How to Stop Dog Humping

By Tammy Dray

Humping might seem funny at first. But laughing about it or encouraging the behavior can result in disaster. By stopping dog humping early on, you will help your dog becomes better adjusted and better suited to deal with stress and difficult situations.

Understanding Humping Behavior

While you might think of humping as a sexual act, most humping is actually connected with dominance behavior, seen most commonly seen in males, but also in females. Dogs may also hump other dogs or even humans as a sign of stress, when they are overexcited or simply because they lack proper socializing. For example, the bossy bulldog who is humping his owner's leg might be trying to demonstrate his dominance over him, while the tiny chihuahua humping the visitors might be simply overly excited and not know how else to let that show.

Dominance and Pack Order

Dogs who are insecure will try mounting another dog or a person when they feel they need to secure their dominant position or establish control over somebody. They might also hump as a way to challenge for a position or to request attention. In fact, humping human legs is often a way for dogs to attract attention, especially if they are being ignored by their owners, or feel a challenge because of the presence of a visitor or another pet.

One way to deal with this is to teach your dog the "leave it" command as soon as the behavior starts. You can also tell visitors in advance to use a firm "no!" if the dog starts the behavior in their presence. This would reaffirm that humping is unacceptable and drive the message that it must stop.

Medical Solutions

Neutering can effectively stop humping behavior, especially when done before the dog is 6 months old. The results are less effective in older dogs who have made humping a habit. While hormones play a part in humping and the need to dominate, humping is also a learned behavior, so the surgery alone might not be enough to stop it. In adult dogs, you can start a retraining program after surgery, when hormones are starting to calm down and your dog might be more responsive to training. One way to train your dog is to use a spritz water bottle and simply squirt a bit of water on him when he starts humping.

Training and Socializing

The best way to stop humping behavior is to take action as soon as possible so it doesn't become a habit. For example, you can try distracting a puppy or a dog by offering a toy or a game. By reinforcing a healthier behavior instead, your dog will learn that a different reaction is more appropriate and provides better rewards. Hyperactive pets might hump to help relieve energy, so take them for longer walks or enroll them in obedience training to help them focus on something else.