Ever have a dog who liked to express her eagerness to greet a new guest by grasping and humping their nubile knee? Curious why the other dogs nicknamed yours “Chester the Molester” at the dog park? Ever wonder WHY Lassie’s limitless libido continues to embarrass you, despite the fact that he/she was fixed years ago?
First, let’s clarify that canines are not just jumping on the “twerking” bandwagon, and Fido does not have a feisty fetish! Mounting is a simulated mating act that many dogs revert to when they are over-excited, aroused, and over-stimulated… not like that, you perverts!
For dogs, prolonged boredom (not enough mental and physical exercise) can induce over-excitable behaviors, often ones we the humans do not prefer — such as jumping up, barking incessantly, or in this case, mounting. This undesirable humping habit is not sexual driven as we’d like to assume, but rather associated with arousal stemmed from excessive pent-up energy. It’s important to confirm that BOTH genders, not just male dogs, engage in this inappropriate behavior, and regardless if they are spayed, neutered, or in tact. After all, it has little to do with sexual activity, and a lot more to do with BOREDOM. And we all know a bored dog is an unhappy dog, so consider having Wisconsin Pet Care take your dog for a mid day walk.
This excitability is part inherited, and part learned. Yes, dogs use this mounting gesture during sexual activity, and therefore it is an innate behavior. However, many of the contexts in which your dog tends to hump can come from a learned experience. For example, your dog has a learned association that your arrival home, or the entrance of a guest through the front door, means GOOD things! An overeager greeting can quickly turn into a scene “for adults only” if your dog has not been taught appropriate salutation behaviors.
Perhaps your dog is more inclined to mount other dogs during canine social gatherings, like at the dog park or daycare. This, too, can be triggered by over-excitement, and is more commonly seen in puppies and under-socialized dogs. Mounting is also a way for a dog to express “dominance” over another dog, using that height-seeking behavior to show the other pooch “who’s boss”. Sometimes the humping behavior is because of something more specific, such as insecurity. My Springer Spaniel will mount another dog if that dog is playing to rough with one of his pals. He mounts the other dog, as if to say “Your play style is making me uncomfortable! Stop that!”
So how do you stop such an undesirable behavior? The trick is proper socialization, and teaching appropriate behaviors instead. Enroll your dog in group classes, go on doggy walks with neighbors, meet up for a puppy play date. Teach your dog an alternative greeting behavior for when guests come over, such as “doorbell = go to your bed”. Give your dog some extra walks, especially with a professional dog walker. The more dogs and people your dog is acclimated to meeting, the less likely they will become over-stimulated during that greeting. Oh, and stop letting your dog YouTube Miley Cyrus videos!