Dogs humping … it’s a behavior that makes pet parents either super uncomfortable, embarrassed, confused, or a little entertained. Sometimes they’re wrapping their front paws around another canine to get in a few good hip thrusts. Other times it’s a squeaky toy or pillow. And then there are those moments where the intended mounting post is your hand or leg. Whatever the case, humping or mounting is natural for all dogs. Yes, all dogs. That means you’ll see the behavior from both males and females, intact or altered (spayed/neutered).
But the real question is: Why do dogs hump? Read on for the common motives!
You may have expected this one! Humping or masturbating is often a sexual behavior. Now here’s something that you may not have expected: Sexually motivated humping isn’t only an intact (non-neutered) male thing. Neutered males can also experience such sexual arousal and can actually display erections and ejaculate just like intact males. Additionally, intact and altered females also exhibit sexually motivated humping.
According to the ASPCA:
“Sexually motivated mounting and masturbation are often accompanied by ‘flirtatious’ body language and courtship behavior (tail up, ears rotated backward, licking, pawing, play bows, etc.).”
Some dogs mount as a way to display their social status, exerting both power and control. If dominance is the motive, experts say a male dog may or may not get an erection, but he is unlikely to ejaculate.
Over-Excited During Play Time
Sometimes, if a dog gets super excited during play, he may have the urge to mount another dog or object. When this behavior happens every once in a while then it’s viewed as completely normal. If, however, this happens during every play session then it may be a sign of an undersocialized dog.
For some dogs, mounting is their trigger response to feeling stressed, nervous, or anxious. According to the AKC:
“Masturbating can become a compulsive habit, especially if a dog does it in response to stress.”
If your dog is humping your arm or leg, he may be trying to get your attention.
While humping, mounting, or masturbating is usually a normal and relatively harmless dog behavior, there are certain instances where it could be the result of a medical condition. If you notice your dog excessively mounting things and licking himself then talk to your vet. The following medical conditions have been linked to such behavior:
- Urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Skin allergies
- Priapism in males (persistent and painful erections)
How To Prevent Your Dog From Humping
While you’ve heard me refer to humping or mounting as a normal behavior, that doesn’t mean you should encourage it! Here are some tips to help you prevent it:
- Socialize your puppy
- Make sure your dog is exerting enough energy during the day by scheduling time for exercise.
- If you notice warning signs that your dog is about to hump another dog or object, distract him/her with a game of fetch or starting a training session.
- Teach the “leave it” command – and call it out when you see your pooch getting ready to mount another dog, person, or object.
- In extreme cases, consult with a behaviorist.