Stop A Dog From Humping – How Serious Is It?

Stop a dog from humpingI recently had a small gathering at my house and was horrified when my dog decided to show a particular infatuation for one of my house guests. Yes, he had fixated not on another dog, but an unsuspecting human guest, whom he became obsessed with humping. It may not always be necessary to stop a dog from humping, but in this case it most definitely was!

Dogs hump humans, dogs hump other dogs, dogs hump pillows, toys, blankets, children, air…..I’ve pretty much heard it all. It’s joked about in conversation, but when it is actually occurring, and it is your dog that’s in action, it can quickly become an embarrassing, and uncomfortable, situation!

Why Does My Dog Hump Everything?

  • Sexual Behavior: Although dog humping is not always sexual in nature, it certainly can be. It is also a very natural, and expected behavior, albeit not always a welcome one.
  • Overexcitement: Suppose your dog knows you are about to present him with a favorite toy, or he hasn’t been well socialized with other dogs and you take him to a dog park for the very first time. Situations like this can sometimes cause a dog to become overexcited and those emotions are displayed through humping. Oftentimes this is the cause of a dog humping a guest who comes to visit, or a child who is at play.
  • Stress: For the dog who tends to hump everything, from objects, to nothing but air……most likely it is an outlet for stress.
  • Social Status: Some dogs may hump other dogs to display dominance, in contrast, a more submissive dog may hump to find his place, or figure out his rank among other dogs. Either way, some dogs don’t like to be humped, and dog owners should beware as this is where the behavior can cause dogs to fight.
  • Compulsive Behavior: If your dog humps once or twice per day, this is normal behavior, and you can dismiss it as such. But if your dog displays the behavior to excess, and to the point you feel it effects his happiness and overall quality of life, then steps should be taken to curtail it.
  • Medical Issue: If your dog humps often, licks or bites at himself too much, or rubs against objects, it may be a sign of a medical issue. Possible medical conditions could be a urinary tract infection, urinary incontinence, priapism, or skin allergies.

How Can I Stop My Dog From Humping?

Remember, it is a natural behavior for a dog and is not always a bad thing. If your dog is only humping occasionally, and not a person, or harassing a particular animal, it’s okay, and you can choose to leave him be. But, if it becomes a bothersome behavior, or even compulsive, you will want to take a closer look and determine the cause in order to correct it.

The most ideal scenario is to stop this behavior in a dog as soon as it starts. However, if you are beyond that point, there are a few things you can do.

  • Neutering/spaying: Humping is a behavior shared by both male and female dogs, and can sometimes be minimized once a dog is neutered or spayed. However, it does not make the behavior completely go away.
  • Distract your dog: When the behavior begins, redirect your dog to a more appropriate behavior. Anything will do, give him a chew toy, throw a ball, have him perform a trick, give him some exercise, whatever activities you normally do with your dog.
  • Use a command: It is okay to tell your dog “No!”, and to pull him away. If your dog knows the word “leave it”, you can use that. You can also use “sit” or “down”, or any other command that ensures he cannot continue with what he was doing. In the case of my dog’s one-time humping behavior with our unsuspecting house guest, I chose to temporarily put a leash on my dog so that I could gently tug him away as I gave a command. This way I didn’t have to hover over my guest, and luckily, after a few redirects, my dog seemed to quickly lose interest.
  • Remove your dog from the situation: If your dog is relentlessly returning to his behavior even after your attempts to get him to stop, then try removing him from the situation completely. If you are indoors, move him to another room. Let him return after a few minutes and see if the behavior stops, repeating the process if needed. If you are in a setting with other dogs, such as a dog park, you may need to leave for the day as this is a behavior that can start fights with other dogs. In addition, I have seen other dog owners become highly upset when another dog mounts their dog, although most understand this is typical dog behavior that can happen in such settings.
  • Find the source of stress: If you suspect that stress may be the cause, attempt to pinpoint the source so you can reduce, or eliminate it from your dog’s life. Look for things such as conflicts between animals in your household, a new animal in the household, a family member harshly punishing your dog,  a drastic change in routine, a move to a new home, separation anxiety, etc.
  • Do not punish your dog: Getting angry, yelling, or harshly punishing your dog in any way will never work in your favor. These methods will only confuse your dog, put him under additional stress, and will not be effective in correcting the behavior.

For a dog who has developed compulsive humping behavior, or who gets aggressive when you try to stop him from mounting other people or dogs, I would suggest you obtain the help of a certified animal behaviorist, or dog trainer with expertise in this area.

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