What Does It Mean When A Dog Humps Your Leg?

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What's up with dog leg-humping?

Early in the work week many members of the North American labor force look forward to Wednesday – commonly referred to as "Hump Day" in some circles – with anticipation, as it marks mid-week for them.

Sadly, many other workers secretly observe weekly "Hump Day" in their homes with much less enthusiasm – their hump-happy dogs have enough jocularity to go around for everyone, no matter what day it happens to be.

As it turns out, one of the most awkward aspects of dog ownership is — you may have guessed it — the leg humping, which occurs in puppies as well as adults. Mounting actions are especially embarrassing when you have visitors in your home — eek. The good news is that mounting behavior in dogs is common and 100 percent normal. (And yes, there are _ways to stop dog humping_.)

Canine sexuality

A dog humping your leg is often a display of sexuality — essentially an outlet for dealing with strong sexual urges. Nothing much more complicated than that. Don't assume that your dog is specifically "attracted" to you or your leg, however. Remember that dogs often hump on everything from toys to table legs — anything that is easy to grab and hold. Not a lot of discretion going on there. Although humping might be especially prevalent in unneutered male dogs, it's also relatively common in fixed canines as well as female dogs in heat.

The dominance question*

For many years, it was generally thought that non-sexual mounting was a sign of one dog attempting to dominate another. However, according to research by dog behaviorist Dr. Becky Trisko, humping was not associated with aggression and submission. Instead it correlated with play and other "affiliative" actions. For example, dogs seen licking another dog's muzzle (a sign of equality and friendship) were also observed mounting the same dog. Therefore, a dog is probably not trying to dominate your leg or any other part of you.

*Dominance Theory is a widely debated topic among dog behaviorists, but we at Cuteness like to give voice to writers on both sides of the debate. For an opposing view, please see our article How Dogs Establish Hierarchy.

Playfulness and anxiety

In some situations, a dog may hump a leg as a simple display of playfulness and attention-seeking, kind of like an invitation to a "play" party. A particularly anxious dog may even mount your leg as a means of easing his stress. Dogs often do this to other canines, as well.

Energy

An excess of energy and excitement may also compel a dog to hump on a person's leg — or anything else, for that matter. Whether your dog is feeling nervous and stressed out by the loud sounds of movers carrying large furniture items out of your home or is excited by your return after a long work trip across the country, he may just respond to that feeling by mounting. A rousing game of tag or a session of tug may be just the ticket to releasing all that pent-up energy so your Poster Pup for Bad Manners doesn't end up terrorizing the entire neighborhood.

Compulsive behavior

Excessive leg humping may also be a sign of compulsion in dogs. If your dog's mounting seems obsessive and almost like second nature to him, it may be a result of a compulsive issue, similar to constant barking or licking problems. Compulsive problems may arise for a variety of different reasons, including stress, isolation, insufficient socialization and even abuse.

Why Does My Dog Do That? 20 Bizarre Dog Behaviors Explained

What's up with dog leg-humping?

Early in the work week many members of the North American labor force look forward to Wednesday – commonly referred to as "Hump Day" in some circles – with anticipation, as it marks mid-week for them.

Sadly, many other workers secretly observe weekly "Hump Day" in their homes with much less enthusiasm – their hump-happy dogs have enough jocularity to go around for everyone, no matter what day it happens to be.

As it turns out, one of the most awkward aspects of dog ownership is — you may have guessed it — the leg humping, which occurs in puppies as well as adults. Mounting actions are especially embarrassing when you have visitors in your home — eek. The good news is that mounting behavior in dogs is common and 100 percent normal. (And yes, there are _ways to stop dog humping_.)