How to Stop Dog Humping

I have had a surprising number of questions lately regarding, of all things, how to stop dog humping! So, let’s talk about it! Though a dog humping an object, another dog, or a human is a part of many off-color jokes, cartoons, TV shows, and even a toy named Humphrey – it’s a real situation that most dog owners encounter and it is embarrassing. 

Fortunately it is possible to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of this awkward behavior.

 

Dog Humping is Complicated

stop dog humping

First off, you need to understand that dog humping is not usually a sexual act. Both male and female dogs will hump, even if they have been spayed or neutered. In most situations mounting behavior is a show of dominance or insecurity. 

Regardless of why the dog humping issue is happening, it is generally inappropriate and rude. The one time when humping may not be considered inappropriate (aside from breeding) is if your alpha dog is laying ground rules for a new dog in the home. However, this should have to occur only once or twice to establish the new pack order. 

If it happens more than that, or the mounting behavior triggers a disagreement, then the human, as pack leader, needs to intervene. It is both an instinct and a learned behavior. Meaning, in order for our dogs to survive, they have to have the instinct to procreate. 

But, it is also a learned behavior that many puppies pick up while playing with their littermates. It is not rare to see 5 and 6 week old puppies humping one another and their toys. This pairs that instinct along with playful and learned behaviors from when they are very young.dog humping has many causes

Often, the most dominant and self-assured puppies are the ones humping, although usually all of the puppies get involved at some point. And, I personally like a self-assured puppy, meaning this certainly wouldn’t keep me from adopting a certain puppy (as long as there were no other warning or anger signs). I don’t, however, want a puppy that gets overly aggressive when he humps, this is a bad sign in my opinion and will denote further struggles and aggression with training.

 

Why Do Dogs Hump?

This is what the AKC has to say about Why Dogs Hump and their suggestions for resolving this dog behavior problem.

“Why Puppies and Dogs Hump/Mount and How to Stop This Behavior

Here are several different reasons why dogs and puppies mount and solutions to correct the problem in each case:why do dogs hump?

  • They’re excited. Humping can be a sign of extreme excitement and is a common behavior seen in play, especially in places like dog parks. To correct: Experts at the AKC GoodDog! Helpline recommend intervening and temporarily removing the dog from the situation until he calms down. It’s important to do so while the dog is still mounting the other dog to ensure that he understands that the humping behavior is not acceptable. Never hit or physically punish your dog for this or any other unwanted behavior.

 

  • They’re stressed. Dogs who are feeling nervous or anxious may also mount other dogs or even objects near them, like a throw pillow. To correct: As mentioned above, by intervening and removing your dog from the situation, you’ll teach him that this behavior is not wanted. Also, work to identify what might be causing your dog stress. You’ll likely also notice him panting, yawning, or showing other lesser-known signs of anxiety if that is the cause for the behavior. Some severe cases will need to be treated by a veterinary behaviorist, possibly with medication.

 

  • They want attention. If a dog is humping a person’s leg, it’s likely the person will reach down to push him away or (for small dogs) pick him up. By doing so, that person is rewarding the dog for the behavior. Even by responding with what most owners would see as a clear refusal of attention (e.g., pushing away, scolding), the dog learns that humping will get a response from his owner. To correct: Instead, simply walk away from the dog and ignore him until he settles down and earns your attention. Then, feel free to approach him and offer him praise and/or a treat.

 

  • They want to gain a social status. Mounting can also be a sign of dominance among dogs. According to WebMD, some dogs will even attempt to mount other dogs in a social setting to see which dogs will allow it and which won’t.female dogs hump too 

 

Unfortunately, this behavior can sometimes lead to dog fights and should be discouraged. To correct: Teaching a dog to politely interact with other dogs can be useful in this situation. Dogs, like people, can be socially awkward if not given proper guidance. 

Consider taking a training class or training your dog for a Canine Good Citizen certificate, which touches on politely interacting with another dog. If your dog frequently mounts other dogs in a park or another setting with large groups of canines, it may be necessary to avoid those areas.

 

  • They find it pleasurable. Mounting or humping can also be a sexual behavior, even in dogs who have been spayed or neutered. Puppies may hump as “practice” for future sexual activities and intact dogs may use it as a form of flirting to entice mating. 

 

  • To correctSpaying or neutering a pet dog (one who will not participate in AKC conformation events or used for breeding) may decrease this behavior, especially in males, but it’s common for even sterilized dogs to mount for pleasure. If you’re able to catch him in the act, telling him to “leave it” or separating him from the other dog or toy can be effective. 

 

spaying and neutering reduces dog humping

  • This behavior is difficult to correct if a dog is humping objects while alone (a toy in his crate, for example), in which case it may be necessary to consult with a veterinary behaviorist.

 

  • They have a medical condition. Certain medical conditions, such as urinary tract infections or even allergies, can be causing your dog to hump more often than usual. Also, mental issues, such as a compulsive disorder or extreme anxiety, may be part of the problem. To correct: If you’ve tried training without results or if your dog is humping incessantly, speak to a veterinarian, who may recommend testing or consulting with a behaviorist.

 

How to Prevent Dogs from Mounting/Humping

Three tips to help prevent your dog from humping or mounting:

  • Socialize your puppy. By introducing your puppy to other dogs slowly and in a positive way, a process called socialization, you can oversee his interactions and help nurture his social development, including teaching him to limit or avoid excessive humping during play. If you notice your puppy starting to mount another puppy, distract them with toysor a game to give him an alternative activity.

 

  • Teach “leave it.” By teaching your dog to leave it, you can redirect his attention from the other dog or object before he’s able to mount. This command is useful for your dog to be proficient at anyway as a way to keep him from harm. It’s also a test item for the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title.

 

  • dog trainingWork with an expert. Dogs who hump excessively or who have been performing this behavior regularly for a long time may need to work with a training expert or a veterinary behaviorist. If the behavior is caused by an underlying emotional issue, such as anxiety or a compulsive disorder that may need to be addressed in order to prevent the unwanted behavior.”

 

It is Not Socially Acceptable

The truth about humping, is that, unless you are running a breeding program; it is socially unacceptable. And, I am okay that it is not socially accepted! Dogs do a lot of things, naturally and instinctually, that are socially unacceptable to humans.

I remember, when training Service Dogs for adults and children with disabilities, having to teach our dogs that it is not acceptable to lick their private parts in public. Who wants the dog lying next to your table licking and slurping at himself?

First Things First

First things first, I take HUMAN humping very seriously.don't allow your dog to hump anyone

Humping a human, shows total lack of respect and can lead to that aggression and possession; which can lead to a bite.

I absolutely NEVER, ever allow a puppy or dog to hump any human.

I believe this is a bad indicator behavior, so I am swift and serious when I move in to correct the behavior.

And, if you’d like to see how I’d do that, I made these videos.

I want my dogs to know that there are two essential rules in my house:

 

  • No biting humans
  • No humping humans

 

No exceptions! Both of these rules are essential to having a well behaved and respectable dog.

2 Theories

There are two theories about humping, and I can understand them both.obedience training

Give Them Something Appropriate to Hump

The first is to give them something that can be socially acceptable to hump.

When I was growing up we had a Chow Chow, and SHE loved to hump (yes females hump too).

By giving her, her own large stuffed animal she stopped humping us and our friends.

She also stopped pulling blankets off of the sofa to hump. We realized it was an instinct and gave her an outlet for her instinct and behavior and that kept her from inappropriate humping. If, she would try to hump something she was not supposed to, we would give her, her toy.

Some people don’t care if their dog humps their bed or a large toy; and some of us just don’t want to watch our dogs’ hump anything. Again, I think this is an acceptable human reaction.

Teach Them Not to Hump

Now that I am a bit older, a dog trainer by trade, and have very little tolerance for impulse control problems, this is the solution I prefer and encourage my clients to follow. No matter why your dog is humping it is important that you redirect him to another positive and acceptable behavior, preferably one that makes it impossible for him to mount at the same time. If you can get his attention and call him to you, that is even better. 

However it is sometimes necessary to go over and separate your dog from whatever he is fixated on. Once he is focused on you, give him a command. Giving a command as simple as “sit” or “down” can be enough to distract the dog, especially if the dog has not developed a mounting habit. 

If your dog is really fixated and continues to try humping, you will need to give him a time out in his crate or if you think he will listen, a long down-stay will do the trick. The idea behind this is to remove your dog from the situation to give him the chance to calm the heck down.crate training helps reduce humping

This will work in either situation where your dog is stressed out or showing dominance. 

Dogs that are habitual humpers will often give you a sign that they are about to jump up on someone or something.

Once you figure out these signs, your goal should be to head him off before he has the chance to hump at all. This behavior is compulsive, self-rewarding and there really is no amount of punishment will take that away. 

Therefore, stopping the humping before it begins can help change the behavior more quickly. What is not an acceptable human reaction? Assuming my dog KNOWS not to hump things because I find it offensive. He is another species, my social standards have nothing to do with his behaviors.

Just like jumping on people is not socially acceptable and needs to be taught and reinforced, so does not humping! If my dog starts to hump something, I am going to give him an incompatible behavior. You can’t hump and lie on your bed, so if you grab something to hump, I will command you to lie down or even sit.

 

This Requires Obedience

Yes, yes, this requires training your puppy and effort. Nothing is really simple to fix without it! So once your dog learns to lie down on command and he grabs something to hump, you can give him the command.

At first, it is pretty normal to have to move in take the toy or object and enforce the command. With consistency, your dog will learn to stop humping on command!

Dogs that Hump Other Dogs

Dogs that continually hump or try to hump other dogs is a dog fight waiting to happen.

Eventually he will jump on the wrong dog at the dog park, who will in turn do what he can to prevent your dog from ever mounting him again.mounting behavior

Dogs that mount are not being macho, “sowing their oats,” or being cool. 

They are being rude and stand a good chance of getting hurt.

Heading this behavior off is very important. In addition to taking the dog out of the situation, it may also be necessary to reinforce the fact that you are in charge, not him.

I personally do not advocate pushing my alpha position on my dogs often, but this is one time when I will. 

A controversial topic, which I do not subscribe to, is if alpha roles are at play here. Contrary to popular belief, the alpha wolf does not hump his pack on a regular basis to keep them in line. Alpha roles are a challenge and if your dog decides to meet your challenge, you risk an aggression issue. 

Why do Female Dogs Hump? 

As I mentioned above, I had a female dog that humped – That dog wasn’t an anomaly, believe it or not, female dogs hump too and according to PetMd.com this is why: “One of the biggest misconceptions about dog behavior is that female dogs don’t try to hump people, other dogs, or things. However, humping is normal for both male and female dogs. In fact, female dogs can be just as hump-happy as male dogs.

But there’s a time and a place for dog humping, and it’s usually not when visitors arrive at your home or when you’re meeting new dogs. Fortunately, dogs can learn to behave in most situations unless there’s a medical or significant behavioral problem. 

 Underlying Causes of Female Dog Humping

“Both male and female dogs mount other dogs, people, and objects. Most people don’t realize that this behavior isn’t limited to intact male dogs,” said Dr. Pamela Reid, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Vice President of the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team and the Anti-Cruelty Behavioral Rehabilitation Center. Dogs—both male and female—hump for a variety of reasons:

Sexual Behavior

As you might expect, humping is often a sexual behavior.humping is sometimes sexual behavior

Sexually motivated humping may be accompanied by “flirtatious” body language, such as a raised tail, pawing, and play bows, notes Dr. Reid. H

umping is actually part of dogs’ play behavior. She points out, however, that “some poorly socialized or undersocialized dogs excessively mount other dogs in response to play solicitation.

They don’t understand how to play well and get overaroused during play.”

Stress or Excitement

For some dogs, humping is the most natural response to a tense or exciting situation. When meeting a new dog or new person for the first time stirs a dog up, his or her go-to outlet is to mount the new dog or person, or a nearby piece of furniture, says Dr. Reid.

Social Dominance

Let’s face it, from a dog’s perspective, whether the dog is male or female, humping another dog or person is a pretty good way of trying to establish dominance. There’s also a theory that such dominant behavior occurs in some female dogs because of pre-natal masculinization, says Peter Borchelt, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist, in Brooklyn.

Pre-natal masculinization occurs in mammals that give birth to multiple offspring where the males outnumber the females in the litter and a hormonal transfer occurs during prenatal development, he explains. But there’s no way to know if pre-natal masculinization has occurred unless the dog’s breeding history is known, Dr. Borchelt adds.

dog behaviorCompulsive Behavior Disorders

Humping can become a compulsive behavior, particularly if it’s in response to stressful situations, says Dr. Reid. Like other compulsive behaviors, compulsive mounting behavior can interfere with a dog’s normal functioning.

Attention Seeking

Some dogs will mount people, dogs, or objects to get attention, particularly if they don’t get adequate amounts of exercise and affection at other parts of the day. From a dog’s point of view, negative attention (like being told “no”) is better than no attention at all.

Health Problems 

It’s important to note that medical issues also can cause dogs of both sexes to hump, so a trip to the veterinarian may be in order to rule these issues out. The ASPCA lists medical problems that include urinary tract infections, incontinence, priapism, and skin allergies. These medical issues may also cause a dog to lick the affected areas.”

A Word about Impulse Control

Impulses are defined at a sudden, strong and non-reflexive urge or desire to act. Also defined as a driving or motivating force. Dogs are impulsive creatures. 

They jump when they want to jump, if not taught otherwise they go potty where and when they want, they chase the cat when they desire, they steal food when we leave it out… they do what feels good. They don’t really have the ability to look back and think about consequences.  That is what separates us; we can think about what we will do tomorrow and reflect on what we did yesterday.  

Dogs live in the moment.

Why Impulse Control is Important for Dogs

Many aspects of your dog’s natural instincts are not appropriate or acceptable dog’s behaviors in the human world. Particularly in our households. So teaching him the ability to control his urges to act inappropriately, is such an important part of being a good k9 family member.

If we want our dogs to be welcome guests and to be safe in our communities, we have to teach them impulse control. And the sooner, the better.

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Comments

  1. findley says:

    my male dog, 7 years old likes to hump all the dogs at the dog park,it’s all he wants to do when we get there. he does not hump at any other time or with our other dog. he will not pay attention to me at the park when he’s playing with the dogs..all the dogs are waging their tails and seem not to be bothered by him(corgi/sheltie mix) but owners were upset with me and my dog and we had to leave..could I use a spritz bottle to spray him and distract him??what could work

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    perhaps if he doesn’t have good social skills at the dog park you should keep him on leash so that you can prevent humping or he shouldn’t be allowed at the dog park. .. it doesn’t seem he is using it for play anyway.

    [Reply]

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