Why Do Dogs Hump?
While this topic may cause a laugh or a snicker, it can be a real problem for owners, causing embarrassment and affecting your dog's social life.
Karen Asp, edited by Samantha Meyers |
Posted: June 14, 2014, 10 a.m. PST
One thing that makes dogs wonderful is their lack of shame and inhibitions, such free spirits they are. These are traits you likely admire and may even celebrate in your dog; that is, until these traits lead him to look amorously at the leg of a dinner party guest, go to town on your child's favorite toy, or start a love affair with a couch pillow.
But while this topic may cause a laugh or a snicker, it can be a real problem for owners, causing embarrassment and affecting your dog's social life.
Why Dogs Do It:
Humping means different things to different dogs, and although it’s often done with other dogs, they can hump any kind of object (or person) at all. While it’s often a normal part of play behavior, especially for puppies, it can also be intended for sexual purposes or even dominance.
Most people don’t realize that this behavior isn’t limited to intact male dogs, says the ASPCA. Because humping is not always stem from sexual desire, female dogs and neutered/spayed dogs may still hump.
"My experience is that dogs are more likely to do this when they’re alpha want-to-be’s,” says Larry Kay, a Los Angeles-based dog trainer and the author of the upcoming book Life’s a Bark (Sourcebooks, $11.13). "Yet like people, dogs secure in their own leadership don’t need to exhibit anti-social behaviors.”
Although not as likely, some dogs can hump out of excitement or frustration. "Some dogs learn that humping helps alleviate some of that arousal buildup,” says Pam Reid, Ph.D.
Photo from themetapicture.com
How Do I Stop My Dog From Humping?
If your dog starts humping for no apparent reason, take him to your veterinarian, as any dramatic behavioral change warrants a vet checkup, Reid says. Your vet may then recommend consulting a veterinary behaviorist — you can find a list of behaviorists at www.dacvb.org.
If you have an intact dog, consider neutering/spaying, says the ASPCA. Although neutering doesn’t always stop a dog from mounting, it does reduce his sexual motivation.
Photo from MemeCenter.com
Unless you’re dealing with puppies at play, curtail this behavior as quickly as you can, Kay says. "The danger of letting this continue is that the dog being humped may not tolerate it and could easily start a fight,” he notes. It can also upset the owners of other dogs he is humping. It's really no way to make friends, you should at least take them to dinner first.
Rather than correcting your pup for humping, though, which could draw attention to the behavior and lead your pup to do it more, redirect his attention with an Off command. As soon as he obeys, give him a reward — "As your dog becomes more fluent in understanding ‘Off,’ you can phase out the treat,” Kay adds — and then another command like Sit or Down. The same guidelines apply if your dog is humping something other than another dog.
Why Do Dogs:
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