Why Do Dogs Pee On Tires?

Adrienne Farricelli

Dogs pee on tires for a very simple reason: they are appealing surfaces to leave a trickle of pee-mail. However, there's more to that at a closer investigation. Here's some interesting info about what may make tires so special to dogs.

Why Do Dogs Pee On Tires? You may have noticed how dogs are particularly interested in tires, and how after sniffing them, dogs strategically pee on them and then leave with a satisfied, "mission accomplished' look on their faces.

 If you are wondering why dogs pee on tires, you can bet that dogs likely have many good reasons. It would be wonderful if they could just whisper to us all their dirty little secrets, but until dogs can talk, we can only make a few assumptions about their behavior of urinating on car tires.

A Lesson in Postures

So why do dogs pee on tires? There's a logical explanation. When dogs mark, they assume different positions which tend to vary based on the individual animal and the specific context.

Randall H. Sprague and Joseph J. Anisko in their study "Elimination Patterns in the Laboratory Beagle," were able to identify 12 different postures assumed by dogs when eliminating. 

These include, stand, lean, raise, elevate, flex, squat, lean-raise, flex-raise, handstand, arch, squat-raise and arch-raise. For canine nerds, drawings of the dog's urinary positions can be found here: elimination patterns.

Bonnie V. Beaver, a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, explains in her book "Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers"that in female dogs, 68 percent of the urinary postures consisted of the squat position; whereas, in males, 97 percent involved the classical elevated leg posture seen in male dogs, as seen in the picture below. 

Dog marking trash can
Dog marking trash can

At Nose Level

Bonnie V. Beaver further adds that male urination is directed towards vertical targets 97.6 percent of the time. This can be a good reason why tires are appealing to dogs.

When dogs mark, they engage in scent marking, basically leaving their scent on certain surfaces which provides other dogs with relevant information, sort of like a business card. Urine placement in dogs is important.

Just as you would want to put your business card at eye level on a bulletin board, dogs mark on vertical objects so to leave their scent "at nose height for other dogs."

 Tires can therefore be added to the list of other favorite vertical objects dogs like to pee on, such as the quintessential fire hydrant, the lamppost, garbage cans, electric poles, fences and bushes. 

Longer Expiration Dates

It remains unknown whether dogs are aware of it or not, but urinating on vertical surfaces offers another big perk. Bruce Fogle, veterinarian and author, explains in his book " Know Your Dog"  how the scent of urine generally tends to last longer on a vertical surface, compared to an horizontal one.

Urine on tires or any other vertical surfaces is therefore likely to last longer compared to urine deposited on the ground by squatting. So this makes tires score big and rank high as one of the top best marking posts for dogs. 

A Potpourri of Scents

Best of all, tires collect quite a vast array of scents as you travel along the roads of your city or out of town. Just think about everything your car tires run over as you are out and about.

Scents that are likely to attract dogs on tires may include roadkill, animal excrements, foods dumped by people ,and of course, the scent of urine from other dogs (and even cats!) who have used tires to scent mark.

Did you know? According to Southern Trail Animal Hospital, the deadly canine parvovirus which is transmitted by infected dog feces, can also be transported from one place to another through shoes, clothes and even car tires.