive training) with your dog, it's fun and will greatly enhance your ability to communicate with him (trained dogs are happier dogs). Just a thought.
posted by biscotti at 7:39 PM on February 1, 2004

Response by poster: Shane - I'm not sure if they're eunochs, although I could ask next time .

biscotti - We did obedience training when he was around five months - he learned the basics (heel, sit, down, stay, come) - it might be time for another round though, as his 'heel' and 'come' could be a lot better (he's a pro at 'sit' and 'down'.)

posted by drobot at 7:46 PM on February 1, 2004

My dog urinated on my wife once. But that was before we actually got married. My wife and I, not me and the dog.

I thought it was clearly a territorial, marking behavior.

She was lying in bed - a futon bed on the floor - and the dog just lifted his leg and dumped his bladder, in a long slow piss.

I don't have any actually useful advice on this - but I do sympathize. Still, I think Shane is on to something. That dog could make you rich.
posted by troutfishing at 8:13 PM on February 1, 2004

Obedience training isn't a one-time thing, if you don't work on it regularly, it diminishes and eventually goes away. You also have to give the dog a paycheck for it occasionally - intermittent rewards makes the behaviour more resistant to extinction (in other words, if he gets a bit of cheese once every 5-10 times he sits when asked, he's more likely to remember what "sit" means than if you never reward it, or reward it every time - but you do have to reward it once in a while, or else he'll justifiably figure it's just not worth his while, the vast majority of dogs don't work out of "desire to please", they work because there's something in it for them, just like humans).
posted by biscotti at 9:49 PM on February 1, 2004

Biscotti, if you live anywhere near Portland, Maine, I've got a dog that needs training. His owners need training, too. Great response.
posted by theora55 at 6:24 AM on February 2, 2004

Biscotti is the queen of animal-related Ask Meta items. Pet-owning MeFites everywhere rejoice: Huzzah!
posted by Asparagirl at 11:03 AM on February 2, 2004

Also, you might find this book helpful in a way :

Adam's Task : Calling Animals by Name : "Written by horse and dog trainer Vicki Hearne this thoughtful book argues persuasively for an animal's potential to comprehend his relationship with us. Hearne moves easily between philosophical debates, biblical discussions, and down-to-earth training stories to present this fascinating and radical analysis of the way language entwines animals and humans. A rewarding and beautifully complex book that will enrich your understanding of the animal world around you.

Vicki Hearne is a philosopher and poet who trains dogs in Connecticut. In addition to Adam's Task, shs has also written three collections of poetry, Nervous Horses, In the Absence of Horses, and The Parts of Light; a novel, The White German Shepherd; and two volumes of nonfiction, Bandit: Dossier of a Dangerous Dog and Animal Happiness.

posted by troutfishing at 11:05 AM on February 2, 2004

Heh. *blush* Thanks.
posted by biscotti at 11:31 AM on February 2, 2004

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