Dog Humping | How to Train Your Dog Not to Hump Other Dogs

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A trip to the dog park is a fun time for our dogs.  We love walking along the trails with them and although Sydney prefers the humans, Rodrigo and Blue love the opportunity to play with other dogs.  Mouthing, growling, jumping, running, and chasing are part of the play.  What about the dog humping?  Lately, dog humping (or mounting) has become a growing concern for two reasons…

1.  Some dog owners are nervous when one dog mounts another, not wanting their dog to be dominated.  I’ve also encountered dog owners who mistakenly see the mounting as sexual and worry that their unspayed or neutered dog will become pregnant.

2.  Sometimes the dog humping leads to fights and there is nothing that ruins a dog park day faster than when play turns to fighting and we all hear the yelping.

I don’t want my dog to be seen as aggressive, so I’ve made a point of watching his body language and stepping in right before the dog humping starts, making Rodrigo sit until he settles down, and then releasing him to play.  Although some feel that mounting is a natural part of play, I’m working to train Rodrigo not to mount dogs at the park through positive reinforcement.

Here are a few more ideas on how to train your dog not to hump other dogs…

Fanna Easter CPDT-KA, KPA CTP is the National Dog Training Lead for Petco

After all the studies and polls, it seems humping is caused by stress or and/or a over stimulated dog. For example, in a dog park this can be a dog that is playing with other dogs roughly. Humping is often part of their play “repertoire”. Most dogs ignore the humping, however pet parents of the “humpee” seemed to be the most concerned, and most people separate the dogs. Humping can be a learned behavior, so I would recommend separating the dogs as soon as the pet parent sees the activity beginning.

I have a 98lb Bouvier that has humped other dogs since he was a baby. Since humping is part of his “play behavior”, and it happens so I always inform other pet parents this may or may not happen. Most of the time everyone laughs and I separate the dogs once the activity begins.

Lindsay, ThatMutt.com

For the most part I like to get involved before the humping escalates to a growl or a snap from one of the dogs. So I will give a voice correction – “hey!” and distract both dogs to break up any tension. It’s only natural for dogs to try to hump other dogs.

It’s part of working out their “pecking” order. But sometimes it can become a problem at the dog park with so much energy and such a wide variety of dogs, many with poor social skills. So in general I think it’s best to prevent humping as much as possible. If the dog seems to be humping all the time and causing problems, it would be best to socialize the dog in smaller groups first rather than the large group at the dog park. I would have the owner teach a solid “watch me” command to be able to get the dog’s attention at all times. The owner should also teach the dog solid obedience skills – sit, stay, down, come – so he or she can get control of her dog at all times. These skills should be worked on to perfection outside of the dog park first, then work on them with more distractions and eventually practice at the dog park.

Diane Podolsky, CPDT-KA, CTC, The Cultured Canine, LLC

Dr. Dunbar suggests teaching a reliable “Sit” cue for use in the dog park if one wishes to interrupt or prevent mounting. A sitting dog cannot mount at the same time! Perfect. As always, Dr. Dunbar’s comments are insightful and straight to the point. I think you will find them very helpful.

I wrote an article on this topic for my Examiner.com New York Small Dogs column.

Rachel Friedman, MSW, LISW, A Better Pet LLC

Dog humping dog is a normal behavior in dogs. While it certainly has sexual connotations in certain situations, it’s also fun. And doesn’t always have even a whiff of sex involved in it. I mean c’mon, there are so many things a dog can do. Without opposable thumbs there are real limits. So humping is in that repertoire of dog behaviors.

Like any behavior, if it isn’t a problem, don’t fix it. But if it is, and dog park people can be anthropomorphic and queasy about perceptions of sex, then teach your dog a drop dead reliable recall. So if he’s humping (or doing anything you don’t want for that matter), call him back. If you’re consistent, then he’ll start to go, and I’m paraphrasing “Say, every time I start humping Fideaux, My Peep calls me over. When I get there, he tells me “good boy, go play.” Hmmm. When I don’t hump Fid-Oh I don’t get interrupted from my fun play activity. Ergo, I will stop humping.” 

And if he doesn’t come when you call him, you’re not a benevolent leader and you shouldn’t be giving him freedom in the dog park until he learns it! So teach him! Need to know how? Hire a positive trainer!

Sarah Westcott, CPDT-KSA, Doggie Academy

In an ideal world, dogs would work out the whole humping issue on their own. Ideally, Dog A would hump Dog B. If it bothered Dog B, he’d correct Dog A appropriately and Dog A would respect that and cease the humping.

However, not every situation is ideal.

I will use my dog, Hank, as an example because he humps and gets humped.

If Hank is humping a dog and the other dog’s owner is uncomfortable, I will intervene. I will pull Hank off, ask him to sit, give him a bit of a time out to calm down and then release him to go play. Even if the other dog is dealing with Hank appropriately and the other owner is overreacting, I will still intervene. In addition to being a good dog owner, we need to be good neighbors and respect the feelings of our fellow dog owners.

If Hank is humping a dog and the other dog is unwilling to correct him, I will intervene in the same way. Some dogs will be too timid or scared to correct a humping dog, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t mind the situation. You cannot allow your dog to be a bully and we need to act as guardian for a dog that will not stand up for himself. If I’m unsure about the dog’s body language, I will pull Hank off and see what the other dog does. If he comes back for more, then he’s enjoying the play and I will allow them to continue to play. If he runs away, than I was correct to pull Hank away from him.

I am also a proponent of the “3 strikes and you’re out” rule. If Hank humps another dog and I pull him off for any reason, sometimes he will run right back to that dog and hump him again. If I have to pull him off 3 times, we immediately leave the dog run. I give Hank 2 opportunities to change his behavior and if he does not make a different choice then the result is the end of play time.

Hank is very good about giving appropriate corrections to dogs that hump him, so when the humping dog’s owner is embarrassed I will let them know its ok. They usually laugh when I tell Hank that he deserves it for all the humping he does!

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8 Comments

  1. Good points, Kimberly. I see the humping thing going on at the dog park and most owners take it in stride. I still get embarrassed (even though I logically know it’s not always sexual but more about dominance) but know that’s about me and not about the dog’s behavior.

    I think having a reliable SIT command in place is really helpful.
    Lisa at Practically Intuitive recently published..(UBC) Day 20: Friday Pinterest Tee-heesMy Profile

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    • I would love to take it in stride. I used to and I miss those days; another dog started humping Rigo and he would fight him off. Now it’s turned into a dominance thing with him. It can be terrible; he’s such a sweet boy, I would have for him to have a reputation as an aggressive dog.

      Kimberly
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  2. Jasmine never tried humping anybody. JD is pretty good listening when told to get off. Sometimes I let him do it, such as with his buddy at the farm, they can spend half a day taking turns humping each other. Son’s pup was very intent on humping JD, JD was lying on the ground and the pup was humping his head and JD didn’t care. Once, in the dog park a young lab was trying to hump JD, following him around the park as JD totally ignored it just going about his business; it looked pretty funny.

    So whether or not I let them do this depends on the dogs and whether or not they’ll listen when told to get off.
    Jana Rade recently published..Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: What Can Your Dog’s Gums And Tongue Tell You?My Profile
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    • I think you have it right, Jana

      The mellow dogs amaze me; at home our dogs put up with a puppy bouncing all around them, only correcting him here and there. It’s the best training system we’ve found :)

      Kimberly
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  3. Mounting or humping, of course, is what male dogs do when they mate. But as I’m sure we’ve all seen, dogs don’t only mount when mating, and they don’t only mount other dogs; they may also mount furniture, other animals, stuffed toys, and people. Once a dog whose behavior I was evaluating got on the back of the sofa behind me and began to hump my head. Female dogs mount, though less frequently than males.

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    • Thanks for your insight. I’ve seen dogs hump objects and people. Our Sydney tried to hump the puppy once, but he was too wiggly and she didn’t seem to know what she was doing. Her Brother, Rodrigo humps Blue all the time – again, Blue is too wiggly so it doens’t really work out.

      We try to keep the humping to a minimum and it’s not allowed when we’re on a walk or at the park (around other dogs). We’ve done a good job teaching Rodrigo that we’re dominant in that situation and it’s not necessary for him to claim the position.
      Kimberly recently published..Political Correctness has Inspired me to Redefine Alpha and PackMy Profile
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  4. I just took my 8 yr old vizsla in the dog park. He was so excited and actually poop 2x and peed. Then he mounted a 1 yr old pit bull who just recently neutered. It end up onto fight. The pit bull got my dog on the neck but good thing the owner able to separate them. Thank God its just superficial…I wonder what triggered it?

    Thanks!

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    • It’s interesting how dogs react to one another. Sometimes its the humans who trigger a fight without realizing it and sometimes it’s just part of the dog language. Rodrigo is terrible about this and why we don’t go to the dog park anymore, because he doesn’t seem to get that stranger dogs aren’t going to let him mount them. Even at home, I make Rodrigo dismount from his siblings. I know he’s going to do it when he puts his head on their back, he recognizes the tone when I say his name and gets down. LOL
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