It’s been common talk for years as we wonder why dogs pee on fire hydrants. Is the fire hydrant a shape they recognize? Is there something about fire hydrants that magnetically draw dogs toward them? Does it have something to do with the fact that fire hydrants spray water and that triggers the dog to have to urinate?
While it’s true that dogs do indeed pee on fire hydrants, the reason has nothing to do with the hydrant itself. It’s all got to do with marking their territory. Dogs (primarily male dogs) will urinate on hydrants, telephone poles or pretty much anything in order to let other dogs know where they’ve been. In the wild, dogs will pee on rocks, trees, or any vertical surface to stake their territorial claim. They lift their legs to show dominance by marking a higher spot.
Because it’s in their nature to mark their territory with urine, when dogs are walked in the city along a sidewalk, fire hydrants are the only upright item available for them to pee on. The hydrant is not special; it’s just more readily available to dogs. And you know how it is, once one dog has peed on something, every other dog has to pee there too. It’s not like dogs look for a fire hydrant to pee on like humans look for “restroom” signs when we have to go.
That being said, fire hydrants have become iconic symbols due to their popularity as urinals for dogs. You can hardly search a pet store without running across some type of pet item in the symbol of or reflecting a fire hydrant.
For example, many stores offer a plastic fire hydrant that is for use outdoors as a storage container with a lid to hold Fido’s dog food or toys. Then there are a gaggle of plush toy fire hydrants, some that even giggle when your pooch plays with them. There are fire hydrant pillows for your pampered pet, dog collars with a fire hydrant design, and a fire hydrant-shaped dispenser for doggie clean-up bags that attached to your dog’s leash for easy poop scooping while you’re walking him.
So there lies the solution to the mystery of the attraction of dogs to red hydrants.