Scents in the air and those on the ground can provide the dog with a wealth of information about the comings and goings in the locality and may be considered the canine equivalent of the local daily newspaper. There are two ways in which the dog may communicate through smell. First, they may deposit scents in their faeces, urine or glandular secretions for other dogs to discover and secondly, the smell of their own body will convey information about themselves.

Urination in dogs does not simply serve to empty the bladder. Most owners are aware of the male dog’s desire to cock his leg frequently and deposit small quantities of urine at numerous locations. This is a means of marking his territory and advertising his presence. By raising the leg to pass urine, the scent is deposited at nose level. Female dogs may also raise one hind leg when urinating and some will perform an acrobatic handstand by raising both hind legs off the ground in order to leave urine against a vertical object!

Both male and female dogs will earnestly investigate the scent marks left by other dogs and may overmark the area with their own urine – a dominant female may stand behind another urinating female in order to deposit urine on the same site. Although territorial marking is less important for the domestic dog than in the wild, it is likely that scent marking helps to make him feel relaxed by inundating the area with his own, familiar scent.

The urine of the female dog will also contain information about her oestrous cycle and sexual receptivity. Male dogs, in particular, can detect this and may travel long distances to seek out a bitch on heat.

General body odours are also an important means of communication between dogs. The scent is produced by the secretions of glands around the body, particularly around the face, the anal region and the tail. When unfamiliar dogs meet, they will investigate each other by sniffing, particularly the head and anal region. The more submissive dog may carry his tail between his legs to prevent further sniffing.

This information is referenced from the Waltham website which can be located at www.waltham.com

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