You recognize that mischievous look on his face as he begins to shift his weight to his back paws. Everything is moving in slow motion as he lifts his front legs and your levels of embarrassment skip from 0 to 100. He’s doing it again, and it feels like there’s nothing you can do about it.
While it might feel like the most embarrassing thing in the world, humping, or mounting behavior as it is referred to by veterinarians, is a common behavior in dogs. Still, it’s important to understand why dogs do it and in which cases it could be a problem.
Why Do Dogs Hump?
There are a few different reasons for why your dog might start humping.
While humping isn’t necessarily sexual behavior, in some cases it can be. If it starts soon after a male dog reaches sexual maturity (usually when he’s around six to nine months old), it’s likely to be a result of sex hormones such as testosterone. Dogs with high levels of testosterone are prone to hump, particularly in the presence of unspayed female dogs.
Males and females both engage in this behavior, so you may be wondering “why do female dogs hump?” The answer may be similar: If you notice your girl dog humping more when she is in heat, then hormones are also a likely cause.
While spayed and neutered dogs may hump less, this doesn’t mean all humping is related to sexual arousal.
Excitement and Attention
Does your dog have a bestie in the dog park? It’s quite common for your four-legged friend to get excited and start humping when greeting a familiar dog.
Sometimes they even perform this behavior when they see one of their favorite humans. This could be an attempt to get their attention or just one of the many ways of playing.
If every time your dog mounts, you respond by pushing them away, your dog’s excitable mind may interpret this as you wrestling with each other. It’s quite easy to inadvertently reinforce this troubling behavior.
Humping behavior can also be a way for dogs to convey social status. Perhaps your pooch thinks he’s the top dog, and mounting other dogs is a way to demonstrate his alpha status. If this is the case, keep an eye out for additional social signaling such as barging into other dogs and growling.
You’ve probably still got plenty of questions about your dog’s pesky behavior.
Why Do Dogs Hump People?
As we mentioned before, it’s likely to be because they are excited or perhaps even emotionally stimulated. Humping can be a physical outlet for your dog or just a way of seeking attention.
As we all know, dogs can be complicated creatures, and they often mount people who they either really like or feel anxious around. You’ll have to look at your pet’s relationship with the person to better understand why they are acting this way.
Why Do Dogs Hump the Air?
Perhaps your dog used to hump people, animals or objects before being punished for the behavior. If this is the case they may well believe a bit of breathing space is all that was required for this behavior to be socially acceptable. If only it were that simple!
Why Do Dogs Hump Stuffed Animals?
The object of your pooch’s desire may appear to be a pillow, their favorite toy, or a blanket. Whatever the object is, the reason your dog loves to hump it is often excitement or anxiety.
Do you ever crack your knuckles or tap your foot? Humans and dogs can both engage in displacement behavior, which involves a repeated action as an outlet for anxious energy. It might be the same for your dog when he’s humping a stuffed animal.
The truth is this behavior can be soothing for your dog, as long as it only happens for a short period of time and isn’t causing any injuries. It can be a difficult habit to break though, so it is worth keeping your dog on a strict schedule to lessen anxiety. You can also make sure he gets lots of exercise so he doesn’t have enough energy to hump so much!
If it feels like you’re fighting a losing battle, you can let him have his favorite toy or pillow every now and again, although it’s likely you’ll want to do that in private!
Should I Stop My Dog Humping?
Lots of dog owners wonder if they should take action.
Brief, infrequent moments of humping can be completely normal and harmless, but if your dog is spending most of his time humping, and it’s difficult to distract him, it could be a sign of compulsive behavior. This can be problematic and should be addressed sooner rather than later.
Keep an eye on your dog’s health. If he’s also licking his body or showing any other signs of irritation, this humping could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Frequent humping in male dogs can also cause dermatitis on their penis and this can easily lead to other medical issues such as a urinary tract infection.
Evidently, if there’s anything that seems to be stressing your dog out, see if you can remove it from the house, plus remember to make sure he’s getting enough exercise and stimulation.
How Do You Stop Your Dog From Humping?
It’s always easier to stop a behavior from developing when your dog has just started, but regardless, there are always ways to stop your pooch from humping.
If your dog is humping a human, the person in question should walk away to teach them that this isn’t acceptable behavior. Training your dog is always a good idea, especially if your dog is humping in an attempt to dominate. Establishing your authority is a great way to let them know where their place in the pack is. If you’re struggling with this, it could be worth signing up for training classes.
What do magic tricks and stopping your dog from humping have in common? The key to both is distraction. Don’t pull at your dog or punish him, this could add to his anxiety. Instead, redirect him and then give him a toy or play with him in an appropriate way. Once he seems calmer and has engaged in more appropriate behavior, praise him and perhaps even give him a small treat.
Whatever the reason for your dog’s humping, you can add some consistency to his life by switching to Canidae®. Our delicious PURE Real Salmon & Sweet Potato dog food packs premium proteins and healthy fats into a clean recipe that contains just 10 key ingredients. A healthy dog is a happy dog, and the addition of antioxidants, glucosamine and chondroitin gives your best friend’s immune system and joints an extra boost.
Think about switching to Canidae’s delicious recipes today!