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The Science of Humping: It’s not always dominance.

It’s not unusual for a dog develop a habit of humping or mounting. And not only humping other dogs, but things like toys, pillows, blankets, and people. Every dog owner knows the embarrassment of having the dog doing the humping. It can be awkward, especially if your dog likes to hump people. What are the reasons? Rather than jumping on the ‘dominance’ bandwagon right away, take a look at all of the more likely reasons a dog displays this awkward behavior. Humping is an action that seems inherently sexual in nature. However, this isn’t always the case. Humping can be part instinct, part learned behavior. The truth is, humping is a completely normal behavior, even when females do it. This only becomes a problem when it bothers other dogs by invading their personal space. Here are all the possible reasons a dog may display this awkward behavior.

HORMONAL DRIVE: An intact male may hump due to hormones but usually the reasons for humping are non-sexual. Females hump as well, and its likely not sexual in nature. When a dog humps objects or people, it can be from hormonal excitement. Having your dog neutered or spayed can help decrease the problem over time but dogs can develop the habit before their spay/neuter and may continue it after. 

EXCITEMENT: Non-hormonal arousal can easily provoke a dog to hump as a way for the dog to expel excited energy. Some dogs bark, some run or jump, others hump. If the behavior is frequent, training may be able to help reduce it by redirecting your dog to another outlet for expending excess energy.

PLAY: Like play fighting, humping can be a completely normal and acceptable behavior as long as it doesn’t upset the other dog. Eventually it WILL upset another dog so make sure to break it up as soon as you see it. Try to re-direct that energy into a safer behavior. Humping can usually be managed through training using a word like “off” or “leave it!” The word “no” is not ideal since we use it so much in conversation. The word “down” is confusing when it comes time to teach him to lie down.

At Dog Tired, our staff has been trained to redirect humping behaviors, as they are considered “Rude” Play styles. All dogs must be spayed or neutered by 1 year old, to be admitted into our group play program.

by Jason Aft

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