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Mounting (aka Humping) in Dogs

by Anne-Marie Mayes


Over the years working with dogs and their people, I have found that owners are most embarrassed by their dog humping or mounting other dogs. Believe it or not, mounting is quite normal.  Most people believe that mounting is either the dog showing dominance or for reproductive reasons, but there are many other reasons as to why dogs do this. Years ago I attended a seminar about the interpretation of mounting in dogs.  This presentation had some excellent video footage that showed a lot of important body language. Through education and experience with dogs I have learned that the context and overall behaviour is important to understand why your dog might be doing this.


  • The act of mounting can be related to the age of the dog. Puppies and younger dogs will mount one another while in play, particularly in groups of 3 where one is 'left out' and trying to gain attention. This is normal behaviour as long as it doesn’t reach extremes such as pinning other puppies down or aggressive biting. It is suggested to neuter or spay your dog at the start of sexual maturity, around  6-8 months of age, so the increase in hormones does not lead to mounting becoming a habit or practiced behaviour.  As puppies grow older, continued mounting behaviour can be due to anxiety, overexcitement, or become less innocent and more related to reproductive purposes. It is best to interrupt the dogs when they mount and redirect them to another behaviour such as tricks or go to mat.


  • Anxiety or stress can also be an underlying cause of mounting behaviour. If a dog has not had proper socialization they may be unsure of how to interact so they begin mounting to greet or initiate play with other dogs. Stress could also be caused by something in the environment, a recent change at home, or even over-excitement. For example, if there is too much going on - maybe a larger number of dogs or people than they are used to, or more rambunctious play. Anxiety is a common cause behind dogs who mount humans' legs or other objects as well.


  • Conflict-related mounting does also occur, where one dog may try to get on top of another accompanied by growling, biting, or holding the other dog down. This should be interrupted immediately and may need intervention from a professional. Issues can also arise when the dog being mounted does not like or tolerate this type of interaction, despite the mounting dog not intending to cause a fight. Check back to my previous article about different play styles for more information on finding out how your dog prefers to play.


The best suggestion to decrease mounting is to have your dog spayed or neutered to decrease sexual tenancies.  It is important to socialize your dog early to many different environments involving people and other dogs.  This will decrease excitement, arousal and anxiety around other people and dogs. 


If your older puppy or adult dog has developed a bad habit already, I suggest working with a certified trainer or joining a class that focuses on teaching dogs appropriate greetings, and what body language or other signals to watch for when interacting with dogs and people so you can learn how to redirect your dog to better behaviours.




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