Dogs compete for status ‘peeing over pee’

April 28th, 2011 - 6:58 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, April 28 (ANI): A new study has found that both female and male dogs compete for status using the height, leg-lift angle, location and quality of their pee.

The study also found that countermarking (when a dog whizzes on or near where another dog previously went) is done more by high-tailed or high-status dogs, reports ABC Science.

“Previous studies on dogs really only found support for overmarking (peeing over pee) being something that males did, and that they mostly did it in response to female urine. So the previous interpretation was that male dogs overmarked to hide female urine,” said biologist Anneke Lisberg, from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“Our patterns really broaden this understanding. Both sexes do it; both sexes countermark in response to same and opposite sex urine, and status is an important factor,” he said.

Lisberg and colleague Charles Snowdon conducted two experiments. The first involved presenting urine from unfamiliar “donor” dogs of various breeds to 48 privately owned Labrador retrievers.

Each retriever was guided on a leash through a “urine course” where the dog could sniff, whiz or otherwise react to pee-marked wooden stakes.

For the second experiment, the researchers observed canine urine interactions at an off-leash dog park in Wisconsin.

The scientists documented 153 urinations and 199 urine investigations from 87 male and female dogs of different breeds.

Lisberg and Snowdon determined that males and females were equally likely to whiz next to an unknown dog’s previous urine mark. High-tailed/high-status dogs, however, were far more active than other dogs at countermarking and investigating urine.

“Although both sexes countermark, they do it a little differently: Males are more likely to overmark than females, and high-status males exposed to a place like a dog park are the energizer bunnies of marking,” said Lisberg.

Some more submissive, low-status dogs will not countermark at all when visiting dog parks.

The study appeared in the journal Animal Behaviour. (ANI

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