Why do dogs hump?

April 13, 2012

You are walking in the park with your well groomed good looking dog. Then here comes along the cute but aloof girl you have wanted to know in school. She’s looking at your dog. Good! The dog will break the ice. You smiled and said “hi” when suddenly the dog started humping the lady’s leg. Disaster!!

Why do dogs hump? Dogs are commonly seen humping other dogs, furniture, pillows, toys and it was noted that they have the inclination to hump people’s legs. This is an inherent behavior of dogs although there can be a reason or a motivation to make the dog do this act. Dog humping can often lead to dog fights. It is therefore necessary to understand why dogs hump in order to curb this behavior that brings embarrassment to the dog owner and to whoever happens to be around.

The most common reason why dogs hump is sexual. This is a sexually dimorphic behavior although humping is most common in male dogs. Female dogs in heat can be seen humping other females and of course males too. This could result to unwanted pregnancies. The testosterone and the hormone that increases the sexual behavior of the dogs for the main purpose of reproduction promote humping. In a wolf pack only the alpha male and the alpha female are allowed to mate. Other members of the pack are given the responsibility to care for the pups. The humping behavior is equated to masturbation to satisfy the sex drive of these dogs.

Although humping is in the genetics of the dog it can be triggered or motivated by other factors. Male and female dogs would hump if the genital area is irritated and itchy. This behavior that was started due to a physical issue would become a habit for the reason that the dog gained pleasure from it. This can be one of the reasons why neutered male dogs and splayed female dog continue the humping habit. Contrary to what a lot of owners believe, neutering and splaying will not curb the humping habit of the dog. However, neutering lessens the sexual pressure on the dog. Changing the humping habit can be a lot easier. Anxiety and obsessive/compulsive behavior was noted to be one of the causes why a dog humps.

The humping behavior is to show dominance over other dogs. This is the reason why male dogs can be seen humping another male dog. In primitive dogs, the dominant male is the only one allowed to breed females. Dog will only allow being mounted by dogs it considers to be higher in rank. We know that dogs are affectionate and loving creatures. Some would form a strong bond with the whole family while others would be devoted to a single person. Dogs hump people because they think people are members of their pack. A dog mounting your leg is telling you that he is dominant and that he occupies a higher position in the pack than you. Of course this should never be allowed. The dog should be made to understand that the human is higher in rank, that the human is the alpha male. A dog allowed to think otherwise will be one stubborn and hard to control dog.

This is not the only reason why the humping habit of the dog must be controlled. A dog that is not restrained from humping will be obsessive with the act. This can result to physical irritations. Moreover, it can be oppressive to the humped or the target dog.

The humping behavior of the dog have caused many embarrassing moments for the dog owner. The habit can also have physical repercussion on the dog. Fortunately, there are ways by which this unwanted behavior can be eliminated. Well mannered dogs may be deterred from doing the act by a simple “NO!” from the pet owner.

Training and socialization would help a lot. The dog can be distracted from humping by sit, run, fetch and other commands. Some owners would enlist the help of a vet to curb the pet’s unwanted behavior. Prozac is one of the medications prescribed for the dog. Medications and distracting commands may fail to eliminate the humping habit. In this case spraying the dog with water every time it starts humping could help.

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