Why Does My Dog Hump?

Humping is a common behaviour in dogs. Contrary to a lot of peoples’ misconception, humping or mounting is not just a dominant or sexual behaviour. We may see humping behaviour when dogs are playing, fighting, during mating and even when they are alone with us or bored.

When dogs play, they are constantly incorporating a multitude of behaviours in different sequences. When playing, dogs can display natural behaviours like: chasing, stalking, and pouncing which are cues displayed when hunting; mouthing and wrestling which are fighting behaviours; and humping which is a sexual cue.

Play behaviour may be important practice for real life situations. Due to behavioural cues used in the play sequence of behaviours, well-socialised dogs are able to identify that play is all about fun.

When dogs fight, one dog will tend to try and overpower the other. Mounting is a way of doing this, as it uses the dog’s full body weight to subdue the opponent.

Humping behaviour is often a sign of energy arousal in dogs. They may be playing a game with you and when you settle down or ignore them, they begin to hump your leg or a nearby cushion. This is an energy release and, while it does little harm, it can be annoying for owners.

Some dogs will hump through boredom or frustration too. This may indicate that they are stressed or anxious and owners should provide appropriate stimulation for their dog. They may also demonstrate mounting behaviour as a displacement activity, a signal that the dog is not coping with the current situation; just like humans, when we display displacement cues such as playing with our jewellery, checking our watches and, most common, constantly looking at our phones.

Another common reason why dogs hump is attention-seeking. If this is the case, you may need to look whether your dog is getting enough mental and physical exercise.

Why does my desexed dog hump?
Dogs can demonstrate mounting behaviour, even if they are desexed. This is because mounting or humping is a behaviour not only associated with the mating sequence of behaviours, but can also be demonstrated during play, during fighting, in times of frustration or when the dog is trying to attract attention from the owner.

Why do female dogs hump?

Both male and female dogs can demonstrate mounting behaviour. Females may demonstrate mounting behaviour for all the same reasons as desexed male dogs do – during play, during fights, when frustrated to release energy or even to get their owner’s attention!

How to stop dogs humping
The best way to stop your dog humping is to prevent the behaviour from happening. Work out when your dog is likely to start mounting and direct their energy on to a more appropriate activity, such as walking with you or doing some training together.

If your dog is annoying other dogs with their mounting behaviour, then it is up to you to step in and take charge of your dog. Owners should not feel embarrassed by this natural canine behaviour but need to prevent other dogs getting hurt or annoyed. If both dogs are happy with the situation, then no need to interfere but always keep an eye on dogs playing together, as situations can change quickly.

If your dog has already started humping your cushions at home, then you should try to ignore the behaviour or distract your dog and direct their energy on to another activity. If your dog humps your friends, best control your dog’s movements by putting your dog on a lead and rewarding calm behaviour.

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