Why Do Dogs Hump Things?

Aug 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm |

Dog Training: Why Do Dogs Hump?

Story Courtesy: The Dodo, Sarah V Schweig

We are all creatures of nature, and sex is a natural part of the world. But why do dogs who have been fixed sometimes still go around humping stuff?

A favorite toy. A carefully embroidered decorative pillow. The purse of a guest at a dinner party. The leg of a guest at a dinner party. The dog of a stranger at the dog park. Nothing is safe.

(Flickr/Chris Pirillo)

(Flickr/Chris Pirillo)

But why?

Male and female dogs are not immune to giving into the urge, now and then, especially when they’re puppies. Until they reach sexual maturity — at 1 or 2 years old — humping is part of normal puppy play. After they’re spayed or neutered, dogs can still feel pleasure, and so they may engage in the act occasionally … dinner guests be damned. If you notice your dog is mounting and humping things quite a lot, the reason could be that your pup is stressed out and seeking pleasure to distract himself from an anxiety-inducing situation.

puppy cuddling giraffe


It’s best to avoid situations that cause your dog stress, but if these situations are unavoidable, it’s important to have a contingency plan. “If you have a pet who pays inappropriate attention to objects or people, it’s very important to have a plan to try to extinguish the behavior,” K.C. Theisen, director of pet care issues for The Humane Society of the United States, told The Dodo.

guilty dog


You can help curb your dog’s pleasure-seeking through positive reinforcement training and by distracting him with other kinds of happy experiences. If you see him — or her — sidle up to an object/dog/person/what-have-you and begin to pant and whine in a suspicious way, the ASPCA suggests tossing him — or her — a favorite toy or asking your dog to perform a trick he or she knows and likes doing.

If that doesn’t work, you may have to be more firm if your dog is insistent on mounting other dogs (which can be dangerous if a fight breaks out). Longer term preventative training can help your dog largely kick the habit. In other words, find your dog another hobby he likes to do instead … and which he can’t do while, you know, multitasking. And remember to reward your dog when he’s curbed the urge.

dog playing frisbee


“A veterinarian or behaviorist can help you figure out some strategies that could work,” Thiesen said, “because it’s very hard to persuade a pet to give up a behavior that feels good and also grabs the attention of everyone in the room!”

Too many dogs are given away because they behave in a way their families think they can’t fix. Don’t give up on your overly amorous pup.

For tips on choosing a dog trainer, click here.

If you’re ready to add a loving and furry family member to your home, check outAdopt-a-Pet.com.

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Grandma’s pillow never saw it coming.