Why Do Dogs Hump?
Why Do Dogs Hump Toys and Legs?
Why does my dog hump? Why do dogs mount other dogs? Why does my dog hump his bed?
As a professional dog trainer and author, I hear these questions at least once a week. Yes, you read that correctly, weekly. This dog blog post has been on my to-do list for quite some time. So, today is the day when I will finally give you my two cents on why dogs hump. As with most dog training and behavior questions, it is never the same answer or reason for each dog. There are a lot of variables, and considerations when trying to figure out why your dog humps or mounts either you, another dog, the air or an object such as his bed or toys. I will go over various reasons to this age-old question. First, both male and female dogs mount. Second, spayed/neutered and unaltered dogs all mount. Third, all ages of dogs hump.
- Play-A dog will often mount during play, or even as an invitation to play. When dogs are aroused (not sexual, just excited), they often can be seen redirecting that excitement onto something else. Puppies are often seen mounting or clasping during play. I know from experience, this is one of the biggest times I see my own dog, Dexter humping. Dexter is notorious for doing this in the middle of a big game of tug, chase, almost any game he finds really fun. His favorites are the cat bed and a pillow.
- Anxiety or Stress-When a dog is stressed, anxious, or unsure, they often perform what we call displacement gestures. A simple way to think of a displacement gesture is when a dog doesn’t know what to do because of conflicting emotions, so they do something out of place. Mounting, sniffing, walking away, lip licking, these are all common displacement gestures. Once again, I can recall my golden retriever, Theo doing this in times of stress. He had separation anxiety, and when he would see me getting my things together, he would often air hump. Like Dexter, he also did this when over aroused during play, except he air humped, and did not use an object.
- Dominance or Control-I think these two can be lumped together for this purpose. There are those times when a dog may mount to control a situation. This can be seen on both sides of a coin, to dominate, or just to get control, or stop a behavior.
- Sexual or Mating-Obviously this is one of the reasons a dog may mount, or attempt to hump.
So what does all this mean to the dog parent? Knowing why a dog is doing something is always key in determining a course of action if any. Humping can become a compulsive behavior, so it’s always a good idea to stop it from continuing before it gets out of hand. However, you want to be kind, gentle, and not make a huge deal out of it, or it can actually escalate.
For play mounting, throwing in some obedience-type behaviors to settle a dog down can be helpful. A sit, stay, down, stay are good ones to add. For my monkey of a dog, Dexter, I toss the bed and pillow in the closet when I play, Dexter is a very obsessive boy!
All dog anxiety needs to be addressed for the welfare of the dog. I worked with Theo on his separation anxiety, and also calmly had him do a down/stay to settle him down.
Dominance or control mounting is usually because a dog is put in a situation where he actually doesn’t feel secure in. Slow introductions, and taking things easy are helpful.
There you have it. Those are some of the most common reasons dogs hump and what you can do about it. When it’s all said and done, it’s a very NORMAL dog behavior, so don’t get too stressed about it.
Is your dog guilty of this normal doggie behavior? Let me know in the comments.
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6 thoughts on “Why Do Dogs Mount or Hump?”
It can also be attention-seeking behaviour. If they do this to their toy, for example, and their human stops what they’re doing, looks over and laughs and even comes over and try and take the toy away (which can result in a tug game), the dog learns this behaviour gains attention whether it be visual, vocal or touch.
Absolutely, Catherine! I tie that into play. 🙂
My dog humps his pillow every night. He eats his last meal, he goes humps his pillow for a while and then he settles down for the night. It is like a routine. It isn’t part of play, dominance or mating….so is this a display of anxiety that I should worry about?
Hi, Miko. Would you say your dog is anxious during feeding time? If not, I would guess he just found a routine. He may have started it from a play/content place in the beginning. If you would like to stop it, after dinner, ask him to do a little play with you. Very little, you don’t want him to get bloat or puke. Maybe a few tricks then a sniff outside.
My 3 year old Morkie grabs my arm with both front paws when I am sitting down on the sofa as if he is going to hump me when he REALLY has to go outside and do #2, never when it’ s just #1. Those times he either comes and looks at me or goes to the back door. It’s bothersome when we have company….some people get upset over it. Now I try to just pry him off and put him on the floor and hurry and stand up so he can’t reach my arm and I say a stern NO! followed by let’s go outside. Not sure what else to do.
Take him potty more often. I try to potty my dog before they need to go.
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