Handling Hounds That Hump
A dog that mounts and humps everything is one of the most frustrating and embarrassing problems many pet owners have to deal with but understanding the reason for the humping can go a long way towards helping to stop the problem.
Oh My God – What is he Doing?There can be nothing worse than inviting visitors to your home only to have your dog launch himself at a nearby sofa cushion and start thrusting his pelvis frantically, amid the horrified stares and embarrassed laughter. Or worse having your dog clinging to your guests’ legs, humping enthusiastically – not to mention the dog who accosts every other dog in the park, trying to mount their heads. Dogs have been known to mount not only other dogs and people but stuffed toys, furniture and any other soft item.
Why is My Dog Humping?Most people instantly jump to the conclusion that their dog’s humping behaviour must be sexual or a form of dominance but in many cases, they are wrong: this is a complex behaviour with many possible causes.
Sexual ReasonsYes, some dogs do actually hump for sexual reasons, especially in unneutered dogs who will respond very strongly to the scent of a female in oestrus. For example, males will mount other males who have just been with females in heat and are covered with their scent; females not in heat may mount those that are and sometimes females in heat will even mount inexperienced males. A sexually aroused dog may simply have the urge to hump and will grab the first thing that comes to hand, even if it is not another dog.
But even neutered and spayed dogs can display sexual humping behaviours, flirtation with the opposite sex and even masturbation. This may shock many pet owners but it is actually quite logical, given that humans do not necessarily stop displaying sexual behaviours just because they have had a vasectomy or a hysterectomy. However, in general, neutered and spayed dogs are much less likely to display humping behaviours therefore if your dog’s mounting behaviour is causing a problem, you may want to consider neutering or spaying as a first course of action.
Social Anxiety or Excessive ExcitementThis is probably one of the most common reasons dogs hump but is often misinterpreted as dominance or sexual behaviour. Often when dogs become very aroused and excited – such as when visitors arrive – they will feel a need to release the excessive tension and energy through humping. If this only occurs once in a while, it may be best simply to laugh it off. However, if your dog consistently harasses guests then it would be good to interrupt his behaviour and prevent him from further mounting by giving him an alternative action to follow, such as a command (eg. “Sit” or “Down”). If it is just too much, you may need to consider putting him in his crate when visitors arrive, at least until he has calmed down slightly. You can also tone down your praise and general excitement when interacting with your dog to prevent hyping him up to unbearable levels.
Similarly, dogs that are feeling very anxious, particularly in the presence of other dogs, may hump to release their tension. This is often mistaken for displays of dominance when in fact, it may be the complete opposite. Dominant dogs tend to be confident, secure individuals who rarely have assert themselves – it is the middle-ranking, anxious dogs who most often get into fights and try to hump other dogs. If your dog is routinely trying to hump other dogs, then this can be a sign that the situation is too much for him and he is feeling overwhelmed by social pressure. You should then think about removing him from such situations in future (perhaps go to the dog park at a quieter time) – aside from anything else, a dog that keeps coping with their social anxiety by humping other dogs risks eventually meeting a dog who will respond in an aggressive manner.