Humping is quite common in dogs but for their owners it can be very embarrassing and upsetting. Some dogs hump other dogs, some may like to hump a stuffed toy, their dog bed or the sofa. Most frequently a dog might hump a persons leg!
Humping is not always sexual and is usually quiet harmless and there are various ways it can be discouraged. Humping and mouthing is part instinct and a part learnt behaviour. Humping is completely normal in dogs but can become a behaviour problem when humping becomes excessive.
In this blog post I will address some of the reasons why your dog might being displaying this behaviour as well as ways to manage and stop this behaviour.
If your dog is over 6 months old, intact and is around other female dogs who are in season or coming into season then humping would be sexual. Sometimes an intact dog will hump a spayed or nurtured dog. Female dogs hump too, which may or may not be sexual.
Nonsexual arousal, stress or frustration can provoke a dog to hump. If a dog is feeling stressed, humping and mouthing is a way to relive stress. Some dogs might bark, jump or scratch others hump when they are feeling overwhelmed, nervous or stressed.
Puppies may hump and mouth die being either over tired or over stimulated. Be mindful of when your puppy last had a nap. Puppies under 6 months old should be sleeping 18 hours a day.
Taking your dog out of the stressful environment will be one way to stop the humping. Give your dog an outlet like a stuff Kong, chew or a training session to help them cope in the environment if you can't remove them from the stressful place.
If your dog gets easily over excited in a play session or training session then humping can occur due to frustration over the training getting too hard or the play session is getting too rough or difficult.
If your dog starts to hump then end the session and give your dog something calming to do like a stuff Kong, chew or some scent work. Sniffing lowers your dog's pulse rate and makes them more relaxed.
Like play fighting, humping can be a completely normal behaviour between two dogs as long as the other dog is not getting frustrated by the behaviour. Some dogs play hump each other back and forth. Some dogs just simply enjoy humping!
Make sure you break up the play is one dog seems annoyed by the humping. Call the dog back to you frequently to stop the intensity of the humping.
If your dog regally humps their bed or a stuff toy then this could be due to boredom or excess energy. It could also become a learnt behaviour or an attention seeking behaviour
Providing your dog with exercise, play and mental stimulation should help to prevent the humping from happening.
Humping is not usually related to any medical problems, there are a few possibilities:
Urinary tract infection
Priapism ( persistant erection )
Constant licking of genital area
Take your dog to the vet if your dog is displaying any or the above medical problems.
How to stop the humping
Since there are a few reasons to why a dog humps it would be a good idea to take note of what is happening in the environment just before the humping started and during the humping. This way you can establish wether the humping is stress related, playful etc
Make humping no fun and not a big deal: By controlling our own behaviour and not reacting when we see our dog doing the behaviour, you won't accidentally reinforce the behaviour by fracking out.
Interrupt the behaviour: Call your dog over to you and get them engaged in something else. Wether its a game or tug, find it, scatter feeding in the garden or settling down with a chew or Kong.
Humping is a natural behaviour. Learn your dog's humping behaviour patterns so that you can know when to predict the humping will happen and how to stop the humping from escalating especially is humping may cause a dogfight or injury to someone.