My dog keeps humping other dogs

Time to talk about humping!

A dog’s humping behavior can be an awkward discussion topic.

However, “mounting” is a normal behavior for dogs just like rolling in poop, growling and peeing on things are all normal dog behaviors.

But should we allow our dogs to hump other dogs?

I’d love to hear what you think.

Let’s use the dog park scenario for this post because that’s where we often see dogs just being dogs, right? It’s like a free-for-all at times.

There are certain behaviors I try to limit from my dog at the dog park:

These are

  • Humping
  • Kicking up grass/dirt excessively
  • Excessive sniffing/licking of another dog’s rear end
  • Excessive barking
  • Excessive chasing/rough playing

All these behaviors are normal things dogs do. It’s not that a dog is “bad” if he (or she) does these behaviors.

It’s just that all these behaviors are related to energy, and too much energy in the wrong situation can lead to a fight, especially when the dogs are unfamiliar with one another.

For example, if my dog is allowed to obsessively bark at another dog (usually over a toy), pretty soon three or four other dogs will come over to investigate. Their tails and heads will be up. Sometimes there is tension. Their arousal levels are high.

Dogs are always responding to one another’s energy, and it’s our job to keep that energy at a certain level. Maintenance control.

So if my dog is beginning to bark excessively, I intervene before it reaches a certain point. We each have to make our own decisions on how much energy to tolerate, depending on the situation.

So what about humping?

When my dog gets humped

If I see a dog getting extra “friendly” with my dog at the park or beach, I try to intervene before that dog has a chance to throw his paws over my dog’s back. Sometimes this involves calling Ace to me. Sometimes I step between the two dogs or give a firm “hey!”

If I do not intervene, and my dog gets humped, I know he will eventually respond with a growl. If the other dog doesn’t get the message, Ace will turn around and let out a ferocious snarl. He means no harm. He’s basically saying, “Get the F— off me!”

It’s my job to intervene before it reaches that point.

Yes, dogs will usually work it out on their own just fine, but I would rather avoid those types of confrontations.

When my dog is the “humper”

My dog Ace is a mellow, laid-back guy with low to medium energy, so it’s extremely rare for him to hump another dog. (Update: Ace has passed away.) When he does, it’s always because that dog is insecure, nervous or scared. And the dog is usually very young. (Yeah, he goes for the under-aged dogs.)

I don’t know what my dog is thinking, but I can only assume he’s simply reacting to the other dog’s energy.

You may have noticed how all the dogs tend to crowd around a very nervous dog at the dog park. This often leads to a lot of vocalizations from the scared dog, especially if the dog is on a leash and can’t get away. Then of course, some of the other dogs begin barking and the energy continues to build from there.

I try to keep my dog out of these situations.

If I notice Ace is starting to get a little too “frisky,” I call him away.

Actually, if there is a lot of energy building for any reason, we calmly move away. I try to teach my dog that we don’t associate with that kind of energy at the park or the beach. We certainly won’t be the ones to start it.

But that’s just my opinion. Plus, a lot depends on the situation and how well the dogs know each other. What’s considered rude between two strange dogs may only be a playful gesture between good friends. Not all that different than humans, really.

What do you think? Do you allow your dog to hump other dogs?

25 thoughts on “My dog keeps humping other dogs”

  1. The list of behaviors related to excitement occur at my house sometimes. Bruce and Neeko both hump each other, and Faolan on occasion. Faolan is not a humper. Bruce does it out of play more than anything, whereas with Neeko it is because she is over excited. I always try to intervene when I see Neeko doing it, because if Faolan expresses displeasure at being humped she will bitch bark at him. Such a diva.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think it’s totally different when it’s between dogs that know each other vs. dogs that are strangers, and we each know what to tolerate from our own dogs. I love Neeko and her “attitude.” She has such a personality!

    2. I have a cat. who for the most part is mellow, but when given space she likes to roam, and sniff, and sometimes check out the dog. Recently I’ve been taking care of other dogs (total of 6). So, a cat fight ensued. She was actively going after the dog. I was able to stop it and grounded her by keeping her in the bedroom. Everything is as it was; but this is definitely a gray area that I would like to be more comfortable and acquire more knowledge. This was a great post, and it’s good to know that creating a distraction and using our commands with anticipation helps to keep our animal friends, well, safe and happy.

  2. We heard that humping is showing a sign of dominance. I am the alpha around here and I like to hump my sisters and friends to remind them I am in control. Mom isn’t real wild about it, but sometimes I just have to.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Haha. Yes. Ace is rarely the more dominant dog in any situation. That’s why when he spies a really, really insecure dog he tends to hump away! I guess those opportunities just don’t come around too often 🙂

    2. Dominance is defined as a relationship between two individuals over the control of resources using fear, intimidation, force and aggression. The dominance theory has been repudiated for the last 65 years.
      I have never seen a dog hump another dog or human for a resource.
      Humping is a sign of stress. Stress is defined as any demand placed upon a dog that changes its environment.
      The dog is usually over excited and cannot relieve that excitement fast enough so it must reduce stress in some way. It is non sexual nor is it used as a masterbatory function. It is simply trying to relieve built up tension.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Yes, it’s an interesting discussion, isn’t it?

        I did my best to keep “dominance” out of this post, because I know it’s a word that people are uncomfortable with. But naturally, it’s a word that will come up in discussing humping!

        I can’t recall a dog humping another dog or human for a resource either, but I’ve certainly seen dogs mounting other dogs as a dominance display, especially around unfamiliar dogs. And I think you’re right, it’s often a way to deal with all that energy. Great point.

        Dr. Patricia McConnell is one of my favorite dog behaviorists, and while she is pretty clear that she is a “positive reinforcement” trainer, she still points out that dogs use “dominance” to make a point.

        In researching this post, I found a good quote from her in her book The Other End of the Leash:

        “A paw over is the precursor to what’s called standing over in canine ethology, and it’s done in the context of establishing the social hierarchy.”

        Do you think she’s right about that? I think she is.

        1. Dogs live in what is called a subordinate hierarchy ( Bradshaw, J, Blackwell, E & Casey, R 2009, ‘Dominance in domestic dogs: useful construct or bad habit?’. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, vol 4., pp. 135 – 144) which means that they learn from all those older and hopefully wiser than them. This order is very similar to the way human families are structured. I would say that the term ” Status” is more appropriate than “Dominance”.Dr.L David Mechwww.youtube.com/watch?v=tNtFgdwTsbU I do not agree that the term Dominance be used when describing any type of behavior that is displayed by any animal. Dominance is a relationship that refers to man. It does not happen with any other creature. Dogs and their ancestors would be extinct if there was such a thing. They would be dripping with blood, drooling from exhaustion and starving from just trying to protect a bone, mate etc.

          1. I apologize for not answering your question. My cursor got the best of me . Yes, I agree with Dr. McConnell in her use of the term Social Hierarchy. See also Dr. Sophia Yin as well.

  3. You know its funny. Belle ( our girl) is the one to try and hump in the house. A “No” works wonders. At the dog park its D.O.G.!!!!! He’s the humper!!!! And its an extra excitement part of everything I am sure. I didn’t realize that it was also a way to go after insecure dogs. Which is interesting because one of his favorite victems is the intact dog in our neighborhood. Who doesn’t mind that my neutered male is on top of him…. So yeah… Still the cue for “No” and I keep moving. Harder to do in a fenced in dog park (its smaller) but easier to do in our larger dog parks. Not that I go often. And maybe that’s an issue. Its someplace really exciting and so they get more amped.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh gosh. Your stories are so funny to me because it’s not my dog! Haha! It’s always funny when it’s someone else’s dog doing the humping.

  4. It took some work when we first get a dog, but once they understand we don’t have hump trouble…which wouldn’t work very well with cows. I love your post and I enjoyed all the comments also!

    ✿♥ღ Linda

  5. HA my dad’s female lab humps her pillow…we no longer call it humping…we call it TWERKING 😉 My girl however who is a big chicken and afraid of everything but loves to play with any dog will NOT allow herself to be humped, we all laugh at the dog park as she runs from the humper and I always yell at her RUUUUUN….SAVE YOURSELF! LOL
    Dogs make life more fun!

  6. Tessi is a humper, though she rarely does it now. When she does, I’m startled because I forget she has that tendency. When I first had her, she did it a lot. I didn’t know much about dogs and remember thinking the first time I saw her do it that I was sure I got a female – I thought only males behaved in such a way. lol. My vet said that they are showing dominance, so I’ve always discouraged it. I’ve learned so much more about our dogs over our years together and that they are capable of almost anything. You should have seen the look on my face when I saw the two neighbour male dogs “going at it.”

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh I remember the good old days when I didn’t know female dogs would mark. I soon learned otherwise.

  7. These “antisocial” behaviors (which for dogs are perfectly social, should be discouraged because of their owners, not for the sake of the dogs. I have noticed that in the dogosphere, that there is a surplus of dog-experts out there, who actually are discussing four-legged furry human children, and not the canis lupus familiaris who eat poo, lick pee, and blight gorgeous landscapes, humping each other till the cows come home. What I am saying, is that yeah, reasonable people know full well, that this is just dogs being dogs. But not everybody is reasonable. Some people might think that Rover’s humping of Fido is an act of aggression, and the owner of the other dog might get aggressive with YOU.

    All the while screaming at you, at the top of his or her lungs, that YOUR DOG is aggressive.

    Nice.

    Seriously though, in many situations, human responses to a perceived slight can turn into combat. Dog confrontations, well … meh. I don’t let my dogs “express themselves” freely because I don’t want to deal with the owner attached to the other dogs.

  8. I have a 13 lb terrier mix. She was a rescue, we got her at 2 years old, a stray . She may be part jack russell. She loves to go to the dog park, and fortunately they segregate large and small dogs. She sniffs other little dogs at both ends, and is definitely alpha female with the group, quite often the same dogs. She can stir up rough behavior. The other day it looked like pooch football. Other owners Don’t mind, but it worries me. We only do fetch at home, no tug or fighting. She will come when called, but not when she’s into it with “the gang”. She’s like a two year old who won’t leave the sandbox.
    Also,sometimes she barks at the big dogs. This could have come fro her days a s a stray in the city. She knows commands, tricks, and is mostly loveable at home. Any suggestions?,
    Ps. She is fixed, but does not act it out with other dogs. Do see her rubbing the area and obviously….. She was fixed late, probably after sexual maturity.

  9. Chrissy Rodieck

    Thank you! I really needed this post today. My dog Cocoa can be so good and quiet that people do not know she is there. This leads to problems because when she makes herself known she is present. I call her my back alley dog because that is where most people probably don’t want to meet her. Children do not always know she is around and accidentally sneak up on her. Than she is there. Like Remy, Cocoa has passed the AKC CGC, and visits dog freindly stores.
    But she is also the dog that is a fifty pound terrier mix.

  10. Hey i know this is an older article but. My dog Kylo has picked up the habit of humping. He’s a 10 month old shepherd and he’s not neutered. I’m not on board with the idea of getting him neutered due to him being a large breed. But everytime I take him to the dog park he wants to fixate on one dog… and hump. I have no clue how to get him to stop. When he is within reach I tell him “NO” and move him. When he’s not in reach I have to go get him off the other dog. The Other dogs give him a warning and they nip and growl at him but, Kylo dosent seem to understand and is very persistent in humping the dog he’s fixated on. It’s very frustrating and embarrassing sometimes. I’m thinking I might have to hire another trainer. The 1st one didn’t even help address the issue. I need help. Any advice would be very appreciated.

    1. It would be easiest to distract him before he starts humping, when possible. Just tell him “no” or get him focused on something else. Easier said than done, I know. You may need to avoid the dog park if it’s a problem.

      How is his obedience in general? Will he come when called while off leash? Sit and stay? If you can work on getting a good voice control on some of the basics, you’ll have a better time getting him to listen to you in a dog park situation. Obviously if he doesn’t come when called when he’s not distracted, he’s not going to come when called while he’s distracted.

      Maybe if you have some tolerant friends’ dogs who he gets along with, you could plan on a “play date” and use treats to distract him from humping. Use a firm “no” if he does do it but try to catch him before he starts, like when he starts fixating and staring at the dog. Use treats to reward him for paying attention to you or sitting on command or something simple. If needed, you could use a squirt bottle of water to correct him from humping or a product called the Pet Corrector that blasts compressed air.

      Once he seems to be doing better around familiar dogs, maybe try taking him to the dog park during quieter times and after he’s had a long walk or played fetch or had other exercise. The calmer he is, the less likely he will be to hump other dogs and more likely to listen to you.

      1. Thanks Lindsay for the advice I will definitely use it. he’s a very smart boi and he knows a lot of commands. We do need to work on the Recall I will admit. I was thinking he just might be too overwhelmed at the park. Maybe it’s just not the place for him. He does great on one one play sessions I hardly ever have to correct him.

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