Is It a Sex Drive that Causes Dogs to Hump Things?

Why do some neutered male and spayed female dogs try to hump other dogs, toys and even humans?

Is it an unusual sex drive, a hormone deficiency or an over abundance of testosterone?

This is a question that has been puzzling me for some time as I have been in the company of small dogs that seem to have an incessant need to hump certain toys on a constant basis.

In trying to research this subject, I found very little concrete information as to why some dogs do this and others do not.

The only physical reason I could find was that there is a possibility that the dog is suffering from a condition in the genital area that is causing itching or is irritated. Of course, if that is the problem, the constant rubbing of the area on a toy, other dog or even a person just creates more irritation.

The thing to do here, is examine the genital area and if you see irritation, call your vet as he/she can prescribe medication to cure the problem, before it gets to be a habit,

The other possibility is that when the dog tried it once, for whatever reason, it felt good and since no one stopped the behavior, it ultimately became a habit too hard to break. But watching a dog perform its gyrations in front of small children or elderly adults seems to be a bit inappropriate.

Adolescent dogs have a great deal of testosterone, even the neutered ones and a visit to a dog park with all the wonderful smells that abound there, can get even the most calm dog excited.

Since conversation, holding hands or just plain lusting is not a dog’s way of handling its hormones, humping becomes a natural thing to do.

The problem with this “natural behavior” is humping in many cases is a show of dominance, a feeling of power and while I realize that, that can be a nice feeling, a dog can get carried away with it and force another dog into submission.

Forcing another dog into submission can have a profound effect on its personality. Dogs are social creatures and like their human counterparts need to feel good about themselves and their world.

A dog forced into submission by another dog in the Dog Park or anywhere else can easily become afraid of other dogs or suddenly change its personality and become the aggressor.

Socializing your puppy with dogs of both sexes can help orient your dog to sexual behavior that is attracted to the opposite sex; and not to same sex dogs, pillows, toys or humans.

Puppies in play and some adult dogs in play do hump each other.

It may be a show of dominance at that moment, but usually it is done as a part of whatever game they are playing.

What can you do if this mannerism has become a habit that is not only embarrassing to you, but could create an irritation for the dog?

Distraction is the “key word.” It matters not whether your dog is neutered or not. Dogs that are intact do not need to hump everything they see either.

If you are at the Dog Park and your dog is the main target for the day, a good way to stop the encounter is to train your dog to sit on cue. A sitting dog is not an acceptable target. This works for both males and females.

Female dogs learned this on their own, when they did not want to be bothered by adoring males.

If it is your dog that has discovered that humping is fun and you are not seeing the joy in it, your job is to become the distracter.

This will take patience on your part and time, especially since most of us are not on call for our dogs 24/7.

Removing the larger toys that can be humped will help, along with pillows and any other soft objects that appear to be attractive to your dog.

When you are home being watchful of your dog’s actions is the first prerequisite. Whenever your dog starts the action, distract it with a treat, a toy or a walk.

The humping is a habit and habits can be broken, after a few days of being distracted, the habit should become less and less noticeable and eventually will fade away.

Patience and determination are the prime requirements on your part, with distraction being the key element.

Good Luck.

Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.