Possibly one of the most embarrassing dog behaviors, you may have observed your puppy do so pretty often. There's almost no limit to the things our pooches find it reasonable to hump. And, of course, the embarrassment you feel from the behavior is always second to none.
So why do puppies hump? Is this behavior normal? How do you stop a dog from humping? We'll discuss all of that and more in this article. If you have questions or thoughts at the end, share them in the comment section below.
Why Do Dogs Hump?
A usually harmless behavior, you may notice that your dog humps almost anything on its path; the couch, stuffed animals, other pets in the home, or even a human's leg. And it's even more embarrassing when they do it on or in front of visitors.
A few may understand the behavior with the latter, but for many others, especially those not particularly fond of canines, it is as shocking as it is embarrassing. In the following few paragraphs, I'll discuss why your pooch may be humping everything in sight. Your pet does not necessarily have to tick every reason stated here; just one or two should give you a solid clue on the reason for your dog's not-so-endearing behavior.
Why Dogs Hump
Humping isn't always a mating or sexual behavior. Our pooches can hump for non-sexual reasons too. The behavior is pretty common. Your pooch may hump on your legs, other animals, or on objects as a way to release accumulated stress or burn off excessive energy (can be noticed in large breeds). It is entirely expected, especially if your pooch does not get enough outdoor exercise. Your dog can let out the excess by rechanneling the energy to regular training and energetic outdoor activities.
Your dog may also hump when seeking your attention or simply bored of a particular activity or inactivity. If you notice that this may be the case with your dog, you should try to provide it with adequate mental and physical stimulation exercises. You should also give it as much attention as possible to help stop or keep the humping to a minimum.
Don't have the time for it? You can enroll your dog at a doggy daycare or have someone help you walk it for a token while you're away or unable to.
It is common for unspayed dogs to hump on objects, your leg, or other dogs or pets due to hormonal or sexual reasons. If your dog is unneutered and humps another intact dog, they may end up mating. Keep unneutered dogs away from each other if you do not want mating or breeding to occur.
If, on the other hand, your unneutered puppy humps a spayed dog, the reason may or may not be sexual, and conception cannot occur. Your dog may also sexually hump objects as a form of masturbation. If this is a frequent occurrence, you should seriously consider getting your dog neutered. While this is effective most of the time, you should understand that if this behavior canines develop before neutering, they may continue it even after the procedure.
Though not often a cause, medical problems still have to be ruled out when trying to understand why your pup humps. Our pups may hump when suffering from specific medical issues, including skin allergies, UTIs, irritations, and persistent erection (priapism). You may notice it either rubbing against objects or licking its genital area with any of these issues. If you suspect that this might be the reason for your pooch's frequent humping, you should consult a vet or an expert dog handler for a professional diagnosis.
Dogs Hump at Play
Our pooches can sometimes hump when playing. This is entirely normal if both dogs are of the exact sizes, and none of them is upset or in discomfort from the activity.
This is common, just like play fighting, and unless a dog shows signs of discomfort, there may be no need to break it up.
When Humping Becomes a Problem
Again, humping is often harmless and even healthy in unneutered dogs. Dogs can hump each other at play and for other non-sexual reasons. It should not be a cause for concern if the dogs involved seem comfortable with the behavior.
However, some puppies may not like the behavior and will try to run to you to avoid being mounted.
If this is the case with any of your dogs, consider applying some training to prevent problems that could lead to violent conflict in your absence. To successfully do this, you should curb the behavior early (puppy stage is best) or as soon as you observe it or observe the other dog's discomfort with the behavior.
Try not to wait too long to check the behavior, or it could become a difficult habit to break in the long run.
How to Stop a Dog From Humping
As often as harmless as this behavior may be, it is not the prettiest sight. It is also worse if your dog frequently does this outside to visitors or other canines that are uncomfortable with it. The latter is one easy recipe for serious dog fights and injuries, and you don't want that. Thankfully, this behavior can be trained out or managed successfully with some exercises. Below are some practical solutions for humping in dogs.
Physically and Mentally Stimulating Exercises
Is your dog stressed or bored from being alone for too long? Is it getting enough exercise? Any of these could be the reason for its frequent humping.
Large breed dogs, in particular, require more exercise, so take out time each day to walk your dog in the park or have someone do it for you if you're too busy to commit to regular exercises.
Address the Behavior Immediately
While exercises and other energy rechanneling or energy-burning activities will help, one highly effective way to manage this behavior is to address it as soon as it occurs. It is highly recommended if your pooch humps habitually.
When it's at it, call out its name and instruct it to stop with simple words like "stop"," come," or "off". You don't want to confuse your dog, so remember to use the same command words every time.
If it stops the humping at your instruction, you want to reinforce the good behavior by rewarding it with a favorite toy, a small treat, or even a show of affection.
Even if your puppy fails the training at the onset, continue to be generous with your praise and show of affection whenever it obeys your instructions.
Keep Mounting Opportunities Minimal
Consider minimizing your pooch's mounting opportunities. Don't yell or fuss over it, or your dog could associate your yelling with getting your attention, and you don't want to give another reason for more "bad behavior" when already trying to break one.
Instead of yelling or fussing, calmly remove your dog from its current area to another place. You can keep it busy in the new location with a small treat, chewy toys, or any other object that grabs and holds your dog's attention for as long as needed.
Another thing you can do to prevent this behavior around visitors is kept your dog in its crate or a separate area until your visitors leave.
Get Your Dog Professional Help
While it is possible to break a dog's humping habit at home, it is not always the case. Some dogs will not drop a habit quickly, and unless you get a professional's help, you may have to live with this behavior.
If you don't know any, ask friends and family to help you recommend a professional dog trainer or an expert dog behaviorist. You should be able to find one quickly, but if you're unable to or cannot afford the cost, you may have to make do with the home training.
In this case, you should keep your eyes open to avoid situations where humping could be problematic. You can do this by learning your dog's triggers, when and where it frequently humps, and doing all you can to prevent embarrassing occurrences.
Why Dogs Hump: Conclusion
Again, humping is a natural behavior in canines and puppies especially. However, it is one that easily embarrasses many canine owners. Even though not often sexual, not a few people will find a dog humping at the legs or on objects highly offensive. And it's worse if the animal in question does this regularly.
Thankfully, you can manage this behavior with some simple steps, and I listed some important ones above. If none of the above seems to work or is taking too long to prove worthwhile, you should seek professional help. Also, ensure that you seek a professional's help if your pooch humps are still unclear.
Finally, because sexual humping is more common among younger unneutered dogs, many dog experts and behaviorists recommend neutering or spaying for mating-related humping. That said, you should only neuter your dog when they are old enough for it. Until then, patiently try to train out the behavior and apply other anti-humping techniques discussed here.
About the Author
Kirsten created The Pet Handbook with the aim of sharing her knowledge about pets, pet food, healthy habits, and more. All of her advice is based on years of her own experience with her pets, and feedback that she has received from grateful readers about her tips. If you want to know more please read the About Me page.