Why do dogs HUMP?

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WHY do they do that?! Humping…

Oh dear, you have guests over and your dog is a little too friendly! Some dogs hump people’s legs, their toys, pillows, blankets, humps Uncle Joe’s leg but not Uncle Sam’s or maybe you have that dog in puppy class who tries it on the other puppies! The unwanted affection causes embarrassment and uncomfortable laughter. But why is the dog doing it?

Humping, or mounting, is a completely normal and natural behaviour for a dog. Both male and female dogs do it and both entire and desexed dogs do it. Puppies do it from as young as 6 weeks of age before sexual development. There is not a single straight forward answer as to why dogs hump. It depends on the situation and there can be many different reasons for it. I have two dogs currently – a desexed male and a desexed female. Some are surprised when they find out it’s the female that mounts – she does it in play and she is also the more dominant dog during play. Let’s have a look at some of the possible reasons behind a dog that is mounting people, objects or other dogs.

  1. One of the most common reasons that people like to talk about is dominance. Dogs sometimes mount each other to display social status and control. However, I personally think dominance is blamed a lot for things it isn’t responsible for.
  2. Sexual behaviour. When mounting for sexual reasons, the behaviour is often accompanied by “flirtatious” behaviours such as tail up, ears back, play bows, licking and pawing. Desexing doesn’t always make a difference and many desexed dogs both male and female still mount and hump.
  3. Play behaviour. Mounting is part of normal play behaviour. Some dogs that haven’t had adequate socialisation as puppies can get over excited and carried away with their behaviour in response to another dog starting play. They don’t seem to know appropriate boundaries and body language during play.
  4. Stress, anxiety or excitement. Some dogs cope with stressful situations by mounting and humping objects or nearby dogs and people.
  5. Compulsive disorders. Mounting can become a compulsive habit, especially if the dog is doing it to cope with stress. This can be a real problem when it interferes with the dog’s normal functioning.

These are just some of the common reasons for mounting. What should you do about it? If you are really uncomfortable with it or you think it could become a serious bad habit, distract and interrupt your dog each time it starts. Never laugh. Dog’s find laughter very reinforcing and it can make the habit more ingrained. If you have a new puppy, interrupt the mounting each time and focus your pup’s behaviour onto something else and you will usually find it goes away.

 

 

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