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Many of us have been in the awkward situation when our dogs begin humping another dog, their toys or even a human; it's a common cause for embarrassment but are we simply misunderstanding this doggy behaviour?

dog, humping, brentknoll, vets, worcester, humpIs my dogs humping a sexual thing?

We often assume that when dogs hump it is sexually driven, this is sometimes the case, but depending on your dogs age and gender it can also be a reaction to excitement or a response to being touched in certain areas of the body that cause arousal.

We know that dogs are creatures of habit and can that they often learn to associate certain behaviours to situations, humping can become an ingrained response every time a particular situation occurs. For example, your dog my get excited when the postman comes and in response will bark, for others their response to this excitement may be to hump their bedding or toys.

My dog keeps humping my visitors

Whilst this can be very annoying and embarrassing, it it's actually a perfectly normal dog response to something new and exciting. Meeting someone new is usually fun for most dogs and so behaviourists suggest humping when guests come round, is a form of displacement behaviour, where they transfer their feelings about the situation on to something else.

How you respond to the situation and how your visitors act can either help or hinder the situation. If you respond with excitement and the dog receives attention for the action, this may encourage them to continue or cause them to repeat it in the future.

Why does my neutered dog still hump?

humping, dogs, brentknoll vetsIt is natural for un-neutered male dogs to mate with females in season and so they will always try to do so. This message and natural instinct doesn't necessarily disappear once they have been neutered so it is very common for neutered males to continue humping behaviour when they pick up the scent of an opportunity for mating.

Neutering will decrease the amount of testosterone that male dogs produce, having less of this sex hormone will in many cases reduce the desire to mate, and subsequently this lessens or stops the humping behaviour. There will always be some testosterone remaining, so for some dogs the urge to mate will remain and they may continue mounting objects, animals or people.

Previously we mentioned how behaviours like humping can become learnt and become a habit. Humping often starts right back when they're puppies; often puppies will assert themselves over their brothers and sisters by mounting weaker littermates as a sign of dominance and superior physical ability, this can then continue into adulthood.

I have a female dog that humps, is this normal?

Whilst this seems like an odd behaviour for females, it's actually normal and very common. Females tend to hump more as puppies (although less than their male counterparts) because it is actually enjoyable for them, this pleasurable activity is an innate part of puppyhood in the same way that playing and socialising is.

Canine behaviourists have seen that for some dogs, both male and female, humping can be a reaction to stress or anxiety in the same way that other dogs react to excitement with humping.

Should you stop a dog from humping?

humping, problems, dog, behaviour, brentknoll, vetsWe've already discussed humping being a perfectly natural canine behaviour, but whether to stop it or let it continue is a common question. If your puppy is humping his bed or toys, he isn't annoying anyone and is exhibiting perfectly normal puppy behaviour so it will do no harm to allow him to carry on. Now if this puppy grows into a large adult dog and continues to hump people and other dogs, this could become problematic. Neutering can help in many cases and it's important to keep an eye on whether your dogs humping is a negative or positive reaction to particular situations; behavioural work with a trainer may be necessary if your dog develops an un-healthy or problematic habit.

Humping is considered problematic when it becomes excessive or inappropriate, if this is the case it's important to use positive reinforcement to get your dog to divert his/her attention onto something else when the obsessive behaviour starts.

It's a good idea to speak to the vet too, it could be a sign of a health problem like a urinary tract infection or itchy skin. This will be more likely if the humping has come on suddenly or seems unusually excessive, other signs may be increased time spent cleaning/licking their genitals.

The truth about your dogs humping... happy hump day!

 

 

 

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