Why Do Dogs Hump?

Humping and What It Means

For many of us when we see our dogs humping we get quite embarrassed as we automatically put a sexual connotation on this behaviour.  Although humping is related to reproduction, in most cases, our dogs are not mounting for that reason.  Some people say it’s a display of dominance as well.  From my experience humping is rarely about dominance or reproduction, it is normal dog behaviour that helps convey their emotional state. 

Dogs often mount when they’re excited, aroused and even when they’re stressed and anxious. I know my dog mounts other dogs when he is excited and also when stressed.  He will hump during play with another dog especially if the excitement level intensifies or if he wants the attention.  Humping during play (if both dogs don’t mind the behaviour) also strengthens social bonds.  There are also times when my dog meets and greets a new dog, that he humps when feeling anxious or stressed.  Your dog may hump other dogs and also other objects or even your leg.  In most cases it is usually excitement (someone has come home, a visitor has knocked on the door, playing with another dog, getting the lead put on to go for a walk etc) and mounting is a natural way to release this energy, just like barking or jumping.  Boredom can also result in mounting, as your dog releases this built up energy on a toy or some other object.  You may also witness your dog mounting prior to sleeping – his favourite pillow can often be the source of a downtime activity.  

According to Psychology Today, mounting could also be what ethologists call a displacement behaviour, meaning that it’s a byproduct of conflicted emotions. For some dogs a new visitor to the house could elicit a mixture of excitement and stress that could make for a humping dog. 

If your dog is humping and it is causing issues then you may need to curb this behaviour.  Give us a call and we can help.  Otherwise, if this ‘normal dog behaviour’ is being used appropriately by your dog then let him continue to express himself and interact with other dogs who don’t get annoyed with it.

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