Some elements are easily recognizible even for us: a puppy and an adult dog smell different, females change smell depending on their reproductive cycle, emotions interfere with the individual smell.
It’s also obvious that olfactory explorations are longer and more intense towards neutered male dogs.
My opinion is that there is a doubt. A male is a male, a female is a female and a neutered dog is…
Sometimes neutered dogs are treated like young preadolescents and I think that it’s the difference in smell that changes the perception of other dogs.
Some types of scent marking are more evident: males raise their leg to urinate, a visual signal other than olfactory. Females can also raise their leg, it happens frequently. After urinating and sometimes after defecating even females can scrape the ground, by only using their back paws or with all four, moving as if they were walking (left front paw - right back paw – right front paw – left back paw). Other marking behaviors are less known. Thanks to Sue Sternberg I discovered marking with the perianal region.
Since I listened to her teaching this marking method, I am more aware of the use of the dogs bodies and of the olfactory communication.
I added to my marking behaviors list the ones done with the head (lips, cheeks, ears), neck and shoulders, the back. Dogs can mark following a scheme: first the shoulder then the perianal region. When they roll on the ground they usually rub their head first and then roll using the shoulder and the back. What I could notice thank’s to the presence of the lakes is the tendency to scroll off the water close to people. I used to think it was casual, but dogs can get out of the water, walk for a few meters and scroll only when they get close to a person.
Dogs can mark on surfaces, objects, dead captures, people, other dogs or animals.
They can mark a toy or urinate inside the food bowl. They can overmark another dog mark or close to it. Or they can avoid a mark. They can mark in front of another dog or do it when the competitor is far away and can’t see it.
Marking can be associated with an imposing behavior or with a rise in stress level. Marking can also indicate the belonging to a social group. Puma rubs me and marks me with her head, shoulder and back with more intensity in reunion moments and when she’s a little stressed out and looks for reassurance that she gains with physical contact with me.
Brick urinates next to Puma’s urine-marks (not over), meaning affiliation.
In the video I have collected some examples of marking behaviors. I’m sure you’ll be surprised learning how many ways dogs can use marking in social communication.
(all about the imposing behaviors of the dog Ethogram of imposing behaviours of the dog)
Text and video Alexa Capra
(translation Erica Lakin)
COPYRIGHT 2014 SKILLADIN SNC - All rights reserved