Why Dogs Pee on Tires

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Dogs pee on tires.
Where are the tires? Where, huh? Where!

It’s a given. Dogs pee on tires. Unfortunately, the public guess as to the reason for the action has been accepted as a given.

This is probably due to the assumption that a dog pees on tires for the same reason or reasons it pees on trees or on fire hydrants. But there is a common bumper sticker that discusses our tendency to assume.

Common Sense Isn’t Always Right

No, I’m not convinced such a weak conclusion is totally accurate. I think there’s more to it. On approaching a tree, a male dog is nonchalant – whereas they demonstrate real zeal when they spy an automobile tire. You can be sure a dog is more than willing to travel past a tree to baptize a tire. What is so special about a tire?

Well what gains the immediate attention of a dog as you walk it? Is it not some wonderful aroma, such as a dried-up animal poop or a long-dead animal or other yummy food prospect? Odors attract them. Recall that a dog has about as excellent a sense of smell as you are likely to find in the pet world. So what smells about a tire?dogs pee on tires

Some would claim a tire carries the smell of other dogs that have done the same thing. And the smell of another dog – a dog never previously encountered – is of particular interest to a dog. Others claim that it is the odors of the road that makes dogs pee on tires. I’m am not convinced either explanation affords the true answer.

Another Reason Dogs Pee on Tires?

What do I, as a chemist, suggest is a generally overlooked possibility? I suggest it is the smell of the rubber itself, from which the tire is made. Man-made rubber is derived from a host of laboratory chemicals, any number of which may appeal to the nose of a dog.

What I would suggest by way of identifying which of the chemicals is causing the response is to isolate each chemical and putting some on a series of tree trunks, then walking a dog on a leash to each of the trees and observing the zeal of his response. No need to applaud folks, just toss money. Thank you, and I wish you a good day…

Note: You might also enjoy Cats and Dogs Instinctive Behavior – One Difference


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15 thoughts on “Why Dogs Pee on Tires

  • Meg Learner

    That’s a very credible possibility. I wonder if different tyres have different chemicals of which some are more attractive to dogs than others.

    • I would say most certainly, Meg. Most certainly. While there may not be huge differences, certainly different manufacturers are going to manufacture their products at least a little differently. I do think, as a generality, there would be nothing so desirable to a dog as a lovely FRESH tyre (when in Rome, you know…).

  • Robert G. Chester

    I grew up around the tire factories in Akron, Ohio, and I have to tell you, there is nothing like the pungent smell of fresh rubber. That said, I’d be more interested in a chemical that would discourage a dog from marking my tires than vice-versa.

    • A highly valued comment, Robert. I would love to know the particular chemicals that impart such strong odors. Or, rather, the chemicals that draw a dog’s attention. Not that I would do anything with the knowledge. I’m just curious. And I understand your desire, believe me.

  • Charlie

    I dont own a dog but i have walked one, and I have the feeling the dog is compelled to pee somewhere because some other dog has peed there.

    If you leave your urine in the toilet for too long you smell the ammonia, and ammonia is used in the rubber industry for “stabilization of natural and synthetic latex to prevent premature coagulation”. Another thing that is common is sulfur but maybe its only when you have too much asparagus.

    • You know: whether or not you are correct in your thought, I appreciate it because you have presented a possibility to be considered, evaluated. Any chemical, in order to smell, has to possess some degree of volatility, or molecules never reach the nasal passages to be smelled! Ammonia certainly falls in that category. I feel certain it is smell that draws them.

  • Robert

    If a dog peed only because a previous dog had, there would never be a first dog peeing. Must not be that argument although it may be a contributing factor later. Female dogs are attracted as well and they don’t mark space.

  • Ross

    I think you are correct about the rubber.
    I found your page because I was searching for why they like rubber. Hoping someone had isolated the compound. I may try it myself.
    The dogs appear to prefer rubber that is stretchable over plastic or harder rubbers.
    I first started chasing this trail when our young dog would pee on our exercise ball regularly, we have had several and always the same problem. They are in the same room and no other dogs or people had been around. He would also pee on the softer rubber sports balls (the red rubber dodge ball types) outside. Usually not soccer balls or basketballs, although there was one more rubberized basketball he liked.

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