You're sitting down to enjoy dinner with your friends when Rex happily skips in with his stuffed toy, Ms. Bunny. Everyone releases a collective "awwww" at this adorable sight—until Rex proceeds to mount and openly "violate" Ms. Bunny! Whether this embarrasses you or gives you a good laugh, Rex's relationship with his stuffed pal is perfectly normal and no cause for concern.
The most obvious reason Rex humps his hapless toys is because he's "in the mood." You may prefer not to think about it, but it's perfectly natural for him to get sexually excited -- even if he's been neutered, in many cases. While a dog who hasn't been fixed is more likely to hump, your fixed friend won't necessarily stop feeling frisky just because he had the big snip, though some do. Both male and female dogs hump. In most cases humping is harmless, but it can become a compulsive behavior. Keep an eye on how often Rex humps. If he's doing it all the time to the point that it interferes with his daily life, he should visit his vet or a certified dog trainer. Frequent humping could also be a sign of some diseases, like a urinary tract infection. If he's recently begun the behavior, take him to the vet.
Rex may hump for nonsexual reasons as well. If he's feeling really excited, he may hump the nearest thing he can find. While this may appear sexual in nature, it's just a way for Rex to get out some excitement. It's likely to happen when he's in a situation that provides a lot of stimulation, like at a dog park or when he's playing with his pal. If Rex humps his buddy, he's not necessarily coming onto him; he may just honestly be excited to see him.
If Rex is feeling anxious, he may start humping away on his favorite stuffed animal. Just as when he's feeling excited, he may find an outlet for his anxiety by humping. This could entail risk if he humps something other than an inanimate object -- for instance, another dog who doesn't appreciate the attention and responds with aggression. Don't let Max get too close to an unknown pooch who could attack if Rex gets too friendly. Warn visitors that Rex may hump things or latch onto their legs. If a stressful situation, like visiting the vet, triggers the behavior, try desensitizing him: Have him visit the vet frequently just to say hello and perhaps get a treat. Soon, he'll associate his former fear with happy thoughts and be less likely to hump during the circumstances at hand.
Boredom and loneliness can trigger your dog to start humping one of his toys to get your attention. He may remember how quick you were to respond the last time he violated Ms. Bunny and thinks it's a good way to get you to pay attention to him. If you find the behavior undesirable, all you need to do is get up and walk away, showing him no attention at all. Giving him attention, be it loving or scolding, to stop his humping will actually reinforce the behavior. Make sure to find time every day to give your buddy some stimulating time with you so he doesn't feel the need to beg for attention via humping.
By Melissa Schindler
Bark Magazine: H*mping: Why Do They Do It?
Quick and Dirty Tips: What to Do About Your Humping Dog
VetStreet: Why Does My Neutered Dog...Still Try to Hump Things?
ASPCA: Humping and Masturbation
About the Author
Melissa Schindler has been writing professionally since 2010. She writes about pets, animals, technology and parenting for various websites. Also a fiction writer, she is author of "Houston After Dark." She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas State University.