If dogs could have their own TV show in the style of Jerry Springer or Jeremy Kyle, I’m sure it’d be tagged ‘Why do I feel the need to hump everything in sight? Dog humping, often embarrassing, occasionally humorous, but mostly an unwanted behaviour that many a dog owner would like to stop. Let’s see if we can offer a solution on why dogs hump and, more to the point, how to stop dogs humping.
1. Indiscriminate Dog Humping
This type of indiscriminate humping isn’t about mating. Even a dog who is frenzied by hormones knows the difference between a receptive partner and someone’s leg. It’s not even about pleasure, although that may play a role. Dogs mainly hump because they’re trying to assert themselves. The longer they get away with it, the more powerful they feel.
Humping usually starts during a dog’s adolescence – between 6 months old and 2 years old – depending on the breed. This is the time when reproductive hormones are starting to reach adult levels, and some dogs go a little bit crazy. And dogs are always trying to prove that they’re tougher than the next guy. Some do it by humping. Others do it by putting their feet on another dog’s back. They reach sexual maturity before they reach emotional maturity.
2. Is It Just Dogs Prone To Humping?
Humping is not strictly a male dog behaviour, although males are the worst offenders. Unlike females, whose hormones ebb and flow with their reproductive cycles, males maintain fairly steady hormone levels all the time. The hormones themselves don’t cause humping, but they make dogs more likely to do it.
There’s another reason that males are more likely than females to latch on to human legs, one that has nothing to do with reproductive urges. Males are just more competitive. They’re always trying to prove (to people as well as to other dogs) how big and tough and independent they are. Humping is just one way in which they push the boundaries and assert their dominance within a family.
3. Why Do Puppies Hump Each Other?
Watch a litter of puppies at play, and you’ll see that they spend quite a bit of time climbing on top of each other, mounting and sometimes, even the littlest of the little squirts, thrusting their Elvis-like hips in a mesmorising display belying their tender age. The more assertive dogs may take advantage of their position and throw in a little humping session now and then. It’s their way of saying that they are, quite literally, top dogs. They hump to show their dominance more than for any other reason. Even puppies understand rank.
Once dogs are out of the litter and living with people, the same instinct remains. Human legs don’t have special appeal, but they’re accessible and easy to wrap paws around. In the wild, dogs never mount dogs who are higher in rank than they are. The only time that a dog tries this with people is when there’s some confusion in his mind about who’s in charge and who isn’t.
4. How To Stop Dog Humping
Sexual mounting has been successfully treated in many cases by neutering the offender. However, when the behaviour is psychologically ingrained, this may be ineffective. If the dog (male or female) is neutered in an attempt at correction, environmental/behavioural alterations are also advisable. It should go without saying that the owners must not allow or encourage further sexual mounting.
Neutering a dog or spaying a female is a big decision. It, in and of itself, is not a cure for anything – other than the prevention of tiny little paws appearing sometime down the line. Don’t be too quick to rush your dog to the vet as a shortcut to curing a behavioural problem. You’ll be disappointed. Behavioural problems require behavioural intervention. That includes mounting/humping.