The behavioral issues of mounting and humping can be awkward and uncomfortable for pooch parents – especially if their pup happens to be a female.
For our dogs, however, this behavior is a perfectly normal form of self expression – and it isn’t limited to intact males. Both male and female dogs mount and hump for several reasons.
As you might expect, humping is often a sexually motivated behavior, even in female dogs. Sexually motivated humping tends to occur during a female’s heat cycle and may be accompanied by other forms of “flirtatious” body language like a raised tail, pawing, and play bows.
Because the behavior can appear quite similar, owners often mistake simple play for sexual advances. The best way to put an end to sexual humping and eliminate confusion is to have your dogs – male and female – neutered and spayed.
Vigorous play sessions may also lead to displays of dominance. Both male and female dogs may seek to establish themselves as “top dog” by mounting or humping. Raising themselves physically higher than another pup through mounting is a sure-fire way to assert themselves.
Some scientists believe dominant humping in female dogs may be a result of prenatal masculinization. This phenomenon is thought to occur in female dogs that were outnumbered by male puppies in the womb causing a hormonal transfer during prenatal development.
Social dominance should not be confused with stress-related humping or compulsive behavior disorders. For some dogs, humping is their go-to response to stressful or exciting situations like meeting a new dog or human. If the humping leads to aggression in your anxious dog, seek help from a veterinarian or behaviorist.
In some cases, humping in female dogs is an attention-seeking behavior. To a pooch that feels deprived of adequate exercise or affection, negative attention is better than no attention at all. Dogs may recall being scolded for mounting or humping in the past and repeat the behavior in order to force you to engage with them.
Finally, in rare cases, humping can be associated with a medical issue. The ASPCA lists urinary tract infections, incontinence, priapism, and skin allergies as potential triggers.
In addition to spaying your female dog, you can try distracting her with a toy or treat when she displays warning signs of humping such as panting, whining, or pawing the person, dog, or object. Teaching her a command like “Leave it!” can also help redirect her focus.
For dogs that hump as a means of obtaining attention, ignoring the behavior may work when she realizes you are not going to give her the reaction she wants. Just be sure to provide plenty of exercise and affection at other times to eliminate the need for attention-seeking behavior.
If all else fails, or you are concerned about your dog’s health, safety or emotional wellbeing, consult a qualified professional.
H/T to PetMD
Featured Image via Flickr/Liz West