Some dogs just like to hump – when they are nervous or happy or when visitors pop by. And as a pet owner it can be pretty embarrassing when your precious pooch is going to town on her plush toys. Do you laugh it off, rush her to the vet, or intervene to stop this behaviour?
First of all, know that humping or mounting behaviours are quite normal in both female and male dogs, old and young. And even though it’s a sexual behaviour, even dogs that have been de-sexed enjoy a good hump. Your dog might also be doing it to show that she’s in control. If she tries to hump a visitor’s leg, for example she’s telling the visitor that she’s the boss. The cause can also be emotional. She might just be so happy that she needs to hump her bed. Or it could be a sign that she is stressed and she can’t manage her feelings. Unfortunately this type of humping can then become a habit that’s hard to break. The cause could also be medical. Humping can be a sign that your dog has a urinary tract infection or a skin allergy.
So, what do you do?
Ruling out a medical cause is important, so if she has been given a clean bill of health from the vet, you’ll need to look at other options. If your dog isn’t de-sexed, this might help reduce the humping, and of course there are other advantages to having a de-sexed pet. If the behaviour doesn’t seem excessive (she’s doing it no more than once or twice a day) and you’re not bothered by it, then you don’t need to do anything.
However, if you’re embarrassed or you think your dog is doing it to excess, you will need to intervene. If she is doing it to visitors, simply push her away and say “no”. Giving her some time out in a dull room like the laundry (for no more than a minute or two) will send her a message that the behaviour isn’t acceptable. If she is well trained, use your commands to take her mind off the humping. If she looks like she’s about to move in for a hump, ask her to sit.
If your dog seems to do it because she is stressed, try to distract her with a toy. Take her mind off it with some gentle play and soothing words. If she does it every time you take her to the dog park, it could be that she’s not socialising well. Take her out more often to help her learn important dog social skills.