How I learned to stop hurrying and let my dog check his pee-mail - Dr. Marty Becker


How I learned to stop hurrying and let my dog check his pee-mail

Wednesday, Mar 27th, 2019 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Male poodle peeing on tree trunk

Didn’t I read something, perhaps a soliloquy from a doggy Shakespeare who exclaimed from beside a fire-hydrant, “To pee, or not to pee, that is not the question.”? A dog’s motto is to pee frequently with as much volume and elevation as possible.

I long ago coined the now popular term “pee-mail,” which is basically a social media platform (or vertical surface) for canines. While some humans like my 94-year-old mother-in-law shun Facebook and Instagram, all dogs use Assbook and Piss-ta-gram. Unlike humans who have to log onto multiple sites and scroll to catch up on all their friend’s news, all a dog needs is a whiff of a very prominent vertical surface such as a tree on the trail, a signpost, or the iconic choice, a fire hydrant.

Unneutered male dogs feel the need to re-mark their own previous pee-mails because urine evaporates and the scent decays. A dog not only has to repaint his territorial signs for his own satisfaction, but also because it tells other dogs coming by who “owns” this territory and how much time has passed since that last individual come by. In my mind, I just think of rival gang members. In territories dogs share, which is just about everywhere you go walking a dog on a leash, everyone has to keep marking and re-marking to establish ownership.

Some dogs do more leg lifts than a kickboxing instructor and have made a career out of marking every real or even imaginary pole, post, tree, bush, or extra tall blade of grass.

While it’s an enrichment activity for dogs to sniff, mark, sniff, mark, and dogs should be given ample time to do so, some dogs take this activity to extremes. Not only does it get annoying, but it’s bad manners on your part to let him stop at every neighbor’s front yard. A good dog trainer can help you find the right compromise, with the perfect number of “sniffs and  lifts,” so both you and your dog can enjoy and be enriched by your walk.