Little is known about what stimuli trigger urinating or scent-marking in domestic dogs, Canis familiaris, or their wild relatives. While it is often suggested that the urine of other animals influences urinating and scent-marking patterns in canids, this has not been verified experimentally. To investigate the role of urine in eliciting urinating and marking, in this pilot study I moved urine-saturated snow (‘yellow snow’) from place-to-place during five winters to compare the responses of an adult male domestic dog, Jethro, to his own and others’ urine. Jethro spent less time sniffing his own urine than that of other males or females, and that while his interest in his own urine waned with time it remained relatively constant for other individuals’ urine. Jethro infrequently urinated over or sniffed and then immediately urinated over (scent-marked) his own urine. He marked over the urine of other males more frequently than he marked over females’ urine. The method used here can be extended to other species for which experimental data are lacking. Though based on one dog, these novel data may further our knowledge of the role of scent-marking in territorial behavior and of sex differences in territory acquisition and maintenance.
Bekoff, M. (2001). Observations of scent-marking and discriminating self from others by a domestic dog (Canis familiaris): tales of displaced yellow snow. Behavioural processes, 55(2), 75-79.