BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

How to Stop Your Dog from Humping: No More Embarrassing Episodes in Front of Your Guest

Image showing a dog and his owner on a walk
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Dogs are cute, and it is fun watching them play and do all sorts of things. However, it’s a known fact that they also have some behaviors that tend to annoy us, if not outright embarrass us—one of them being the way they tend to hump things. As a dog owner, knowing how to stop your dog from humping is crucial.

This knowledge can save you from potentially catastrophic occurrences, especially when there’s a guest around. If you can manage to get your dog to stop humping, you will be able to present them as the well-mannered pet that they are. Once you’ve gotten over this one last hurdle, you will be able to be proud of your prized companion the way you’re supposed to.

Dog humping a woman's arm

Why do dogs hump? Is there a way for us to stop this annoying and often embarrassing canine behavior? In this article, we will try to understand the reasons why dogs hump, and we will talk about ways to address it, either to stop it or to help our dogs deal with it in an acceptable manner.

Why Do Dogs Hump?

Humping, also called mounting, is the result of some dogs’ natural instinct at work. Dogs that hump not only tend to do it to other dogs, but may also do it to inanimate objects like stuffed toys, or even people. Dogs can even hump air if they feel the need to. There are various reasons as to why dogs hump. Some might think it’s purely sexual in nature—simply because that’s what dogs do when they engage in the natural process of doggy procreation. But it’s not.

They are in a Playful Mood

Although it is true that this behavior is more common in unneutered and unspayed dogs about one-year-old and younger, humping is also a natural dog play behavior.

Labrador and Trainer with Dog Chew Toy at Park

Sometimes when you observe dogs, especially puppies, play, you’ll see them take turns humping. At this moment one dog humps the other, and after a few moments, you’ll see the other dog hump his or her playmate. It’s a natural play behavior because it happens even among prepubescent dogs.

And did I mention “his” and “her”? I did, simply because humping is not limited to male dogs. Even female dogs mount at times. Therefore, this isn’t an act simply for the sake of procreation.

They are Displaying Their Emotions

For older dogs, humping is also a sign of dominance. When dogs mount other dogs, they might be expressing their dominance over them. When dogs try to hump people, however, it could also be that the dog is showing affection.

Dogs also hump as a response to stress, anxiety, or excitement. Although dogs that hump visitors is a source of never-ending embarrassment for their owner, it is actually the dog’s way to give the visitor a proper welcome. They’re simply happy and excited to meet the visitor.

Image showing a happy dog with his owner in a park

Dogs that are feeling the stress of being left alone may also hump. I myself had a firsthand experience regarding this. There was one time when all the people in my home went outside the house, leaving me and our household dog inside.

I fed the dog, and she in her excitement humped my leg. I was still a kid back then and didn’t know how to respond. But don’t worry because later we’ll talk about how to respond the right way.

As a Response to Meeting Other Dogs

Have you ever walked your dog to the park, only to become embarrassed by your dog’s rude behavior of humping all the other dogs around?

Image showing two dogs playing together

Dogs, especially those who are often left to their own devices without other dogs at home, often get excited when they meet other dogs. Social canine interactions that involve short mounting episodes are acceptable, as long as they don’t lead to dog fights, oppression of the dog being mounted, and bloodletting.

As an Effect Underlying Medical Conditions

Dogs experiencing discomfort or pain from certain medical conditions might hump in an attempt to relieve that discomfort. These conditions include urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and even allergies that cause itching or sensitive body parts.

dog lying on the floor

It’s perfectly understandable when the dog humps because of these medical conditions, but owners have to deal with it the right way. In these cases, seek out medical attention immediately.

They are Seeking Attention

To some dogs, one of the possible ways they could get a human’s attention is by hugging their owner’s legs and giving it a hump. Perhaps, dogs that do this aren’t properly trained and don’t know what is the accepted canine social behavior, and so they merely default to what they know to do.

People who respond by laughing at the dog might encourage the behavior. Of course, some people might be offended and embarrassed, but giving the dog a negative response would also not be the appropriate course of action.

Image showing a little dog playing with leafs

Now that we’ve given you the reasons why dogs hump, we’re going to talk about how we can stop our dogs from humping. Take note that it requires patience and a lot of love for our furry friends. When it gets tough, bear in mind that when we succeed, we’re going to benefit from it as well.

How to Stop Your Dog from Humping

There are several ways to address the issue of dog humping depending on the context of the action and the situation during the occurrence. I will try to slowly talk you into each approach in the hope that you will succeed.

What to Do When You Notice Pre-Humping Signs

Did you know that you can actually stop the humping before it even starts? Carefully watch your dog for signs and quickly distract him with something like a toy or play with him so that the humping doesn’t start.

What to Do When your Dog Humps Other Dogs

When your dog starts to hump other dogs, there will be times when fights will ensue especially if the mountee resists. For this, you must make your dog understand that this rude behavior will cause all the fun and excitement that he/she has to stop. To do this, you can enforce time-outs. By using a few things like a light drag-line connected to the leash to help pull your dog away, time-outs will greatly help modify your dog’s behavior.

Image showing a dog humping another one

First, ask a friend if he (or she) is willing to let his dog take part in the training. Bring your dog to your friend’s home to play with his dog. By bringing your dog there, you avoid giving your dog a “home court advantage” that might raise your dog’s perceived level of dominance.

Once there, observe your dog carefully. If they start playing appropriately, just let them keep playing. But if your dog starts getting aroused and starts mounting the other dog, step in and keep your dog from approaching the other dog. If you have a close relationship with your pet, it will be easier to do this.

If blocking doesn’t work, gently pull the drag-line and cheerfully call your dog out, saying “oops,” then “time-out.” These words will tell your dog that the behavior is inappropriate and has to be stopped. In addition, this will tell your dog that he won’t be rewarded for his behavior.

Two Dogs Playing Tug Of War

After saying those words, take your dog away from the other dog. Ask your friend to separate his dog as well. Sit with your dog until the arousal has diminished and until he has calmed down. When he appears calm, release him so he could return to interacting with the other dog.

Keep repeating this method until you’re sure that the behavior has been put to rest. It may take several attempts, but be patient as the dog might soon give the behavior up, at least temporarily. Also, remember to stay calm and cheerful during the process. It may be harder and may take a lot more repetitions with older dogs that have the habit ingrained in them, but be patient. Repeated time-outs with each play session may be needed. Restricting your dog to a few playmates might also help restrict the behavior.

What to Do When Your Dog Humps a Human

I know that it’s embarrassing when our dog starts to hump a human, but since we understand that dog humping isn’t a strictly sexual behavior, we must resist that feeling and deal with our pets’ behavior accordingly. To handle this, you should enlist the help of the person being mounted. So for this, your focus should be on the person as well as your dog.

Image showing two dogs and a trainer in the park

First, tell the person being mounted that it is not a sexual behavior, though it may look like it. Tell the person that the dog is merely trying to get his or her attention. Don’t try to physically pull the dog away as it might respond with aggressive behavior.

Next, tell the person that he or she should not give any encouragement to the dog. They must not try to talk to the dog as the canine might consider it as some form of encouragement. Instead, they should simply get up and walk away from the dog. This will tell the dog that the behavior is unacceptable.

Adorable-dog jumping on his owner

You can also use the light drag-line to gently pull your dog away, safely freeing the person they chose to hump. By pulling the drag-line, you also signal a time-out to the dog. From here you can apply the time-out method explained above. Remember to be patient, calm and cheerful throughout the process.

If your dog keeps on repeating the rude behavior, you can just tether him to an area in the room or place where he can stay and be part of the crowd but unable to approach anybody to mount. Tethering will allow your dog to enjoy the social experience without being able to do something embarrassing.

What to Do When your Dog Humps an Inanimate Object

With dogs that hump pretty much anything they find, the problem is a bit more severe. To handle this, here are some things you can do:

Redirect your dog’s focus to something else

It’s natural for dogs to hump, as long as the object they mount is something appropriate, like their toys. Don’t allow your pet to hump your pillows, your living room sofa set, and your own footwear (let alone your visitors’).

A man playing-fetch-with-dog

To do this, remove the object and replace it with the dog’s own stuffed toy or an interactive toy. Time-outs will also help redirect the behavior. Since humping is a natural canine behavior, it would be difficult to stop it ultimately without replacing the habit. Choose to redirect his energies to something more acceptable.

Give your dog some exercise

Dogs are energetic and so they are always looking for ways to release that energy. Without something to release it to, dogs might hump. And so, give your dog some exercise.

Image showing a woman running with her dog neat the ocean

Go out and play fetch with your dog. Ask your dog to perform previously learned tricks. Walk your dog. Give it some structured exercise, or just let them run in the backyard.

Get your dog spayed or neutered

Unneutered and unsprayed dogs are likely to hump, and letting them go through the process might help minimize, if not extinguish, the behavior.

Get professional help from a trainer

You can always approach professional dog trainers for help in this matter, especially if your dog is old and the habit is deeply ingrained. They’ll gladly help you out.

Get medical help from a vet

If your dog’s humping is caused by medical problems, then you can approach a veterinarian for medical help.

Wrap Up

It’s much easier to stop your dog from humping at an early age. If you see the dog or puppy, show the behavior early, you should stop it as soon as possible. Don’t wait for your dog to grow older before you try to stop it. Remember, if your dog doesn’t learn that humping is an unacceptable behavior early in its life, it might think that it’s okay. Worse, the behavior might become ingrained in their system.

In doing all of the aforementioned ways to keep your dog from humping, do so in a calm and cheerful manner, no matter how young or old the dog is. Shouting at your dog or attempting to physically correct him (i.e. by hitting him with a hard object) might cause his stress levels to shoot up, and might cause him to show aggression towards you.

Image showing a woman laying on her back while is holding her little dog

Remember to be patient with your pet. Behavior training takes some time, and you might need to repeat the methods over and over. Be hopeful for your dog’s improvement.

Did you find this article helpful? Do you have any experience handling dogs that hump? How did you defuse the situation and how did you teach your dog not to do it again? We would love to hear all about it in the comments section below!

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

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