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Why Do Dogs Pee on Tires? Canine Behavior Explained

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

black labrador peeing on car tire

If you have a dog, you’re always out for walks, so the chances are that your dog has peed on a variety of objects. A tire (or two) has probably been a target. We’ve seen it in cartoons and comics, and it certainly happens in real life.

Why is this? What is the fascination with tires? The short answer is that car tires are the perfect height for a dog to lift their leg on, and they are full of amazing smells.

If you want a more detailed answer, keep reading. We get into why dogs pee on anything (beyond the obvious reason of just needing to relieve themselves) and what’s going on in a dog’s nose. We also look at methods that will help stop or redirect your dog away from those car tires.

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Why Do Dogs Pee on Everything?

Dogs love leaving messages for each other by peeing on everything. Dog urine is full of a surprising amount of information about the dog: everything from the dog’s age, gender, stress level, and health to whether they are neutered or spayed and their social status. That’s so much information for passing dogs to take in!

Intact male dogs that are in a higher social order will “overpee” on another dog’s urine. Essentially, they completely cover it with their own pee. Female dogs usually pee next to another dog’s urine instead.

You can consider dogs peeing on multiple items while out for a walk like they’re leaving their calling card.

white dog peeing on a brick wall
Image Credit: Charlie Goodall, Shutterstock

A Little Bit About the Dog’s Nose

Anyone who has ever had a dog knows how much they enjoy a good sniffing session. As a comparison, humans have 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses, whereas dogs have 300 million! So, in other words, dogs have a refined sense of smell.

In fact, the dog nose is so incredibly superior to our own that they not only breathe in and out at the same time, but they also essentially smell in 3D. Each nostril is capable of smelling separately, which essentially allows a fuller picture.

They can even smell how long ago a scent was deposited! Unsurprisingly, hound dogs have the best sense of smell compared to other breeds.

Dogs also possess something called a Jacobson’s organ (or vomeronasal organ), which is located at the bottom of the nasal cavity in a dog’s mouth. This organ allows dogs to both smell and taste a scent at the same time. This gives dogs the opportunity to gain important information through the pheromones in other dog’s urine.

Image Credit: PICNIC-Foto-Soest, Pixabay

So, Why Vertical Surfaces?

We know that dogs get tons of information by smelling another dog’s pee. But why do dogs use vertical surfaces? Male dogs tend to urinate on vertical surfaces because it enables them to really advertise themselves at the nose level of other dogs. It’s just like when we post signs with important information or advertising on a bulletin board at eye level so everyone can see it.

Additionally, the higher the dog pees, the longer the scent will last, especially compared to objects that are horizontal or closer to the ground.

But Why Do Dogs Pee on Tires?

Tires are just the right size for dogs of all sizes, and they are the all-important vertical surface that dogs like to aim for.

There are also all the smells that tires accumulate. Tires travel over various surfaces, which also have aromas, so they end up with a medley of delightful scents for dogs. Scents of food, body fluids, roadkill, grass, and even puddles can be fantastic additional smells.

There’s also the fact that other dogs might be peeing on the same tires. So, in the long run, it’s all about the smells, the vertical surface, and the opportunity. They are easily accessible, being parked right next to the sidewalk that the dog is walking on, so why not pee on tires?

car tire
Image By: Pexels, Pixabay

Preventing Your Dog From Peeing on Tires

The most obvious answer here is to keep your dog away from any tires while out. Just make sure to put your dog on a leash and gently pull them away from any vehicles when you see them making a beeline for those enticing tires.

You can also use redirection as a method of distracting your dog. While out with your dog, make sure you have a favorite ball, toy, or treats on hand, and use these items to draw your dog’s attention away from the tires.

Lastly, training is always one of the best options. Using positive reinforcement and treats when your dog responds appropriately can make your life a little easier. You can use the “leave it” command for training your dog to ignore tires and other items and situations.

What If Your Tires Are the Victims?

As soon as you realize that your tires have been victims of dog urine, you should clean them as quickly as possible, so they don’t attract every dog in the neighborhood to follow suit. You should use an enzyme cleaner, which will help eliminate the odor. If you get a cleaner with an added scent, such as citronella, it will stop dogs from even wanting to go near your tires.

If it’s occurring in your driveway, consider putting your car in the garage, or you can place plywood or carboard against your tires as a way of preventing dogs from directly urinating on them.

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Final Thoughts

Giving your dog time to sniff (and pee) while out for a walk is a great way for your dog to gain valuable information, and it will also tire your pup out. It’s probably best for you to discourage your dog from peeing on tires, though, since you will have to clean your tires or will be creating problems for a stranger.

If your dog is trained to heel or if you can employ the “leave it” command, it shouldn’t be too difficult to discourage this behavior. There are so many things that dogs can pee on, so it doesn’t have to be someone’s tires. Just as long as you’re respectful of other people’s property (and this includes gardens), your dog should have plenty of safe items to mark and sniff to their heart’s content.

Featured Image Credit: charnsitr, Shutterstock

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