Why Does My Male Dog Lick My Female Dogs Pee?

Getting to the Bottom of a Strange Behavior

Many dog owners notice their male pups licking up female urine, much to their confusion. Almost 80% of dog owners report seeing this behavior at some point, yet few understand the reasoning behind it.

In this article, we’ll explore the most common explanations for why male dogs feel compelled to lick up female pee. We’ll examine natural instincts, curiosity, taste preferences, marking urges, mating rituals, dominance displays, and potential urinary issues. By understanding what drives this tendency, owners can better address it.

Natural Instincts and Scents

Dogs have an incredibly powerful sense of smell that allows them to detect and gather a wealth of information from scents and pheromones alone. According to one study, dogs have up to 300 million scent receptors compared to only 6 million in humans (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8388720/). This gives dogs the ability to pick up on nuances in scents that humans cannot detect.

Scent and pheromones play a key role in canine mating rituals and communication. When a female dog is in heat, she releases pheromones that signal her fertility and readiness to mate. Male dogs can detect these pheromones from great distances through their highly sensitive noses. By smelling a female dog’s urine, male dogs can determine her reproductive status and interest in mating.

Additionally, dogs use urine scent marking to communicate important information to other dogs. By smelling urine left by other dogs, they can gather details such as the dog’s sex, health status, and dominance. For male dogs, the motivation to smell and lick a female dog’s urine may be to detect if she is ready to mate.

Curiosity

Male dogs are naturally curious about their environment and like to investigate interesting smells and items. As the CTVSH veterinary hospital explains, dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell and will use their nose to explore the world around them.

When a female dog urinates, it leaves behind a strong scent that may pique the curiosity of male dogs. They may lick and sniff the urine simply to gather more information about the dog that left it there. It allows them to determine if the female is in heat, unfamiliar, or has been in the area recently. So in some cases, licking female urine is an exploratory behavior driven by natural curiosity about scents and social cues rather than a behavioral problem.

Taste

One possible reason a male dog may lick a female dog’s urine is that he likes the taste. According to research, dogs have around 1,700 taste buds compared to a human’s 9,000, so their sense of taste is not as well-developed as ours. However, they do have specific taste receptors for meats and fats that humans lack. Some sources indicate male dogs seem to show a preference for the taste of female urine over male urine.

The nutrients and minerals found in female dog urine could be appealing to male dogs. For example, female dog urine contains extra calcium and magnesium during estrus cycles when the dog is fertile and most attractive to male dogs. The urine also contains pheromones that convey information to male dogs about the female dog’s reproductive status and readiness to mate.

So the taste receptors in male dogs may detect the different composition of female urine compared to male urine, making them motivated to lick up those extra nutrients. However, excessive licking of urine could indicate an underlying health issue, so owners should monitor the behavior and consult a veterinarian if concerned.

Marking

It’s common for male dogs to lick a female dog’s urine as a way to mark their territory and show dominance. When a male dog licks a female’s pee, he overlays his scent over hers, which signifies to other dogs that she is “taken” (VCA Animal Hospitals). This is a natural instinctual behavior for male dogs driven by the scents and pheromones in the female’s urine. According to veterinary experts at UC Davis, urine marking is considered “normal, instinctive social behavior” and the motivation is not sexual, but rather related to leaving scent messages (Urine Marking in Dogs). When a male dog licks up a female’s urine, he is essentially marking her as his territory and indicating to other males that she is spoken for.

Mating Ritual

It’s important to consider that licking a female dog’s urine may be part of natural mating rituals and courtship behaviors between male and female dogs. According to Understanding Dog Mating Behaviour!, mating days are chosen based on factors like the female dog’s progesterone levels and tail flicking behaviors. Male dogs engage in certain courtship behaviors like licking the genital region of the female as part of initiating mating.

As explained in Courtship and Mating in Dogs, when a female dog enters estrus stage of her reproductive cycle, it triggers mating instincts in male dogs. The male dog will lick the genital region and urine of the female dog as part of mating rituals and courtship display. So licking a female dog’s urine could signal the male dog’s sexual interest and attempt to initiate mating with her.

Dominance

A male dog licking a female dog’s urine could potentially be a display of dominance and territorial marking. According to Sequoiahumane.org, urine-marking is a way for dogs to “assert dominance or ease anxiety by laying out boundaries.” It is different from submissive urination, which happens out of excitement, anxiety or fear (Sequoiahumane.org). When a male dog licks a female dog’s urine, it could be an attempt to cover her scent with his own, indicating his dominant status. However, this type of territorial marking is not necessarily specific to interactions between male and female dogs. Both male and female dogs may urine mark objects or areas to communicate information about themselves to other dogs.

Urinary Issues

One potential reason why a male dog might lick a female dog’s urine is because of underlying urinary issues [1]. Dogs that have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or other urinary problems may feel compelled to frequently lick themselves or other dogs’ urine as it can provide temporary relief. According to veterinarians, common signs of a UTI or other urinary issue include [2]:

  • Excessive thirst and drinking
  • Frequent urination or straining to urinate
  • Urinating small amounts or difficulty urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Whining or discomfort when urinating
  • Licking around the urinary opening

If a male dog starts excessively licking a female dog’s urine, it’s important to rule out an underlying medical cause by taking the dog to the veterinarian. The vet can run tests on the urine to check for infections. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and addressing any other urinary problems. Preventing access to the female dog’s urine by separating the dogs when she urinates can also help curb this behavior if it’s medically driven.

Preventing the Behavior

There are several tips you can try to discourage your dog from licking urine:

  • Use positive reinforcement training. When your dog shows interest in urine, redirect their attention with a treat or toy reward. This helps teach them that licking urine does not lead to rewards.
  • Interrupt the behavior with a command like “leave it.” Then redirect their focus to another activity.
  • Limit access to areas where other dogs frequently urinate on walks using a short leash.
  • Clean up urine immediately in your home or yard using an enzymatic cleaner to remove odors.
  • Speak to your vet about supplements that can make urine less palatable.

If the behavior becomes excessive or impossible to manage, consult a veterinary behaviorist or certified dog trainer. They can assess if an underlying physical issue or behavioral problem is causing the obsession with urine licking.

Conclusion

In summary, there are several common reasons why a male dog may lick a female dog’s urine:

– Natural instincts and scent attraction – Male dogs may be curious about the scents and pheromones in a female’s urine and feel compelled to investigate and taste.

– Marking territory – Licking a female dog’s urine could be a male dog’s way of marking territory and asserting dominance.

– Mating ritual – Licking urine could be the first stage of mating courtship and ritual.

– Medical issues – In some cases, excessive licking of urine could indicate a health problem like diabetes or urinary tract infections.

While the behavior may be natural in some contexts, excessive or inappropriate licking of urine should be discouraged to avoid reinforcing the habit. Training and correcting your male dog when the behavior occurs can help, as well as spaying/neutering to reduce mating instincts. If the behavior persists, consult your vet to check for potential medical issues.

The key takeaway is that this behavior likely stems from natural canine instincts and scent-communication. While not necessarily problematic on its own, owners should monitor the situation and intervene if the habit becomes excessive or inappropriate.

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