Mounting and Masturbation in Dogs
Medical Problems to Rule Out
Various medical problems, including urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, priapism (persistent, often painful erections) and skinallergies, can influence a dog’s mounting behavior. These issues can be serious if not properly treated and require medical attention rather than behavioral treatment. Dogs suffering from one of these or other medical issues often spend a lot of time licking and chewing the genital area. If you notice your dog excessively mounting, licking or chewing himself, or rubbing his body against things, take him to a veterinarian to rule out medical concerns.
What to Do About Excessive Mounting and Masturbation
If you think your dog may become aggressive if you stop him from mounting other dogs, people or objects, do not attempt to do so. Instead, consult a qualified professional, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or Associate CAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB). If you can’t find a behaviorist in your area, you can seek help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but be sure to determine whether she or he has professional training and extensive experience successfully treating aggression. This type of expertise isn’t required for CPDT certification. Please read our article, Finding Professional Help, for information about finding one of these experts in your area.
Mounting During Play, in Response to Stress or for Sexual Reasons
- If your dog mounts infrequently (once or twice a day at most) and it isn’t bothersome to you, other people or other dogs, it’s not necessary to stop his behavior.
- If your dog’s mounting or masturbation does bother you, other people or other dogs, try to distract your dog. If you can, get his attention before he starts mounting or masturbating. Some dogs display amorous-looking behavior before mounting, so if your dog sidles up to something or someone and starts to pant, lick, whine, paw or rub against the person, dog or object, he may soon start to mount or hump. If you see your dog performing any of the behaviors above, or if you see him start to mount someone or something, toss a toy, play a game, give your dog a chewie, or ask him to perform some previously learned basic obedience skills or tricks that he enjoys (sit, down, shake, etc.).
- If you have an intact male dog, consider neutering him. Although neutering doesn’t always stop a dog from mounting or masturbating, it does reduce his sexual motivation-especially if the behavior is triggered by the presence of a female dog who’s in heat. Likewise, if you have an intact female dog, consider spaying her. It might reduce her motivation to hump other dogs, especially if she only mounts when she’s in heat or when she’s around other female dogs in heat. Spaying or neutering your dog has other benefits, too. It prevents the birth of unwanted puppies, and it helps prevent serious medical problems like mammary and testicular cancers.
- Be warned: If your dog mounts other dogs, he may get himself into trouble. Many dogs don’t like to be humped. They might take offense and start a fight with your “amorous” dog. If you have a hump-happy dog, you might want to teach him to leave other dogs alone when you ask him to. To learn how to teach your dog a “leave it” cue, please see our article, Teaching Your Dog to “Leave It.” Once you’ve taught your dog what “leave it” means, you can start using it during his interaction with other dogs. Watch your dog carefully when he plays with his pals. As soon as you see him preparing to mount another dog tell him to “Leave it.” Remember to reward him if he does. If he doesn’t, end his play session and work on leave it without other dogs present for a while longer. If your dog habitually humps other dogs, you can also try teaching him to play games with you so that he’s less interested in other dogs. Tug and fetch are great!
- If your dog has developed a habit of mounting you or other people, discourage him from humping by pushing him off, turning away, sitting down or somehow adopting a position that prevents him from mounting. If your dog won’t stop, say “Nope!” and immediately take him to a quiet, safe room for a short time-out. (Make sure that there aren’t any fun toys for him to play with in the time-out area.) Leave your dog alone for one to three minutes. When the time-out is over, let your dog out and behave as if nothing happened. There’s no need to act like you’re angry. If your dog tries to mount again, repeat the sequence above and give your dog another time-out. If you have to give your dog a time-out more than a couple of times, you may start to have trouble catching your dog when you say “Nope!” If that’s the case, it will help to clip a lightweight two- to four-foot leash onto your dog’s collar and let him drag it around at home when you’re there to supervise him. Then you can pick up the leash when you need to take your dog to his time-out area. Be sure to remove the leash when you can’t supervise your dog so that it doesn’t accidentally get caught on furniture or get wrapped around your dog’s legs.