Elevator shoes for dogs?

Teddy's looking for the "perfect" spot. KARIN SPICER / CONTRIBUTED
Teddy's looking for the "perfect" spot. KARIN SPICER / CONTRIBUTED

I have a folder filled with possible column ideas from family, friends and readers. Often when I am researching a topic, I will stumble upon a kernel of information I’ve never read or heard about before.

I ran across such a gem when researching jealous feelings and dogs.

Veterinarian Jennifer Coates, writing for petmed.com, tells us, “Conventional wisdom says that when dogs pee, males raise a leg and females squat. In reality, however, dogs have many more options than that.”

The vet cites a study from the 1970s that identified 12 positions our family dog, Teddy, can take while relieving himself. The study’s researchers observed 60 intact male and 53 intact female beagles.

Yes, 12. You read that number correctly. Coates writes that numerous researchers have looked at the ways dogs relieve themselves to better understand our furry companions’ health, well-being or what they may be thinking.

So with a healthy dose of curiosity and amusement, I temporality put aside my original research and delved into this stream, so to speak.

As all dog owners know, they urinate either to eliminate or scent mark. Researchers note that marking is done more by males.

Most of the scent marking is done on vertical surfaces. Teddy usually leaves his scent on trees, bushes, cable boxes and the occasional mailbox.

According to Coates, when Teddy urinates higher on an object his scent flows downward to cover a larger area.

Teddy is small for a Lab in height and weight so reading that this approach can make a dog seem bigger than he is made me laugh. As Coates writes, “This is probably why the elevate posture is so popular among males.”

I’m sure some humorous one-liners popped into your head as you read that last line. The first thing that popped into my head was elevator shoes.

As husband Ed and I paid more attention to how our pooch relieved himself (and, yes, we actually looked), we concluded that he used two of the 12 positions the researchers described.

Teddy, a male, usually relieves himself with his hind legs partially flexed and his rear slightly lowered to the ground. The “flex” position is common for females.

As pups, our pooch and his two sisters were rescued together. Teddy is mostly using the position his dominant sisters used.

The Lab will also use the “raise” position. Ed has noticed Teddy using this when marking his “territory” on their daily walks.

As Coates describes it, “One hind leg is bent and raised off the ground but is kept relatively low.”

We have both seen him use this position when he’s with Sully, a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab mix, and his best bud.

Teddy acknowledges Sully as pack leader and models his behavior. Sully will raise his leg higher in the “elevate” position to cover Teddy’s or any other dog’s scent markings.

All the positions are normal for both male and female dogs. The position they choose has more to do with their age, sex and where they are when nature calls.

Coates notes dog owners should pay attention when their pooch suddenly changes position. She says pain or other medical issues could be in play. Consulting your vet may be appropriate.

Now maybe I know why Teddy is always in the bathroom with us. Studying our positions?


1. Stand

2. Lean

3. Flex

4. Squat

5. Handstand

6. Arch

7. Raise

8. Elevate

9. Lean-raise

10. Flex-raise

11, Squat-raise

12. Arch-raise

For more information check out petmd.com/dog/behavior/12‑dog‑peeing

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