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How Can I Stop My Dog from Humping Other Dogs?

As much as we love our dogs; sometimes, they do things that embarrass us. While some of these habits are simply a matter of forgotten manners, others are instinctual behaviors bred into our canine companions over centuries of their history. Though we may not understand the motivation behind some of our fave pooch’s seemingly odd behaviors, there are always logical reasons to explain any canine action. If your dog chooses to hump other dogs, it no doubt causes your face to turn crimson red with embarrassment. Though, for you, it is a matter of proper etiquette for Fido to cease this behavior; for him, it is a little more complex. If your dog likes to hump other dogs, what can be done to stop it? 

Why dogs hump other dogs?
If you are an owner with a dog who likes to get a little…ahem…amorous…when other dogs come around, it won’t be long before you’re too embarrassed to take your little Don Juan anywhere in public. It is interesting to note that humping is a behavior that is not specific to male dogs. Female dogs will also mount other dogs from time to time. The action is also not limited only to dogs who are intact. Neutered males and spayed females are also known to engage in humping.

Part of being able to solve a problem is understanding the motivation behind the behavior. By getting to the root cause of why Fido decides to hump every dog he comes in contact with, you can establish a protocol to help him learn a more socially appropriate behavior.

Here are some of the leading reasons why dogs sometimes hump other dogs:

  • Play style
    When puppies first start exploring their world and learning social interactions, they will often hump their littermates. This is not sexual in nature as the puppies are far too young to be sexually mature. It is simply part of their learning process. If the behavior is not discouraged by a puppy’s littermates, it can become an ingrained part of his regular play routine. Though this is essentially harmless, it can pose a problem if the dog attempts to mount older dogs who are not appreciative of the behavior and who may view it as threatening. 
  • Stress/Excitement
    When a dog becomes emotionally overstimulated, it can trigger the response to hump. This action provides the dog with a sense of comfort and control. Dogs who obsessively hump other dogs are often dogs who are extremely uncomfortable with the situation they find themselves in and are most often mentally stimulated to a point that is unhealthy.
  • Always bear in mind that stress doesn’t only come in negative forms. If your dog is excited about a visitor at the door or even a new toy, you may find him attempting to hump another dog in the family. 
  • Presence of an unusual odor
    The smell of a female in heat triggers a very powerful response in both male and female dogs. However, certain other smells can mimic the fragrance of a female in standing heat. Dogs who suffer from yeast infections or even who carry home an unusual fragrance from playing with other dogs or visiting a new place might find themselves the recipients of some amorous behavior that is less than welcome.
  • Habit
    Mounting can quickly become a learned behavior. If this is the case, the dog will begin to hump other dogs almost subconsciously. Once this action has reached the level of a habit, it is more challenging to change. 
  • Dominance”
    Though dominance is a highly charged word and the concept itself is largely misunderstood, there are times when dominance does come into play in the dog world. Some dogs will attempt to mount other dogs in an attempt to find out where they fit in the “pecking order” of a social situation. If the dog they attempt to hump easily allows the behavior, the dog who initiated the humping may take that as a sign of submission. Dogs who snap in response to being mounted would be interpreted as a dog in a higher position in the hierarchy.
  • Sexual behavior
    The truth is sometimes humping IS a sexual behavior. Dogs are wired with an incredibly powerful drive to reproduce themselves. However, dogs do not initiate sexual play without believing that a female dog is prepared to become impregnated. This means that humping as a sexual behavior is seen a lot less frequently than many would believe. Dogs are not like human beings who seek out sexual acts for pleasure alone. Dogs engage in intercourse for the sole purpose of reproduction. With this in mind, a male dog motivated sexually will only attempt to mount a female dog when she is giving off the scent that tells him she is fertile.

How to stop a Happy Humper

Since humping is a behavior that can be very ingrained in a dog, it can be challenging to eliminate entirely. Here are some things you can attempt to help your dog learn more socially appropriate behavior:

  • Consider redirection.
    Often the best course of action to change a behavior you dislike is redirection. By changing your dog’s focus to something different, you will be able to engage him in another activity that will help him to forget what he was previously up to. You will want to be certain that whatever you do to distract your best canine pal that it is extremely high value. If you do not use something that “ups the ante,” you may find your dog gets bored easily and goes back to doing what he was doing in the first place—humping! 
  • Spay or neuter your dog.
    At the very least, spaying or neutering your dog will remove the desire and ability to reproduce. This may or may not have an effect on the humping as it is possible it could have become a learned behavior and thus will carry on long after the hormonal insistence has been removed. 
  • Remove your dog from the situation.
    Dogs who hump other dogs are at risk for starting a fight. Watch your dog very carefully when he is playing with other dogs. Don’t allow him or her to be a “bully.” Even dogs who accept humping passively may become extremely irritated. It may be necessary for the safety of both dogs to simply interrupt the play and remove your dog from the situation even for a short period of time.

If your dog is humper, you know how embarrassing it can be! But don’t lose hope. Try some of our top tips to help your little canine paramour to learn more socially appropriate behavior! His other canine pals will thank you for it.

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