How To Mark Your Territory

Toady guarding.

After spending 5 years of my life outside with my dogs at least 6 times a day in heat, cold, rain, snow, hail, and so on, I feel as if I have been made privy to many valuable and instinctual rituals. My dogs just seem to know how to be dogs without ever really being taught. We got Mylo when he was 7 weeks, and Toady was 2.5 months when adopted, but who knows how long he was without other dog companions. So, today I feel enlightened enough to record one of my favorite findings: marking the yard.

My dogs are both male. They both cock their legs when they pee, like hairy ballerina fountains. They are both territorial, but in different ways. Toady is like a wolf, peeing around the perimeter of the yard. He pees on the fence. I assume this is because he is telling the dogs on either side where his territory begins. Mylo, however, makes no sense to me. He will be frolicking in the yard like a crazed fairy, sending dandelion puffs floating and butterflies wafting, until he hears the unmistakeable “sssssssss” of Toady peeing on something. He freezes, body shaking with anticipation, and tears off to wherever Toady may be. He makes sure that Toady is peeing (even if it means he gets peed on) and waits, moving from paw to paw with impatience. As soon as Toady’s suspended leg hits the ground, Mylo leaps to the pee spot and proceeds to pee on it. Even though he is getting grass chunks flung at his head. Even though he already peed. Even though he may have been peed on. He saves that little tiny bit just so that he can “cover” Toady’s pee. I assume that this is some act of dominance, even though Toady is 50 pounds heavier than Mylo. Sometimes I imagine that Toady refuses to let Mylo have the last “mark”, so then they literally have a pissing contest.

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if that was how humans marked their territory? If all we had to do to keep salesman and solicitors and unwanted visitors out of our yards was to make an invisible pee boundary. No more polite but awkward conversations about how you just aren’t interested in becoming religious, or about how you really don’t want to change your gas provider. No more newspaper salesman making you feel guilty for not subscribing after they gave you a 6 month free subscription that you never read. Just a pee line that would say, “you go over this line and I will make loud noises at you through the window until you go away”. A simple pee line that would tell unwanted visitors to go away. I don’t think I will ever try it, I mean, I would have to drink a few gallons of water and I loathe the taste, and what would the neighbors think? Still, it’s a nice thought.


58 thoughts on “How To Mark Your Territory

  1. I love this post. I had a terrible time reading it, though. I’m using Chrome, and the white type on black background is so tiny on my 24″ screen that I really had to squint to see it. I will take a look in Explorer and see if it’s better.

  2. Thanks, that was really funny. My dog Nicholas is 13-1/2 now and for the last few months he’s changed, no marking anymore. Doesn’t remember he’s supposed to go outside to do this, I’d love to see him out peeing against things again. This is my first foray into doggie dementia.

  3. Growing up, I had 2 English Cocker Spaniels. One was like Toady and would pee first and the other, like Mylo, would pee on the first pee. Well, when our first dog sadly passed away, the second one was, of course, in mourning. The first time I took her for a walk, she seemed quite confused and that’s when I realized… she was waiting for the first pee so that she could cover it with her own!

    It may seem silly, but I started crying right there in the middle of the street (I had been crying on and off all day anyway!). She quickly learned to pee on her own, I’m happy to report…

    • Aww, poor pup. It isn’t silly that you cried, I would too. I’m glad she started peeing on her own though. Mylo will pee on his own, but he always saves a little to cover Toady’s pee with, lol.

  4. That’s hilarious. All three of the male dogs I’ve had were squatters, and never lifted their leg except on the rock outside the groomer’s shop, where it is apparently compulsory for all dogs to pee before entering.

    • Why, thank you! You know, I have been plotting how to make that work in my head: I would need a rolly chair with a hole cut in it so I could just roll around the outside of the yard. But, in all honesty, I think that “Go Away” signs would be more effective on humans.

  5. Grady does not just mark the spot. He inundates it, much like the flood that covered the earth for 40 days. As I’ve said before, he pees long enough that he could have run a marathon. Backwards. With his legs duct taped together.

  6. Ha! One of Moses’ favourite things to do when given off-leash time is pee on everything in sight. Alma has learned so well from her older brother that she similarly lifts her leg to mark territory. Though I can’t necessarily say I wish people did the same… though it would simplify things.

    • That’s funny, I have been hearing more about females lifting their legs from this post. I’m sure that even if I did do it, it would result in the same outcome even if it were normal. I can’t say that I would bother a neighbor who was out marking their lawn ever again! Hahaha.

  7. Hahaha My two boys do that too. And the smaller one always gets peed on. ON THE HEAD! 😀 ’cause he sneaks his little nose to see if the big one is really pissing! But only the little one does this. Oni, the bigger one, just by 3kg I think, couldn’t care less if Kiba, the little one, pees on his pee. I can’t quite get it but it sure is fun to watch! 🙂

  8. Interesting post. Hubby lets Baby Boy in the front yard when he feeds him and Angel because Angel won’t let him eat if they are together. He pees in different place around the yard. When BB is put back in the backyard Chancy wants outside. He goes and pees over everywhere that BB has peed. Hugs and nose kisses

  9. I see a new business venture arising from your post,how about urine in a spray can? To be used as a deterrent to individuals who don’t understand the meaning of no or those unable to read the large print No Soliciting sign by your door!

  10. Ah, I love dogs. My female dalmatian, Zoe, used to cover pee my Periwinkle’s pee .. and, it seemed, every pee smell along the walk. It could take forever! Poor Zoe, she really needed to assert herself 🙂 Jetta (fixed, female) she does it, too, fortunately not quite as maniacally. And now I will giggle and think about pee marking my territory whenever I’m having my space invaded.

  11. Our dog, Bailey, is quite the marker. I would have said initially that he marks fences, but I think he only marks fences that someone ELSE has marked…which is in keeping his need to pee on everyone else’s pee, more like Mylo. He has also gotten peed on, on several occasions, which looks REALLY obvious and really icky on him, with his white fur. Usually right down his forehead. Nice.

  12. Being a 10.5 pound male dog and living with Atticus, the 120 pound Rottweiler, I’m happy to say that size does not matter. I don’t even bother to pee where Atti does- I pee on the exact same spots every time I go out. Mom loves it as it means once I’ve killed off just so many flowers, that will be the extent of it. I just pee on the dead flowers for the rest of the summer.
    My peeps “mark” my #2 spots with sticks until they are cleaned up. I help them out now by only going #2 where the sticks are! They think this is very smart. I see it as being efficient. Less time cleaning up = more time playing.

  13. For the next few months, I want Them to pee on the phone to keep the political calls away. Those calls annoy even me and I can’t vote because I’m a dog.

  14. Hilarious post 🙂 And so true – they mark the strangest things. My dog’s favourite things to mark are usually only temporary. Piles of leaves… garbage cans… that random branch on the ground. I wonder if he realises that it’s going to be moved, and if that’s part of his plan 😛
    Also – the tv show Grimm has a wolf-guy (for lack of the actual term they use on the show) who pees around the perimeter of his property to mark his teritory – your post reminded me of that.

  15. “…hairy ballerina fountains”!! I love it!! You know, Taylor lifts her leg up, too! Of course, not as high as her male counterparts, but Jeremy and I are alittle freaked out by it! Your play-by-play about your doggies was hilarious!

  16. I definitely think that territory marking is a man’s job. It’s just much easier for them than for us ladies. I can’t imagine trying to pee on a fence!

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