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It’s a situation many dog pet parents have experienced at least once — their dog mounts and humps another dog or the leg of one of their guests. Although common, these behaviors can be rather embarrassing for pet parents. It can also result in problems, such as aggressive responses from other dogs. Pet parents can learn the reasons behind mounting behavior in dogs and how to put a stop to it.
There are many reasons behind mounting and humping behaviors in dogs:
While it’s more common in intact males, any dog — intact or spayed/neutered, male or female — can mount and hump other dogs or objects when they’re sexually motivated. Even after being spayed or neutered, dogs may continue the behaviors because they’ve learned it feels good.
Dogs may mount and hump one another during play. Poorly socialized dogs are more likely to do this in response to play solicitation.
Mounting and humping can be a dog’s way of establishing dominance.
Some dogs can become aroused in stressful or overly exciting situations and respond by mounting another dog, person, or nearby object. If the dog is frequently stressed, the behavior can become compulsive and interfere with the dog’s life.
In some cases, mounting and humping can signal an underlying health issue, such as a urinary tract infection, skin allergies, or prostate problems. Generally, dogs will exhibit other symptoms, including excessive licking or chewing.
Although it’s a common and often normal dog behavior, mounting can become problematic. For example, not all dogs take kindly to being mounted and may respond aggressively, such as by growling or snapping. Sometimes, they might bite or attack the dog that mounted them. Pet parents may also not want their dogs to attempt mounting and humping every guest who enters their home.
There are a few ways pet parents can curb mounting behavior in their dogs:
If a pet parent notices other unusual signs in conjunction with frequent mounting and humping, such as excessive licking, they should rule out potential medical issues. Treating the health problem may be enough to stop the unwanted behavior.
Many dogs will show signs they’re about to mount another dog, person, or object. They might “flirt” by sidling up to whomever or whatever caught their attention and start to lick, paw, or whine. Pet parents can learn their dog’s pre-mounting behaviors and stop them before they start by distracting them and giving them a chew toy to play with instead.
Teaching the dog commands such as “sit,” “down,” or “leave it” and rewarding them with treats and praise when they listen can redirect the dog’s attention and alter their motivational state. Playtime with their favorite toy after they’ve calmed down may help, too.
Pet parents with dogs who might become aggressive when redirected may benefit from professional dog training.
Pet parents with anxious dogs that mount and hump when stressed should minimize triggering situations. If they can’t, they can take measures to reduce the dog’s stress as much as possible. For instance, a pet parent can distract their dog with a treat or ball when meeting new people. Exercise and play can help reduce a dog’s stress, too, as can establishing and sticking to a routine.
If the dog is persistent, pet parents may consider putting the dog in “time out.” They should stop engaging with the dog and calmly take them to another room or their crate. After leaving the dog alone for a few minutes, the pet parent can then let them out and act as though nothing happened.
Spaying or neutering intact dogs may not stop mounting and humping altogether, but it can help reduce a dog’s sexual motivation. These routine surgical procedures have other health benefits, too, including:
Dog pregnancy prevention
Reduced cancer risks in females (mammary, ovarian, uterine) and males (prostate)
Reduced desire to roam in search of potential mates (which also helps reduce the likelihood a dog gets lost or hurt)
Mounting behavior in dogs may be common, but that doesn’t mean that pet parents have to let it happen. Curbing the behavior can help prevent potential fights with other dogs as well as embarrassing situations with guests or strangers. Preventing mounting and humping can reduce stress and improve daily life for both the dog and the pet parent alike.