Why Do Some Female Dogs Hump and What Can You Do About It?

Why Do Some Female Dogs Hump and What Can You Do About It?

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Most dog owners do not know that both male and female dogs are hump-happy. It can get quite embarrassing if you have guests over and your dog starts humping them. But, it is easy to teach your dog how to behave unless she has a significant medical or behavioral problem. What are the underlying causes? Dogs usually mount other people, dogs, and objects. The reasons for this are many. Let us look at the most common ones:

  • Sexual behavior – If your dog’s humping behavior is sexually motivated, it would usually be accompanied by amorous body language, like pawing, a raised tail, and play bows. Owners need to understand that humping is a part of every dog’s play behavior. If your dog is under-socialized or poorly socialized, for that matter, she might mount other dogs excessively when solicited for play. They don’t know how to play well and get over-excited.
  • Excitement or stress – A lot of dogs hump when they are excited or tense. If your dog is stirred up by meeting another person or dog for the first time, their immediate outlet would be to mount the new person or dog or a piece of furniture that’s nearby.
  • Social dominance – Think about this from the point of view of a dog – humping another person or dog is actually a pretty good way of establishing your dominance. The prenatal masculinizing effect of testosterone, estradiol, and other androgenizing hormones can cause some of the female dogs to exhibit dominant behavior. Prenatal masculinization is common in animals that bear more than two offspring, and the males outnumber the females, leading to prenatal hormone transfer. However, it is not possible for you to ascertain whether there has been any prenatal masculinization unless you know the breeding history of the dog.
  • Compulsive behavior – If not worked upon, humping can become a compulsive disorder, especially as a response to stressful situations. Just like any other compulsive behavior, frequent mounting can interfere with the normal functioning of a dog.
  • Attention seeking – In many cases, dogs mount other dogs, people, or objects to get attention, especially if they have been deprived of attention and exercise for the day. From the point of view of a dog, getting told off for bad behavior is much better than not getting any attention at all.
  • Health problems – Certain medical conditions like incontinence, UTI, skin allergies, and priapism can cause your dog to hump or lick her affected areas.

What can you do to stop it?

If your dog humps other dogs only when she is in heat, then spaying her will put an end to that problem. Get to know her triggers well. If the act is preceded by whining, panting, or pawing, distract her by throwing her a toy or make her perform an obedience skill like sitting, shaking paws, or lying down. If the behavior becomes too unwieldy to control, consult with an animal behaviorist.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you do when your female dog tries to hump you?

It's important to understand that humping behavior in dogs is not necessarily related to sexual behavior. Dogs may hump as a form of play, dominance, or as a way to relieve stress or anxiety. However, if your female dog is trying to hump you, it's generally not appropriate behavior and should be discouraged. Samantha Hauck, who has been studying animal behavior for over 10 years, says that female dogs usually hump more due to sexual hormones than other reasons and are simply trying to masturbate. She says one way to deal with it is to exercise your dog more. Female dogs might hump more because they are bored or have too much energy. Another way to discourage humping behavior in dogs is to redirect their attention to an appropriate activity, such as playing with a toy or going for a walk. If your dog is humping you, try standing up and turning away from her or calmly saying "no" and gently pushing her away.

Why does my female dog only hump me?

There are many possible reasons why a female dog may display humping behavior toward their owner. Humping behavior can be a way for dogs to show dominance, excitement, playfulness, or even anxiety. It's also possible that your dog may be trying to get your attention, seeking affection, or trying to initiate play with you. If your dog perceives you as their primary playmate or caregiver, it may be more likely to engage in this behavior with you. Sarah Ashley, who has been writing about pets for 6 years, says that female puppies may hump you to explore things or to assert dominance over you. Female dogs may also hump if they feel anxious around you and use humping to express their distress. The behavior can also be triggered by situations like noise from a machine or even if you’re breathing too hard. However, humping behavior can also be a sign of an underlying medical or behavioral issue, such as a urinary tract infection, hormonal imbalance, or anxiety. If your dog's humping behavior is persistent or is causing you concern, it's a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to identify any potential underlying causes and develop a plan to address the behavior.

Is it OK to let my female dog hump?

Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM, says that humping is completely normal behavior and even shows that the dog is in great health and has a lot of vigor. For female dogs, humping is a normal sexual behavior driven by its hormones. She adds that female dogs can hump for reasons other than sexual satisfaction, such as playfulness or habit. If the female dog is spending time with other dogs, it might have leaned humping from another dog and trying it out for herself. While humping behavior in dogs is normal and may not be harmful in and of itself, allowing your female dog to hump people or objects may not be appropriate behavior and should be discouraged. Humping can be a sign of dominance or overexcitement, and allowing your dog to engage in this behavior can reinforce this behavior and potentially lead to other issues, such as aggression or other unwanted behaviors.

Why does my female dog hump me but not my husband?

There could be various reasons why your female dog humps you but not your husband. One possibility is that your dog may see you as the primary caregiver or playmate and, therefore, more likely to engage in humping behavior with you. Another possibility is that your dog may be responding to your body language or other cues that signal to her that you are a more appropriate target for this behavior. It's also possible that your dog has a stronger bond with you and, therefore, feels more comfortable engaging in this behavior with you than with your husband. Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP, says that dogs often hump the person that gives them the most attention and reactions. It’s an attention-seeking behavior usually directed towards the person who will respond the most. 

Do female dogs hump when they're in heat?

Yes, female dogs may hump when they are in heat, which is the period when they are fertile and able to mate. During this time, female dogs experience a surge in hormones, which can cause changes in their behavior, including increased activity, restlessness, and a greater interest in mating. Humping behavior can be a way for female dogs to show their readiness to mate and to attract potential mates. Wailani Sung, MS, PhD, DVM, DACVB, says that some female dogs try to hump objects or humans when they are in heat, and the frequency of the behavior can increase if the dog is unspayed. However, not all female dogs in heat will exhibit humping behavior, and humping is not the only sign of heat. If the female dog has been spayed, there might be other reasons for her humping, and it’s a learned behavior in most cases that will get reinforced every time she humps. 

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