Humping is Normal, Yet Rude and Lewd

Recently, I received a question from a dog owner who was concerned that her neutered male was a dog park predator — hooked on humping. She was worried whether there was any harm in letting him mount, or whether she should be discouraging the behavior.

 

Unlike most other mammals, neutered male and to a lesser extent, neutered female dogs will continue to mount other dogs. Quite common and quite normal. In fact, neutered male dogs tend to mount more than intact males, presumably due to a lack of discriminatory experience.

 

In terms of the potential humping-harm inflicted by a sexual predator: basically, humping other dogs is a normal and natural doggy behavior that is often considered by many other dogs and people to be unwanted, annoying and inappropriate. Perhaps a human analogy is helpful here. Equivalent human behavior is obviously as perfectly normal and natural, yet the behavior is utterly undesirable and unwanted without mutual consent and it is blatantly inappropriate in public. We manage to control our instincts and dogs can too.

 

If your puppydog gets all perky in the park, I would suggest that you first ask the owner of the other dog whether it is OK for the dogs to play and maybe mount. Many owners object very strongly when their dog is physically humped by another, especially when the humper has the ineffably rambunctious joie de hump of a Lab-cross.

 

Also, if your male dog is un-neutered and his prospective mountee is female, please do check that she is either neutered, or not in heat. (Humping is how unwanted puppies are made.)

 

To prevent or stop your dog mounting, simply instruct your dog to “Sit.” In fact, a simple sit will prevent most annoying or inappropriate behavior problems; a dog cannot sit and misbehave at the same time. If your dog sits promptly and reliably when requested, you may easily control his behavior. If your dog does not sit promptly and reliably when requested in the face of temptation or distraction, either teach him to sit, or keep him on leash. If the presence of a female dog causes you dog to disregard your instructions, most certainly the dog will likewise ignore you in other situations — when a toddler approaches, a jogger runs by, or when off-leash with squirrels in sight.

 

Sit as a solution is so beautifully simple, yet most people think it would be impossible and so they don’t even try… “How can you control a dog’s basic instinct with training?” Controlling your dog’s instincts desires is, of course, the whole point of training. Certainly, most people learn to control their no less powerful instincts and cravings by self-control and to teach a dog to do so is actually much easier, especially if training is integrated into the dog’s social encounters and play sessions. By frequently interrupting play by asking a dog to sit, “Rover, Sit. Good Dog. Go Play”, rather than remaining a distraction to training, interaction with other dogs now becomes an extremely effective reward that reinforces training. In our most recent DVD — SIRIUS® Adult Dog Training — there is a wonderful section on controlling dogs during off-leash play. A small Poodle named Dolce is in the sweet process of meditating mounting another dog, whereupon his owner requests him to “Sit” from several yards away. He sits immediately and then is rewarded by being told, “Go Play.” Of course, if the other dog and owner were both willing, a more effective reward would have been, “Go mount!” Basically, Dolce’s sweet life and basic rampaging instincts were easily and effectively controlled by his owner’s distant voice.

 

Even though you may be certain that you have good control over your dog when off-leash and the other owner is perfectly OK with your dog mounting their male, neutered female, or anoestrous female, please do be prepared for the other dog to object. Whereas it is normal and natural for male dogs to try to mount anything with a pulse and most things without, it is perfectly normal and natural for other male dogs and neutered, anestrous, or even unwilling estrous females to strongly object to unwanted and overly amorous advances.

 

So, it is probably best not to let your dog mount other park dogs at random. To avoid other dog owners from becoming upset, we don’t allow our three male dogs to mount other dogs in public places. However, what they decide to do in the privacy of their own home is up to them and us. When we are at home, mounting is OK so long as it is not disruptive. However, if mounting disturbs the peace, we simply tell them to knock it off. In fact, as I write this, Dune is humping little Hugo and Kelly just said, “Dune, leave him alone.” Dune dismounted!

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