Dog HumpingI must have been 7 or 8 years old when my aunt Céline’s dog constantly humped my leg when we were visiting for the holidays. I didn’t quite understand why the whole family laughed at the scene, but I remember being uncomfortable with this behavior. My aunt tried somehow to remove her little Bichon from my leg, but they always came back. Yet I loved this little dog and gave him a lot of attention, but I hated when he did that, and my first instinct was to punish him. I quickly forgot about this episode until I adopted my dog Gustave, who weighs 70lbs and was doing the same thing! I wondered then, what is this behaviour really about? Is it just sexual, or is there another reason behind it?

Reasons for Dog Humping

1. Stress or Over-excitement

Most dogs who hump do not do so out of sexual desire but somewhat out of stress or over-excitement. Whether it’s a male or a female, it’s a relatively common behaviour. My dog Kona, when she was four months old regularly, did it on the cushions, our legs or the blankets, and it was often at a time of day when she was tired. The excitement was too high, she could no longer make good decisions, and the behaviour appeared. That’s probably why my aunt’s dog humped me during those Christmas parties! It’s a lot of excitement for a dog to have so many visitors at home!

If this happens to you, it is, therefore, relevant to note the circumstances in which the behaviour occurs. If you believe it is caused by stress or an excess of energy, try to prevent it by providing enough sleep, enough chewing and regular mental stimulation to your dog throughout the day. On the other hand, if you see that your dog is going to do it or if it is too late and it is humping objects around them, it’s better to laugh it off than to punish for it. Try redirecting it to a more appropriate activity, such as chewing their bone.

2. Need to Play

Dog HumpingAnother reason that leads a dog to hump is play! Even if you’re ashamed of your dog in front of all the other dog parents, you should know that humping is normal behaviour and many dogs like to play that way. However, you must be careful because many other dogs, especially older or calmer dogs, do not tolerate being jumped on like this. It is, therefore, important to monitor if there’s an exchange of roles in the game and the signals of discomfort from the dog below. If you think one of the dogs is uncomfortable, now is the time to step in and temporarily remove your dog from the situation. If they continue, it’s best to end the game ultimately to avoid an escalation.

Same thing if it’s your leg that is used to amuse your dog. Redirect it to another activity, such as tug of war or throwing the ball, or end the play session, making sure not to reinforce the behavior.

3. It’s Sexual

Although this is not the main reason, the humping can also be sexual, especially if one of the two dogs is in heat! It is essential never to let two unsterilized dogs play together if the female is in heat. An accidental litter of puppies can happen very quickly! Some dogs, even sterilized, have sexual urges and discharge these urges on the furniture. You can let him do it or dedicate a cushion or a soft toy to these antics, it’s still better than if your dog does it on your leg.

How to Deal with It

Dog HumpingFinally, write down the circumstances under which the behaviour occurs and try to determine the reason behind it. More often than not, your dog has too much energy, excitement, or stress and just needs your help to guide them into more acceptable behaviour. In any case, don’t worry too much about it, it’s normal and natural, and you just have to learn to laugh about it!

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