Dog humping… You might have experienced this situation, which can be either funny embarrassing! You were chatting with another dog parent, sitting on a bench in the dog park, Fido was frolicking with his fellow canines, and everything was fine. When suddenly, it happened. You see your pooch frenetically humping another dog. Some people might find it funny, after all a dog humping a leg or a pillow can be rather comical, but it can upset some people. For what it’s worth, many dogs have a “humping addiction,” even – especially – the famous Marley, who was allegedly very fond of French poodles.
“The topic draws giggles and laughs, but it’s a very real topic for some people,” Dr. David Spiegel, VMD, says. “Some dogs can become very compulsive about the behavior.” While, humping is usually sexual in nature for unneutered or unsprayed dogs, in older it can be a sign of anxiety, excitement, or dominance. However, only be alarmed if this behavior is not taken to extremes.
Humping knows no gender and is done by both males and females, even unneutered and unspayed ones, though it is less common. “It can become enjoyable or a normal part of the dog’s day, so it keeps doing it. It’s the same as jumping up or barking at the door,” says Dr. Gary Landsberg, DVM, a veterinary behaviorist in Ontario, Canada.
Canine behavior specialists suggest tackling the problem as soon as it appears. Don’t do the common mistake of letting your puppy do it because it’s cute and funny. Distract him with an alternative behavior, like playing with a toy. Neutering your dog will decrease mounting problems but in older dogs, where it has become a chronic behavior, specialists recommend obedience training. Indeed, humping can be relating to heightened excitement levels, so training can take the excitement level down and help you keep your pooch calmer. As mentioned previously, humping can also be a common dominance act for dogs, although the “humper” is not necessarily the dominant. In fact, dogs that are unsure of their place in the pack are more likely to hump to see how many dogs will accept the behavior, a move that can lead to fights with other dogs.
Some types of humping are easier to deal with than others, the experts say. When a dog is humping a person, the person should just get up and walk away, which teaches the dog that this is an unacceptable behavior. When they mount other dogs, owners should separate them, and keep the dogs apart when they can’t be supervised. Some people also never managed to get their dog to stop and had to learn to live with it. “Some dogs are just more sexually driven,” Dr. Spiegel says.
But it can be a very difficult habit to break when dogs hump objects, such as pillows or toys. In those cases, experts recommend keeping the dogs on a strict schedule, which lessens anxiety, and giving them lots of exercise, so they are too tired to get into trouble.
And if all else fails, let the dog have its favorite pillow or toy once or twice a day, in private, “But in our culture it’s not acceptable to let your dog hump other dogs or people. It’s rude,” says Dr. Spiegel.