Posted in Dog Behavior
by Laura Yurchak
Many people believe that mounting is a sign of dominance in a dog. There goes that D word again. It seems like everything a dog does now a days is a “sign of dominance”. I really hate that word.
The mounting behavior is a normal dog behavior.
- It can be sexual in nature.
- It can be a sign of dominance.
- It can be a reaction to something that excited the dog.
- The dog may not have been socialized correctly and doesn’t know that it is inappropriate.
Most mounting is not sexual. If you watch puppies play, mounting is a normal part of puppy play. We see mounting/ humping in our playgroups from time to time. These dogs are not soliciting sex nor are they displaying dominance. Some dogs simply learned this as part of their play pattern as puppies and no one ever told them to stop doing it. For others, it comes about from a heightened excitement (hormonal) level.
Dr. Karen Overall states that when dogs exhibiting this behavior are castrated, mounting decreases by approximately 60%. But the longer the dog practices this behavior, the greater the degree of the learned component over the hormonal component. Meaning that the longer the dog rehearses the behavior, the stronger the habit becomes.
What can you do about it? If the dog hasn’t habituated to the behavior, reducing the hormone levels through castration can help. Dogs that have habituated need to be under supervision when the environmental factors are present to trigger the mounting behavior. Stopping the dog as soon as the behavior begins, better yet right before the behavior begins, and redirect the dog to an alternate behavior can help break the habit depending on how strong the habit has become. In other words, stop the dog from mounting and give them something else to do.
Training can be fun and teaches the dog how to response correctly to cues. It gives them mental and physical stimulation. Stop your dog from mounting and cue them to fetch, find it (nose work), roll over, shake, or watch. This can be a fun way to break the habit. Also remember that a tired dog is a good dog. I can’t stress this enough. Daily exercise can reduce or eliminate many unwanted behaviors.
It can be very embarrassing for the owner of the dogs that mount-hump. In your defense, remember that it is a normal dog behavior. If it is excessive and annoying, try the things listed above. Contact me if you have questions or would like to discuss this further.
Clinical Behavior Medicine for Small Animals by Dr. Karen Overall