Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Healthy Dogs

Font Size
A
A
A

Humping: Why Do Dogs Do It?

Dog experts weigh in on why dogs hump and how to get them to stop.
By Sandy Eckstein
WebMD Pet Health Feature
Reviewed by Audrey Cook, BVM&S

At a local dog park in Atlanta, the other dog owners have a nickname for Lois Gross’ dog, a Dutch shepherd. “They say ‘Here comes Humping Taz,’” the Atlanta resident says of her 5-year-old, spayed female, Taz. “She doesn’t want to play or run, she just wants to hump all the other dogs in the park. We kind of joke about it, but some people get really upset when she gets on their dog so I have to watch her constantly.”

Although the image of a dog humping a person’s leg, a pillow, or another dog can draw a laugh in a movie or on television, in real life it can be annoying, embarrassing, and even cause fights between dogs.

Recommended Related to Dogs

Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs: Diagnosis and Treatment

This disease affects middle-aged dogs of both sexes. It is characterized by an acute inflammatory reaction of the interior of the smaller airways. Chronic bronchitis should be considered whenever a cough persists for more than two months. In most cases the cause is unknown. Although some cases are preceded by kennel cough, infectious agents usually do not play a role except as secondary invaders. House dust, cigarette smoke, and other atmospheric irritants contribute to bronchial inflammation...

Read the Chronic Bronchitis in Dogs: Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

Why Do Dogs Hump?

Humping, or mounting, is a sexual position for dogs, but veterinarians who specialize in canine behavior say it often is done for other reasons as well.

David S. Spiegel, VMD, who has a behavioral veterinary practice near Swarthmore, Pa., says in unneutered and unspayed dogs under a year old, humping is usually sexual in nature. But in older dogs it can be a sign of dominance, a reaction to something that has excited the dog, like visitors arriving, or a sign that a dog hasn’t been socialized correctly and doesn’t know appropriate canine behavior.

“The topic draws giggles and laughs, but it’s a very real topic for some people,” Spiegel says. “Some dogs can become very compulsive about the behavior.”

Gary Landsberg, DVM, a veterinary behaviorist in Ontario, Canada, says mounting is common play behavior in puppies, and is even normal in the play of older dogs if it’s not taken to extremes. “You’ll often see one dog mount another, then a few minutes later they’ll switch off and the other dog will mount the first dog,” Landsberg says. “It’s a common play gesture.”

It’s done by males and females, even by dogs that have been neutered or spayed, he says. “It’s a play behavior that dogs do because no one has told them it’s not acceptable,” Landsberg said. “It can become enjoyable or a normal part of the dog’s day, so it keeps doing it. It’s the same as jumping up or barking at the door.”

The Embarrassment of Humping

Debbie Sampson of Canton, Ga., says her Rottweiler, Moose, has a tendency to hump dogs at the dog park, although he doesn’t do it at home with her other two dogs. Most dogs, she says, will get away from him, but when a dog submits to the behavior, it can get pretty embarrassing. “He can really get a little out of hand,” Sampson says. “Sometimes we just want to yell at him, ‘Get a room.’”

Then there’s little Lulu, 5, a spayed Chihuahua mix that Sampson adopted. Lulu came into the house addicted to humping. “I work at home and she humps my leg all day while I sit at my desk,” Sampson says. “That’s bad enough, but she’ll do it when people are over, too. I try to pick her up and distract her, but that only works for a few minutes. The problem is you just don’t know when she’s going to do it.”

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

boxer dog
Slideshow
dog on couch
Evaluator
 
bad dog
Slideshow
Sad dog and guacamole
Slideshow
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 
Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
puppy eating
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
puppy eating from bowl
Slideshow