Your Questions: Humping?

Hi Katarina,

I have a question about my 2 year old Golden Retriever, Archie. Archie humps other dogs and will often hump objects too. I get so embarrassed by this at the park. Usually we just pull him off the other dog but this has not helped him stop. He will hump boy and girl dogs, and he was desexed when he was a puppy. Why is he doing this and how do I stop him?

Kate

Thanks for your question. Yes, humping can be an embarrassing behaviour to witness. Funny when your dog is not involved but not so much when they are.

No one can ever be sure why dogs do what they do. My theory is that humping usually happens for the following reasons….

It can be sexual, in that it feels good, and is a very natural behaviour for any animal. It’s an innate behaviour, dogs need to know how to do it without having been taught, so they can procreate. However, more often than not it has nothing to do with sexual tendencies. This is backed up by the fact that desexed dogs hump and so too do female dogs.

It can be a learned behaviour, in that a dog that is reinforced for humping is more likely to engage in this behaviour more often. The reinforcement can come from people’s attention, good or bad, or other dog’s attention, good or bad. It can often happen when play between dogs becomes very exciting. A dog who humps will have been paid off for this behaviour some how.

It can also be because of something called displacement behaviour. This behaviour occurs and becomes a habit as a result of a dog feeling anxious in a situation or from boredom. Similar to the way people smoke or suck their thumb. It gives your dog something to do and and provides them with some comfort. Many dogs engage in displacement behaviour, some hump, others dig, lick, chase their tail, or scratch themselves.

You need to determine a pattern of when the humping is happening (you could even write it down each time it happens), it could be when lots of dogs are around and you are standing still talking to other people at the park, when play gets really hyper, it could be when you have some tension in the home, or when Archie is put outside.

Once you have determined when it is likely to happen, you stand a good chance of changing Archie’s behaviour before he starts humping. Get him to sit to settle down (then release him), play a game with him, do some training, instead of standing still move around at the dog park. If you walk with your dogs rather than standing still they will be distracted by other things and less likely to engage in humping behaviour. You can replace the humping with any behaviour you want.

The less likely he engages in humping the less likely he will engage in it in the future. It will take time, stay on your toes, and be proactive about replacing it with a new behaviour.

Good luck.

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2 Responses to Your Questions: Humping?

  1. VJ says:

    Our female dog does this and she does it right after she leaves her crate whether it be in the morning or when we come home from being outside…never connected that it could be anxiety but that makes sense. Thanks for sharing.

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