Billings_iStock_000009502242_LargeIt always seems like it happens at the most inopportune moment: Your grandmother is over for dinner, or your kids are hosting a neighborhood playdate. Then, out of nowhere, your normally well-behaved family pet mounts a toy or, worse yet, one of your visitors.

What makes dogs engage in this embarrassing behavior? Most pet owners have wondered at some point why dogs hump and what they can do about it. Keep reading to become an expert in this common doggy indiscretion.

Why Dogs Hump Things

While we commonly think of dog mounting and humping as a sexual behavior, it isn’t always. This is why the behavior persists in neutered males and even female pooches. The reasons why dogs hump can be multifactorial. Dogs exhibit humping behaviors due to:

  • Sexual instincts – Many animals still retain their sexual instincts, even if neutered or spayed. Mounting that is sexually motivated can cause a pet to mount other dogs, objects, or even people.
  • Play behavior – Mounting can occur during normal play behavior, especially for dogs who are not well versed in communicating with other canine friends. It may also be an outlet for boredom.
  • Social communication – When a dog mounts another dog, it can be a way of exerting dominance or control over the other pet.
  • Stress or excitement – Some dogs are not well equipped to deal with stressful or very exciting situations such as meeting a new friend and may mount in response. These dogs are often suffering from a form of social anxiety.
  • Compulsive behavior problems – Less commonly a dog may develop a sort of obsessive compulsive type disorder. This is diagnosed when excessive mounting or masturbating behaviors interfere with the pet’s normal day to day function.
  • What to do if Your Dog Humps Things

    To a certain extent, mounting and humping behaviors are normal for dogs. If it isn’t happening often and is not causing any issues, it really isn’t necessary to interfere at all.

    Likewise, if your dog normally does not display this behavior and starts to with some frequency, it may be worth bringing him or her in for a check-up. Medical problems such as urinary tract infections and allergies can cause a pet to pay more attention than normal to his or her nether regions.

    If your dog’s mounting behaviors are bothersome and there is no medical problem, you may wish to try:

  • Neutering your pet if he is an intact male to reduce his sexual instincts
  • Spaying your pet if she is an intact female
  • Teach your dog to “leave it” to discourage him or her from mounting people or other pets
  • Distracting your pet before the behavior starts with toys, treats, or games
  • Interrupting the behavior if it is directed at you (turn away, push him or her off, sit down) and giving him or her a short time out from interaction with you
  • Teaching him or her to “sit” when you see the behavior coming on
  • Increasing your dog’s exercise and mental stimulation
  • Avoid making interactions more stressful or exciting than necessary
  • If you think your dog’s behavior may be compulsive, please seek our help. We can help you with behavioral suggestions. Some pets need to take medications to curb this type of behavior as well.

    Humping is an embarrassing but often misunderstood behavior. Not all of it is sexual. Understanding why your dog exhibits this behavior is key to helping stop it if necessary.  If you are having problems with your pet, please do not hesitate to ask us for help. We are happy to help better the relationship between you and your dog in any way possible.