You are so excited for your new puppy as it acclimates to its new house and family members. You love playing with your puppy and are keeping watch as it plays with your other dog. At first, they seemed like best friends.
However, your older dog has started to try to hump your new puppy. You may be absolutely bewildered at why this is occurring. Embarrassed is another word that may come to your mind if you have guests in your home, at the dog park, or just out enjoying the day with your dog.
Humping, also referred to as inappropriate mounting, is a common behavior problem that many dog owners can relate to. For most dog owners, it is a behavior that we would like to curb in our dogs.
Let’s discuss the reasons why your dog may be exhibiting inappropriate mounting and how we can reduce its occurrences.
You may have seen your dog mount their stuffed animal toys, bedding, furniture, and even yourself. This undesirable behavior is a normal reaction that dogs can exhibit. It usually means that your dog’s emotions are overstimulated, and this is their way of acting out.
When the mounting happens in these cases, it is not a sexualized behavior but one of trying to get the excitement out. When some dogs get excited, they may run around in circles, affectionately known as “the zoomies,” but other dogs may show their excitement by mounting.
When your dog is playing with your puppy, they may get excited at all the rowdy action occurring and try to mount your puppy. You may also see this behavior occur when you have guests in your home, especially if it may have been a long time since you had any guests over.
This could send your dog into overdrive as their excitement takes over, and they may try to mount a leg or two. We can only imagine the depths of embarrassment you may feel at your dog’s overly friendly welcome.
Your dog may also be stressed, and mounting can be a way to feel better. If you see that your dog is exhibiting these behaviors at certain times, make a note of the environment and see if there is a catalyst that is causing this. Is your dog mounting the couch cushion when you leave? It could be a way to self-soothe any separation anxiety.
Are loud people in your home, and your dog goes straight to mounting their bed? They could be overstimulated and anxious.
Your dog could be mounting due to medical issues, like prostate problems in male dogs. Painful erections that will not subside can also be a reason for your male dogs to mount.
The ladies are not left out of this either. Your female dog may also engage in mounting behaviors to relieve their stress.
Although opinions amongst veterinarians may vary, neutering or spaying your dog has been argued to help reduce undesirable behaviors like excessive, inappropriate mounting. When a dog’s reproductive organs are left intact, the hormones they secrete in your dog’s body may cause them to mount as a sexualized behavior.
This may be the reason some veterinarians promote early neutering and spaying, as the hormones will not have a chance to affect your dog’s behavior. Of course, this would be a decision for you and your veterinarian to make together, as early neutering and spaying can have health consequences for some breeds.
Dominance vs. Play
Although we may think that a dog may be mounting another to show dominance, this behavior is actually rare. Puppies may show this behavior with each other as a way to play and practice for reproduction later on. Mostly, mounting is seen as a way to release energy and excitement.
If your dog is deciding to show their dominance, it may be a way to see how long they can get away with the behavior with the dogs they are in company with. Some dogs may get annoyed at this and show aggression to the mounting dog as a way to stop it from happening.
As dogs play, primarily younger dogs and puppies, their playtime may resort to mounting each other. This is generally harmless, and your dog is just practicing for if and when they may reproduce later.
If your puppy is exhibiting this behavior and you want it to stop, start redirecting them as they are young. The longer a dog partakes in this behavior, the harder it becomes for them to stop.
How To Stop This Behavior
When it comes to mounting, the best way to curb this behavior is to watch for the cues that your dog is about to partake in mounting an object or your puppy. Your dog may show behaviors like excessive licking or rubbing up against your puppy.
If you see that your dog is trying to get behind your puppy, you can then place your dog into another room for a few minutes to show that this behavior is undesirable. After a few minutes, let your dog back out to resume playing. As soon as you see this behavior occur, take your dog for another time-out.
Never show reinforcing behavior when your dog is about to mount or you catch them in the act. Don’t give your dog treats or offer any praises, as your dog will think that you want them to do this.
Although you don’t want to enforce this behavior, any direct punishment like hitting or kneeing your dog off whatever they are mounting is not recommended at all. Punishment like this can cause more issues with your dog as they will now be fearful of you. If you are trying to keep your dog off of your puppy, keep a leash on them in the house so you can safely pull your dog off.
Provide Mental Stimulation
Making sure your dog has enough physical and cognitive engagement can help keep their emotions in check. A dog that hasn’t been on a nice, long walk in a long time can get super excited when they have a chance to run around and play with another dog. Consistently taking your dog on walks can help keep their energy levels from becoming too out of check.
When you are not able to take your dog on long walks, giving them toys and treat puzzles can help keep them engaged and give them a positive outlet to focus on. You can also use toys and puzzles to redirect behavior.
When you catch your dog mid-hump, you can gently redirect by giving them a toy. If your dog engages with the toy, then hand them a treat to show that you would rather them play with the toy.
If you believe this inappropriate mounting is due to stress, keep a journal of when you observe your dog mount objects or your new puppy. Take note of the environment.
Is it too loud? Too many people in one room? Are there too many dogs playing? Is the puppy annoying, rather than playing with your dog? Taking notes during these occurrences can help you spot any trends.
Adjusting Behaviors for the Better
We’ve all seen dogs trying to mount each other at the dog park, and of course, many may find this a little humorous. However, most dog parents do find this behavior undesirable, especially if it involves mounting a new puppy in the home.
With careful behavior management, your dog can learn how to process their emotions in another way than getting “too friendly” with objects, other animals, you, or your guests.
You can also find support in our AskVet veterinarians. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer all of your behavioral health questions. Their expert opinions can guide you in redirecting behavior and even recommend additional care when they believe veterinarian assistance may be necessary.
Inappropriate Mounting | Animal Health Topics / School of Veterinary Medicine
Influence of Gonadectomy on Canine Behavior | NCBI
Inappropriate Mounting in Dogs | Behavioral Science UC Davis
Treating prostate problems in dogs | Oklahoma State University