Canine Behavior/Yorkie poo


I have a 8 month old yorkie poo who has been fixed and house trained. My question is that he will lift his leg on someone but will not pee? Why is he doing this and how can I stop it.

Greetings, and thank you for contacting All Experts,
It is great that your Yorkie poo has been fixed and successfully house trained. These adorable pooches aren't the easiest to potty train due to their small size and acute intelligence. It's my understanding that you are seeking help for his marking behavior. It appears that he will lift his leg on people, but there is no evidence of urine when he does this. There may be various explanations for this.

One of the most obvious is that when he engages in this, his bladder is already empty. You see this often in dogs who tend to mark often. They will mark over and over and at a certain point, their bladder is empty; yet, their instinct to mark is so strong that they'll continue to hike their leg despite the "tank" is empty.

Another possibility is that he is stopped right before the urine flow starts. For instance, he may be about to lift his leg, but you or your guest startle just in time before he actually has a chance to urinate. Also, it could be your Yorkie poo knows he shouldn't do this, so he just lifts his leg and doesn't follow through in fear that perhaps he will be  reprimanded in some way. In any case, you may be wondering how to solve this problem.

As you may have noticed, dogs like to mark on vertical surfaces. This is because this puts the area marked at the level of another dog's nose. "Pee mail" this way can be easily and effectively read by other dogs. The legs of a person offer the perfect vertical surface which makes them an appealing "pee post" substitute. It's a common myth that only intact males will urine mark; indeed, many neutered and spayed dogs enjoy marking as well! This shows that urine marking isn't a behavior exclusively triggered by hormones. There are many other non-hormonal explanations. Let's take a look at a few.

-Your Yorkie poo may be aroused in certain social situations. At times, when dogs are excited, they don't know how to deal and manage the overload of emotions that floods them. They therefore may "redirect" by engaging in another activity that may appear almost out of context. You may therefore see some dogs urine mark or even hump people's legs.
-Your Yorkie poo is anxious. At times, some dogs are uncomfortable when other people come into their territory. They therefore urine mark  unknown people or other items (such as their luggage or the sheets slept on)with their scent in hopes of covering their foreign smell and replacing it with a more "normal", familiar scent.
-Your guests may be bringing on them a scent of another dog and your Yorkie poo instinctively wants to cover that scent.

Regardless of the cause, (at times, it's just wasted time trying to figure out why dogs engage in certain ways--as we may never know for sure) you may be interested in how to reduce this behavior. There are several strategies:

1) To distract him from engaging in this habit, it helps to provide your Yorkie poo with an alternate, incompatible behavior. In this case, let's try having your guests toss a rain fall of small bite-sized treats right when he comes over by them. After he eats them, try letting them toss a few more around and then see how it goes. Remember: the more a dog rehearses an unwanted behavior (like urine marking) the more it puts roots and becomes harder to eradicate. This way, rep and rep, your dog will learn a new pattern --looking for treats instead of marking. You can also put the behavior of looking for treats on cue, by saying something like "go hunting!" right before the rainfall of treats falls to the floor. After all, your dog cannot eat treats while he is actively urine marking! This strategy in dog training lingo is known as "differantial reinforcement of incompatible behavior". You can read more about this here:

2)Practice the looking for treats behavior with several different guests. If feasible, have volunteers, come by to help you out. If you are unsure on how he will react, put him on leash, so if he doesn't pay attention to the treats, you can cue him and guide him towards the treats while removing him from the guest.

3)Should your dog not take treats, it's often a sign that he is over threshold. When a dog is too concerned about something, his digestive system may shut down. You will need to work more gradually using desensitization. To read more about dog threshold levels and desensitization read my articles:

If your dog appears anxious about having guests over, you can invest in some calming aids such as DAP diffusers. These are pheromone-based plug-ins that may help dogs relax. Main pet stores carry them also in collar and spray forms.

I think that tossing treats offers a win-win situations. You will get 2 pigeons with one stone. Indeed, by giving treats you will:
1) provide an alternate behavior to urine marking
2) change your dog's emotional response towards guests if he's slightly anxious about them. This is a process known as "counterconditioning" you can read more about it here:
3) set your dog for success. Scolding, reprimanding a dog for urine marking often makes the behavior worse.

I hope this helps! Please take a moment to leave me feedback when you have  a chance~! Kind regards,
Adrienne Farricelli

Canine Behavior

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Adrienne Janet Farricelli CPDT-KA


I can answer questions pertaining dog psychology and general dog behavior. Why is my dog doing this? And what can I do about it? are common questions I am asked. I will not answer questions concerning health problems as this is out of my spectrum, but I can recommend a vet visit if there are chances behavioral problems may stem from a possible underlying medical problem.


I am a certified dog trainer (CPDT-KA) that has attended seminars on dog behavior. I am acquainted with behavior modification programs and have read several books from reputable authors such as Patricia McConnell, Turid Rugaas, Nicholas Dodman and Bruce Fogle to name a few. I have rehabilitated dogs affected by moderate to severe behavioral problems.

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