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Why does my dog pee so much on walks?

Your dog stops. And pees. And stops. And pees. What should have been a fifteen-minute walk becomes an hour. What’s going on when your dog just keeps peeing?

It may seem like a simple question, but it has a few answers. Your dog could be marking, could have a urinary tract infection, could be experiencing dehydration, or may have simply had too much water.

Let’s take a deeper look.

Why does my dog pee so much on walks?

Dogs pee a lot on walks for a lot of reasons.The most common reason is marking.

What is marking? You might have heard about dogs “peeing on something to own it.” Dogs pee to announce their presence to other dogs. Dogs respect other dogs and their territory. So, a dog that’s peeing around the neighborhood is basically saying “I’m around here, watch out!” In the wild, dogs will either form clusters of similar dogs (so they’ll recognize each other), or they’ll avoid crossing paths (so they aren’t competing).

When you walk your dog, your dog is exerting dominance over the area that he knows as his home. And in some ways, he’s protecting his pack; he’s saying “My family is here, look out.” It’s a healthy thing to do and good for your dog’s psychology, even if it may be a little irritating if you’re rushing. While you can discourage your dog from marking, it usually isn’t healthy or helpful, because it means that your dog will retain a small amount of urine each time for that express purpose.

But what if your dog is peeing a lot and it’s completely new behavior?

That can actually be dangerous. The top reason a dog might be peeing a lot is that he has a blockage. Like people, dogs can get things like kidney stones, or UTIs. If your dog keeps looking like he’s trying to pee, but isn’t able to pee, then it’s very likely to be a blockage or infection. You can contact your vet to find out more information. In most situations, they will want you to take a sample of urine (if any) for laboratory work.

If your dog is peeing and a lot of liquid is coming out, then your dog may have had a lot of water to drink. Alternatively, they could have consumed a poison that’s a diuretic. Diuretics are poisons that make animals dehydrated. Caffeine is a diuretic that causes humans to pee more (and consequently dehydrates them). Some dogs also need to have their water micro-managed, as they will continue to drink beyond want makes them full.

If it’s new behavior for your dog, you should observe them closely — and potentially take them to the vet if it doesn’t resolve. Any changes in a dog’s eating, peeing, or pooping behaviors should be noted because these are usually the first signs that something could be wrong with your pup’s health. Most dogs don’t outwardly show symptoms of being sick otherwise.

How many times should a dog pee on a walk?

Usually, a dog will urinate once on a walk. A dog should urinate anywhere from three to four times a day as an adult. A puppy may need to go out twice as often. A dog should be peeing quite frequently throughout the day and should never be asked to “hold it in” longer than a few hours. If a dog has to be left alone all day, a pee pad, dog door, or dog walker should be used. When dogs hold their urine in for longer than a few hours, it can lead to UTIs — a painful, costly issue to resolve.

But you might notice that your dog seems to be peeing much more than once during a walk. That’s usually just something called “marking.” Dogs mark to let other dogs know that they’re in their territory. They will frequently mark anywhere another dog has marked. So, you’ll see your dog sniff at a fire hydrant, lift their leg, and mark it.

When you see your dog stopping at poles, mailboxes, and fire hydrants, that’s usually what your dog is doing. It’s perfectly healthy and natural for your dog to be marking many times during a walk. Your dog usually holds some reserve urine in their bladder for expressly that purpose. It’s a method of communication for your dog.

Understandably, you might not want your dog to mark at every neighbor’s house. For the most part, you should let your dog express themselves; otherwise, they could hold too much urine in, or simply become distressed. But if your dog is marking excessively it’s usually a sign of anxiety. Your dog might feel as though it’s surrounded by other dogs. 

In nature, a highly marked area would just be avoided. Your dog doesn’t have that option. Distracting your dog positively can help. Remain positive; if you make your dog more anxious, they may just mark more. 

How to stop my dog from marking on a walk?

A dog that is marking excessively is either trying to protect his territory or anxious. 

If your dog is marking his territory, you should redirect his attention. Make sure you don’t go around mailboxes, posts, or hydrants that other dogs might have marked. When your dog starts sniffing around, call him. You might want to give him some small, high-value treats to keep his attention on you. 

It’s not fruitful to simply drag your dog away once he’s already started marking. Your goal is to keep him from “noticing” that there are other dogs and other dog signals around. It should be noted that marking territory is perfectly healthy for your dog to do and can even help his psychological engagement — but it’s only polite to prevent your dog from marking other people’s mailboxes and decor in and around their yard.

If your dog is marking his territory out of anxiety, your goal would be to make the walk more soothing and relaxing for him. Again, avoid areas that other dogs may have been, because this may make him feel nervous. A small dog or a submissive dog would often leave heavily marked territory because he wouldn’t want to encounter another dog. Because your dog doesn’t have that choice, he may feel compelled to try to mark and scare the other dogs off.

Vets can also prescribe medications for dogs that are too anxious.

Finally, dogs that aren’t neutered have a tendency to be more aggressive about marking. This is because marking is only partly out of anxiety; it can also be about “aggression.” Unneutered dogs want to mark to drive other dogs off or to find other dogs that they can mate with. So, if your dog is not neutered, they are going to mark more frequently. They might even mark your home!

Why does my dog poop so much on walks?

If your dog is pooping a lot on walks, it’s possible that your dog is experiencing a gastrointestinal issue. While it may not be very pleasant, you should take a look when your dogs poop; if it’s more “liquid,” it’s possible that your dog is sick. Changes in your dog’s poop can be a symptom that something is wrong.

Some dogs will poop when they’re excited. It’s not unusual for a dog to poop suddenly when they reach the dog park, for instance, or when they first go on a walk. But because it’s not a “full poop,” they might need to poop again later.

If your dog gets distracted when pooping or feels vulnerable, they may not finish using the bathroom. Dogs generally feel at their most vulnerable when they eat and when they use the bathroom. They will often look to you to make sure that you’re “on watch” when they’re going. Make sure your dog knows you’re present (though not too close — some dogs are shy poopers) and your dog may feel more comfortable completely using the bathroom.

Other dogs just poop a lot. You will eventually get used to how much your dog poops and when and be able to tell when a walk can be “over.” 

The reason people “walk” their dogs to poop rather than just letting them out is because the motion of ambulation causes them to need to poop more. Both eating and walking have a tendency to stimulate bathroom usage. So, when you’re walking your dog, you’re stimulating their digestive tract, and making it more likely they will poop. Sometimes that can lead to multiple poops on the same walk!

This generally isn’t anything to worry about unless the poop is runny or your dog appears to be straining to poop. If it’s runny, it’s possible that your dog thinks they have to poop more frequently than they actually do; they may be trying to poop repeatedly because of that sensation. If your dog is straining to poop, it’s possible they have a blockage they’re trying to pass. This can become very dangerous, so it’s something that you should check into right away.