Training Thursday: Let’s Talk About Humping!

Many of us have been in a somewhat awkward situation where our dog has mounted another dog, a person or a random inanimate object and we’re not really sure what to do.

Humping

A few years ago, I was out walking with my RottyX and started chatting to an older lady with a very cute Jack Russell. I wasn’t the only one who thought the JR was cute. I’ll spare you the details but an awkward few moments ensued and I learnt exactly how difficult it is to move a large breed dog who is quite happy where he is!

We don’t really talk about why dogs do this. After all, we’re British.

So, brace yourself. I’m going to talk about humping!

Let’s get the obvious reason out of the way first. Sex. It’s a pleasurable experience for the hounds. I think that one of the reasons we, as guardians, don’t like to acknowledge that is because we see our dogs as our family. Many people call them their ‘babies’ or list them alongside their children… but they’re dogs, with their own instincts and responses that they will naturally explore.

If your dog is humping and you think it’s excessive, there could be something else going on. The first thing to do is make an appointment with your vet. You know your dog, so if the behaviour is compulsive or they’re also licking themselves a lot, get yourselves to the vet. They’re more than used to these conversations, so while you might feel a little uncomfortable, they won’t even flinch!

Sometimes, it can be that your dog is excited or anxious. In these states, they’re just responding to the chemical reaction that’s going on in their brain. When dogs play together, it can happen as the play becomes more intense. They also replicate other natural behaviours when they’re playing, such as biting, fighting and chasing. It’s all cool, remember, they don’t have our social norms and haven’t read the rules of being British! With anxiety related humping, it’s a little bit like having a nervous habit. I bite my nails when I’m nervous (or bored!), and it’s a similar response!

I mentioned boredom. As we all know, when we’re bored, we can develop bad habits. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise or isn’t working their brain, they will occupy themselves and find ways to burn off their energy. If that also brings attention, they’ll learn it’s a great way to engage with you! So, be warned! Check out our blog on canine employment here!

So, what do you do about it if your dog is humping and you’ve ruled out medical issues? Your vet will talk with you about spaying and neutering and will also tell you that it’s not a ‘quick fix’ if your dog is humping! You need to understand and recognise the triggers for the behaviour so that you can teach your dog alternative responses. For example, teaching them that calm behaviours bring the desired rewards. Teaching them cues will enable you to communicate what you would like them to do. If they get overexcited, you can then ask them to sit or lie down. They can chillax and then play resumes when they’re calm. You can find instructions to teach a ‘chillax’ cue here. Ask yourself (and be honest), is your dog getting enough mental and physical stimulation. If not, create a new routine and enjoy some time teaching your dog something new, going for walks that involve lots of new scents and adventures… there are hundreds of ways to engage your dog.

I will stop talking about humping now! Get the kettle on and allow the Britishness to return.

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