There’s new research showing that dogs, our most trusted companion, apparently tend to lie to other dogs and are very capable of deception.
A new study showed that some canines, especially the smaller breed dogs, deliberately send the wrong signals to mask their real size with their pee markings.
The study, published in the Journal of Zoology, revealed that small male dogs try to raise their legs higher when they pee. The angle creates a marking that tells other dogs there is a large dog in the area.
Cheating on Their Pee Marks
Experts from Cornell University conducted the experiment by walking and filming 45 shelter dogs of different sizes. This took place within a period of two years. They analyzed hundreds of video recordings to determine the angle of the pee markings versus the size of the dogs.
The experiment showed that lightweight and small dogs tend to lift their legs higher when they pee compared to large and bulky dogs. These animals averagely raise their legs to pee at an 85° to 147° angle but the smaller dogs apparently exaggerate their leg lifting. With this behavior, the experts concluded that smaller male dogs tend to “cheat” on the pee marking.
Cornell’s head researcher Betty McGuire said that the exaggerated pee marks might be the male dog’s way of telling other dogs to stay away from him. It’s the small dog’s defense mechanism against potential encounters, where they know that their size could not possibly match the other dog.
Just like Other Species
Ecologist Lynda Sharpe from the Australian National University in Canberra took interest in this research’s results because the behavior is not unique to male dogs. Sharpe has done a similar study on dwarf mongooses that do a handstand position when they pee to also fool other animals.
The expert said that the dogs’ behavior did not surprise her. She won’t also likely be surprised if there are other species who exaggerate their size with their scent markings in other to assert their abilities, as per Science Magazine.
“Over-marking” the Pee Spot
However, the study did not account for a typical dog behavior called over-marking. This happens when dogs pee on top of another scent mark as a form of status signaling and dominance.