Why Did My Dog Pee On Me?

My 14-months-old Rottweiler lifted his leg and peed on me this morning. What does this mean?

There are two different reasons that dogs will deposit urine. The obvious reason is to relieve themselves when their bladder is full – in other words urinating. The other reason is "marking", which involves smaller amounts of urine and is usually done to an upright surface such as a doorway, table leg or piece of furniture. In this case, it is obvious that your dog was not urinating in the normal way. Marking is a natural behavior and is a way for a dog to claim territory, advertise mating availability and to support the social order. The chemical signals in urine (pheromones) advertise lots of information about the dog to other passing dogs that may smell it, such as age, gender and even status. Marking is also a way to protect a dog’s space instead of constantly challenging intruders.

There is great debate regarding what types of marking behavior signify a dominance issue or insecurity – particularly when it involves "marking" people. This behavior is more likely to happen when there are two or more dogs in the same household and the offending dog is competing for social status. It is also likely to happen again unless you address the underlying problem. Given that every dog is an individual, it is difficult to speculate whether your dog a) considers you his territory – highlighting an underlying dominance issue, or b) is marking as a sign of anxiety and trying to reinforce his social status. Both underlying causes actually stem from the same root cause: The dog does not completely understand his social status in your family group, which can be reinforced by good training methods. See below for recommended training articles.