Why do dogs hump things? Is it sexual? What if they’ve already been spayed/neutered? Do only male dogs do it? Why dogs hump is a question many pet owners have.

You are at the park and look over to see your 8-pound Chihuahua attempting to hump someone’s Boxer–or the Boxer’s owner’s leg. Oh, the embarrassment! Dogs do many embarrassing things, from rolling in stinky things to scooting across the carpet, to humping things. The team at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital is here to explain the reasons for this uncomfortable fact.

The Reasons Why Dogs Hump

Humping is a normal behavior in both male and female dogs, and it isn’t about dominance, in most cases. Humping or mounting more often occurs in puppies and in dogs who have not been altered. Here are 4 reasons why dogs tend to hump.

1. Play – Dogs play-hump other dogs as a way to engage in socialization and to challenge the other with a chase, wrestle, or other play expressions. Play is usually a form of practice among dogs. You will see them participate in other normal instincts and behaviors as a way to hone their skills.

2. Arousal – When a dog gets overly excited about something, including playtime itself, they will behave in an exuberant way. This includes sprinting at top speed, jumping, high-pitched barking, and humping. This is especially true when humping is done for pleasure. Puppies over 6 months and adult dogs sometimes hump as a form of masturbation as they have learned that it feels good.

3. Stress and anxiety – Dogs who are anxious will display their anxiety through a variety of behaviors, like yowling, digging, chewing, and even humping. When not redirected to another activity, it can become a chronic form of self-soothing or relieving stress. Stress-induced humping can lead to compulsive behaviors, which can be troublesome to both owner and dog.

4. Medical problem – If your pet is suddenly humping more, or has never expressed the behavior until recently, it may be a health problem. Coupled with licking, scratching, and scooting, your pet’s humping may be a result of an underlying illness like a urinary tract infection. Allergies that create skin disorders can also be an issue for your pet.

Not a Hump Day, Doggo

Humping, as a rule, is normal, natural behavior among canines. It’s a problem if your pet is humping often and in public with every dog who passes them by. We can understand why that would require some quick intervention to regain everyone’s good social standing. 

Here are a few ways to address a humping dog:

  • Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination. This can help rule out any medical conditions that may be causing the behavior in your pet.
  • If you haven’t neutered or spayed your dog, do so now. This is the biggest deterrent of mounting behavior.
  • Minimize your dog’s stress and anxiety with recommendations on behavioral health from your veterinarian. Create a stress-free home by identifying anxiety triggers and minimizing or removing them from the environment.
  • Never scold or punish your dog, but rather find something else they like to do, like playing fetch or running to redirect them. Reward them with a treat for going along with the new activity.
  • Spend more time with your pet working on appropriate socialization and fun. They may not be getting enough attention or exercise.
  • Keep your pet from social situations like dog parks until you get a handle on the embarrassing faux pas.

More Questions?

Your team at ULVH is here to help with all of your pet’s behavioral needs and more. If we can answer more questions about why dogs hump, please call us or schedule an appointment.