Why Do Dogs Hump?

by Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger on November 16, 2009

You may have seen dogs who hump toys or cushions or who try to hump other dogs. You may have even had dogs that humped your leg — which is not really very amusing if you are the person who is being humped. All of this humping may have left you wondering what it’s all about.

Different dogs can hump things for different reasons. All humping is a movement mimicking the sexual act. However, that does not mean that every time a puppy or dog humps something they want to have sex.

For instance, if you watch very young puppies playing, they will often hump each other. Both boys and girls display this behavior. They are just playing and practicing for later in life. They are developing sexual roles as well as using humping to display dominance. This is all done in play and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s quite normal at this age.

For some puppies the behavior can become a habit. They can continue to try to dominant other puppies or dogs with humping behavior. It doesn’t have to be sexual in nature. They may try to hump dogs of the same sex. In a reverse situation, humping can be a way for a dog to try to show another dog that they want to be part of their group. “Hey, I’m one of you!” They may try to hump larger or older dogs. This almost appears to be a form of hero-worship.

Dogs can also hump people or things if they have a physical problem, such as itches or irritations in the genital area. They are essentially trying to rub the area on something to make it feel better. This can also become a habit.

Of course, when a bitch is in season there may be humping behavior long before there is any actual mating. Males may try to hump the female. The female may try to hump the male to arouse his interest, and so on. This is essentially courting behavior. Sometimes humans are inadvertently brought into the mix and a male or female (more often a male) may hump someone’s leg if they happen to be around.

Neutering or spaying a dog does not necessarily stop humping behavior. Since humping can be a learned behavior — a habit — it is usually a mental action, not a physical need. There are many spayed and neutered dogs who continue humping unless they are trained to stop the behavior.

The best way to train your dog not to hump is to teach him to do some other desired behavior when he starts to hump. Teach him to do a trick instead. Or teach him to simply obey basic commands such as Sit, Lie Down or something else.

Certainly not all dogs hump. This is a very individual behavior. Stopping your dog early when he starts humping your leg or other unacceptable things will usually stop the behavior. It is mostly seen in immature dogs. Most adult dogs do grow out of it unless the behavior is allowed to become an ingrained habit.

Do you have problems with a humping dog? Were you able to solve the problem? Tell us about your successes.

Until next time…..

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sara 11.16.09 at 11:51 am

my 4 year old keeshond does that to any dog he doesn’t respect. Some dogs that he sees as a more dominate dog he leaves them be and behaves around them. But as soon as he sees a non-dominate dog in his mind, he humps them like crazy, I pull him off of them and put him into a down stay and he stares at them and whines and keeps breaking the down stay because he cant stand it. He does this to male or female. DRIVES ME CRAZY! No other dogs like him because of this habit of his.

2 Richard 05.10.10 at 3:12 am

Hi ,my King Charles has been spade for 3 years now.
Last week while walking in the park he (sammson) was beside himself over a young girl 7 ,8 years old,wanting to hump her leg obsessivly.
I have never seen this behavior from him,It was as if he was possesed.
Youre thoughts please
Regards Richard

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