What to do if your dog humps

brown dog on white background

Overview

  • Mounting and humping is normal and natural for both male and female dogs, but it’s a behaviour people don’t tend to like!
  • It occurs for a number of different reasons (not always sexual).
  • Stopping your dog humping will involve distracting them, focusing their energy on something else, teaching them to be calm, and to play appropriately.
  • Neutering can help prevent humping if it’s hormone driven.

Why do dogs hump?

Sexual behaviour

Unneutered dogs tend to hump more due to their hormones. Some dogs also will even hump their toys and blankets etc.

Play

Mounting is a common when dogs get over excited during play.

To calm themselves

Some dogs mount or hump to relieve stress and anxiety.

Excitement

If a dog is over excited, or very energetic, mounting and humping can help get rid of excess energy.

Medical problems

A dog may mount and rub against an object if they have itchy skin. Mounting can also sometimes be associated with bladder and urine problems.

A small black dog humping the leg of a man in shorts

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for advice if your dog is excessively mounting and humping, or becomes aggressive when you try to stop them. They will check your dog for health problems, and discuss the best next steps to reduce the behaviour. It’s likely your vet will recommend that your dog is seen by an accredited behaviourist.

How to stop your dog humping

It’s important not to punish your dog for humping because it’s a normal and natural behaviour for them. If it doesn’t happen very often and doesn’t bother you, it may not need addressing. However, if it’s happening regularly, or becoming a problem, fortunately, with the right training, time, and patience, it’s a behaviour that can often be reduced.

Neutering

Castrating a male dog will help if their humping behaviour is solely hormone related.

Socialisation

Socialising your dog with others from a young age will help teach them to play and interact nicely.

Exercise

Ensure your dog is getting enough exercise and healthy play. Having fun and being tired will help reduce the behaviour.

Removing triggers

If your dog humps to relive stress, removing the situation or object that makes them stressed, and reducing their anxiety through behavioural therapy should help reduce their need to mount/hump. For more information speak to your vet/an accredited a behaviourist.

Teaching calmness

If your dog humps when they get over excited, help keep them calm by controlling how excited they get, and teach them to settle (with treats).

Distraction and alternative behaviours

If your dog humps to get you or other dogs to play, it’s important to teach them that the fun stops when they start to hump. When they start to mount, stop them playing (by distracting them with a treat), ask them to sit down, and give them the treat. You will need to repeat this every time it happens and it might take some time for them to stop the behaviour completely.

Published: November 2020

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst