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Dog Mounting: Is It About Sex?

Dog Mounting: Is It About Sex?

You may have read in Care2 causes about the male dog who was abandoned because his owner thought he was gay after he was found mounting another male dog. Fortunately, he was rescued hours before he was scheduled to be euthanized.

Humping behavior in dogs is often anthropomorphized and misunderstood. It may look like sex to humans, but unless it’s an intact male that is mounting a female dog in heat, it’s usually about dominance behavior and/or stress, not sex.

An article by certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant Pat Miller in The Whole Dog Journal called “Dog Mounting and Dog Dominance Behavior” explains, “Mounting behavior has nothing to do with sexual activity. Rather, itís often a social behavior, and sometimes a stress reliever. Nonsexual mounting of other dogs is generally a dominance, control, or challenge behavior, although when practiced by puppies itís primarily about play and social learning, beginning as early as 3-4 weeks. Mounting of humans is strictly nonsexual; it may be about control, it can be attention-seeking, and it can be a stress-reliever.”

In WebMD’s Article “Humping: Why Do Dogs Do It?, David S. Spiegel, VMD, says “in un-neutered 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 hasnít been socialized correctly and doesnít know appropriate canine behavior.”

Humping other dogs, male or female, is a problematic behavior for Sanchez. It’s one of the rare behaviors that I’ve chosen to control the environment rather than manage the behavior. I simply don’t expose him to many opportunities to exhibit the behavior. I don’t take him to dog parks, and when we are hiking, I’m very observant of his behavior if another large dog is approaching. If he’s getting excited, I ask him to do something else he’s been trained to do during distractions (such as sit or a trick) and/or I use my body to block the energy between the two dogs. I’ve never been able to figure out why he has a propensity to hump almost exclusively Golden Retrievers, but it also helps me become alert when I see a Golden approaching.

Do your dogs mount other dogs or hump inanimate objects or people? Thanks for sharing your stories below in a comment.

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.


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4:31PM PDT on Jul 5, 2015

When I was a teen we had two spayed female Poodles. One would hump pillow but only kapok pillows. As long as we kept them away from her she was fine.

7:20AM PDT on Mar 22, 2015

I have a friend with a Labrador female that told me that every night as a routine before beddietime her doggie would hump her stuff animal. Other than that we have discourage our dog to display or do that in our household. She is very clear about that.

8:42AM PDT on May 10, 2013

thanks. our great dane used to hump us.. it was bad lol

4:38AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Colleen, the article doesn't say "you should let your dog rub up on your leg"; it says that just because you have a wrong understanding of dog's behavior, doesn’t mean it is ok to send your dog to the shelter where it will be euthanized.

People should educate themselves before having a pet. So many animals have died due to people's ignorance.

4:00PM PST on Mar 2, 2013

If I were from Tennessee, I would know that the humping is an example that my dog was damned because he/she was a homosexual. Since I am not, I think it is an instinct that some dogs do more than others. It seems to me when dogs do this it is like rubbing their noses on about dog's bottom and sniffing or they are rather insecure. I don't really care; I love my dog whether or not she chooses to hump. I try to love her as unconditionally as she loves me.

8:31AM PST on Mar 1, 2013

Any dog owner who doesn't understand this basic behavior shouldn't have a dog. This is what dogs DO, and as the article explains, it is almost always non-sexual. People get too uptight about things they simply do not understand. Animals do not have speech and they can't exactly sit down and write a message to say "I am feeling some stress here." or "Hey, I was here first -- this is my house so you have to do what I say." They use their bodies to speak. We humans are too ignorant to understand THEIR language, so we almost always get it wrong and assign our own ideas and values to what they do.

I remember a true redneck telling me once that he was going to shoot his dog because the dog had the audacity (my word, not Bubba's) to urinate over the spot where he (the man) had just urinated. He felt the dog was trying to take control and he was having none of that! People can be so incredibly stupid!

8:52AM PST on Feb 23, 2013

Animals have stress, attention disorder, adhd, depression, anxiety or nothing at all....just like we do. They are like your children, part of the family, feel emotions, have their ups and downs too. It happens to be part of everyday life for them as well!

7:44PM PST on Feb 20, 2013

my dog only tries this on visiting dogs ... mostly females : /

4:08AM PST on Feb 19, 2013


1:09AM PST on Feb 18, 2013

My pomeranian humps her stuffed animals. She tosses them in the air, puts them in her mouth and shakes them, and then mounts them. We joke that she likes S&M.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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