Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

You Have E-Mail; Your Dog Has P-Mail

P-mail is an important aspect of canine communication.

How many times a day do you check your e-mail, texts, and social media messages? It's an important part of your day, checking in with your friends and family to see what they have to share with you.

Your dog may not be able to read words, but he has a similar routine of checking his messages every day: p-mail.

What Is P-Mail?

Dogs have a variety of ways in which they communicate with one another, and urine is one of them. Smelling another dog's "pee" can tell your dog a lot, including:

  • The sex of the dog who left the urine and whether they are spayed or neutered.
  • The health or illness status of the dog that urinated in that spot.
  • The stress level of the dog that was in that spot before him.
  • The social status of the previous dog.
  • There is likely a great deal more information that a dog can glean from another dog's urine that we don't know about yet.

That is an incredible amount of information! Dogs can use the facts that they gather to decide how they themselves will behave. For instance, if your dog smells that many other dogs in a particular area have been feeling stressed, he may raise his guard and begin to feel a bit nervous.

How Do Dogs Respond to P-Mail?

Dogs may respond in many ways when they receive p-mail. What they do largely depends on their own sex, the sex of the dog that left the urine, and both dogs' social status. For instance:

  • Female dogs are more likely to urinate near but not on top of other dogs' urine.
  • Male dogs pay more attention to the urine of other males than that of females.
  • Dogs spend more time sniffing the urine of unfamiliar dogs than that of dogs they know or have smelled before.
  • More submissive dogs have less tendency to urinate over other dogs' urine.

Male dogs that are intact and dominant spend the most time trying to mark over other dogs' urine. You may even see a dog like this trying to leave p-mail even after his "tank" is empty.

Reading and Responding to P-Mail Is Important to Your Dog

As you can see, p-mail is an important part of your dog's day. Sniffing around where other dogs have been and deciding how to respond is a crucial part of a dog's social health.

Be sure that you are giving your dog plenty of opportunities to take walks, sniff new spots, and catch up on what's going on in his neighborhood. And, while you might not always have time to stop at every spot your dog wants to sniff, try to take some walks in which you can indulge your dog and let him take as much time as he wants to catch up on all the gossip and tell his own stories.

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