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Do Dogs Really Use Urine to Communicate Information?

by Jo Williams on 2013-09-25 13:37:18

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I read this and found it really interesting...from a book called "Do Dogs Dream?" by Stanley Coren. It gives great insight into my dogs daily do's...

The dominant sense for dogs is the sense of smell. Thus, for dogs, reading scents is much like reading a written message. However, if a dog wanted to write a message to other dogs, what would he use? In many ways, the canine equivalent of ink is urine. Many of the chemicals that give information about a dog's age, sex, emotional state, sexual availability, and health are found dissolved in his urine. Chemicals that produce scents capable of conveying social information are called "pheromones." Dogs even have a special scent detection system called "Jacobson's organ" or the "vomeronasal organ." It is a sort of pancake-shaped pouch of special receptive cells located just above the roof of the mouth, with ducts that open to both the mouth and the nose to allow scent molecules to enter. The large number of nerves and rich blood supply to this organ tell us that it is important to the dog, and this importance is further verified by the fact that there is a special region in the olfactory bulbs of the dog's brain dedicated to processing the information from this special smell receptor.

Because of the pheromones dissolved in it, a dog's urine contains a great deal of information about that dog. Since they are frequent targets of urinating dogs, fire hydrants and trees along a route popular with other dogs can be a great source for keeping abreast of current events by sniffing. Each tree is a really large tabloid containing the latest news in the dog world. While it may not contain installments of classic canine literature, it certainly will have a gossip column and the personals section of the classified ads.

When my dogs are busily sniffing at a favourite post or tree on a city street frequented by other dogs, I sometimes fantasize that I can hear them reading the news out loud. Perhaps this morning's edition goes, "Gigi, a young female Miniature Poodle has just arrived in this neighborhood and is looking for companionship - neutered males need not apply." Or "Rosco, a strong middle-aged German Shepherd Dog, is announcing that he is top dog now, and is marking this whole city as his territory. He says that anybody who wishes to challenge this claim had better make sure his medical insurance is current and paid up."

The biggest difference between dog and human reading is that humans are allowed to finish the entire piece. Many dogs only get to "read the headlines " before they are hauled away by the pull of their leash. This occurs because many owners feel the process of sniffing where other dogs have left their urine marks is unclean and disgusting. Some unenlightened dog owners may even discipline their dogs for trying to keep up with the neighborhood news.



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Do Dogs Really Use Urine to Communicate Information?

I read this and found it really interesting...from a book called "Do Dogs Dream?" by Stanley Coren. It gives great insight into my dogs daily do's...The dominant sense for dogs is the sense of smell. ...

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