Dog Humping – And How To Stop It

Humping
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As they’re developing sexually, it’s common for dogs to hump other animals and even people. But what if your dog is past his hormonally-fueled “teenage years” and still humping away? We’ll look at a few other possible causes for dog humping below, and then explain how you can stop it in the future.  

Why is My Dog Humping?

Most people immediately associate dog humping with sexual urges. While this is often true, there are actually plenty of other common reasons why dogs hump. If you only associate dog humping with sexuality, you could be missing other important messages your dog is trying to send you. Let’s look at the most obvious reason why dogs hump first though. 

1. Sexual And Hormonal Urges

Humping is usually a sign of sexual and hormonal behavior in younger dogs. Most puppies approach sexual maturity between 5-8 months old, and often start humping around this time. It’s natural and instinctive for dogs to mount and hump around this age, as their reproductive hormones are raging. When a female dog goes into heat, other dogs can smell it and become triggered to hump, even if neutered. 

After a dog finds out that humping feels good, the humping may not be limited to other dogs either. Pillows, bedding, and even people can all become “targets” for humping as dogs develop sexually. 

2. Stress

Humping isn’t always about sex. Another common reason dogs hump is because of stress. Certain environments can make dogs uncomfortable. Activities like meeting new people or dogs can also cause anxiety, and some dogs may hump to relieve this stress. 

However, “good stress” can also cause humping. Some dogs hump because they are excited to see their owner or other dogs after being alone for a long time. 

3. Play And Excitement

Humping is also a normal part of play between other dogs. Dogs sometimes initiate play by humping, or incorporate humping into their wrestling play. Obviously, this can be embarrassing for owners, but if it only occurs for very short periods of time it’s likely just part of play between excited dogs (male or female).  

Just remember that some dogs don’t take kindly to being humped, so make sure to observe the reaction of the dogs to make sure no one becomes uncomfortable or aggressive. 

RELATED: How to train your dog through play …  

4. Dominance

Humping is rarely a sign of dominance between dogs … and not in the way you might think.  For example, sometimes a younger, shyer dog will do the humping, and the older, more confident dog will let him. The theory of dominance in dogs (and even in wolves) has been debunked and is greatly misunderstood.

RELATED: Read what wolf expert David Mech says about dominance …

5. Medical Issues

In rare cases, humping can also be a symptom of medical problems like skin irritations or urinary tract infections. Keep an eye out for other common symptoms of these issues, like licking the genital area or rubbing against furniture or other objects. And note that in male dogs, humping can also be a sign of prostate problems.

RELATED: How to improve your dog’s behavior with diet …

How to Stop Dog Humping

If your dog is humping because of sexual or hormonal urges, usually the issue will resolve itself as your dog gets older and his hormones calm down. But if the humping doesn’t subside on its own, or is being caused by one of the other issues above, here are a few other strategies you can try to stop dog humping. 

Manage Any Stressors Or Other Issues

Does a particular activity trigger your dog to start humping? This might be having guests over, meeting other dogs, etc. If you can identify what’s causing the humping in the first place, then you can work to resolve it. You can also limit the triggering activities until the humping is under control.

Reducing stress and excitement will likely stop the humping over time. For example, if your dog is stressed when first meeting other dogs, you can keep him in a separate area at first until he calms down. 

RELATED: How to calm dog anxiety naturally …

Get Your Dog’s Attention

Over time, you may be able to train your dog to stop humping simply by calling his name and redirecting him. If you catch him in the act or he’s about to mount, call his name and get his attention. You can use a cue like “off” … or try redirecting his attention to some other activity. This could be as simple as calling him to come to you. At that point you can allow him to go back to playing or socializing, or bring him elsewhere if he needs a break.

RELATED: Brain food for dogs …

Use Positive Training

Even though you don’t want your dog humping your guests or other dogs, you shouldn’t punish him for humping (or other unwanted behaviors). It’s a natural behavior and could even be a sign of stress, anxiety, or a medical problem. Instead, try to use positive training. You offer a reward if your dog stops humping when you say a cue like  “off,” or “leave it.” You may also be able to use a toy or treat to lure your dog away or distract him from humping in the future. Clicker training is a useful training method to learn.

RELATED: Read more about clicker training dogs …

Turn To A Pro

The vast majority of the time, the humping will either resolve itself over time or can be stopped using the techniques above. However, if you’ve given it plenty of time, tried all the techniques above, and are sure it’s not being caused by a medical issue, you may want to consider asking a dog trainer or behavior specialist for help. 

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