Mounting & Humping

Why is my dog doing it?

There can be a number of reasons. Usually, it's an attention-seeking behaviour you've unwittingly been reinforcing, and therefore perpetuating. It can also be an indication of inconsistency in interactions with the dog, or another behaviour issue. Occasionally, it can be caused by a medical problem.

But he's been fixed. Is he just being dominant?

Mounting is rarely sexual or dominance-related, so the idea that ‘fixing' or desexing a dog will reduce a dog's desire to mount a person is a misconception, though of course this isn't always the case.

But my dog is a girl! Why is she humping me?

Humping or mounting of owners isn't just male dog behaviour. Females can start doing it too.

My dog humps me but never my partner.

This might indicate that the interactions your partner has with your dog aren't reinforcing (positively or negatively) the undesirable behaviour. Perhaps your partner has totally ignored the mounting behaviour in the past and so the attention-seeking hasn't been rewarded with a response.

How do I get them to stop?

You have to consistently ignore the unwanted behaviour (ie. the mounting) and reward desirable behaviours (e.g. sitting quietly for a pat or treat). If you're not consistent, you're sending mixed messages that will confuse your dog and perpetuate the undesirable behaviour. Remember that if a dog desperately wants your attention, it'll take whatever it can get – even what seems to you to be punishment.

So the next time your dog tries to mount you, don't respond – just turn your back. Don't push them away or knee them, don't yell 'no' at them, don't even make eye contact. Just continue ignoring them with your back turned away.

You also need to start training your dog to sit on command. The easiest way is using food rewards. Try this:

  • Pass a dog treat up over your dog's nose. They will naturally tilt their head back and consequently place their bottom on the ground.
  • When their bottom hits the ground, give them the treat.

The idea here is to reward your dog for being calm and quiet, so also look for other times he or she deserves a rewarding pat or treat for doing the right thing.

I've tried ignoring it but my dog just gets friendlier!

As with all attention-seeking behaviours, they get worse before they get better. This is sometimes called the frustration effect – because you've changed your reaction, your dog will mount you even more, or try new behaviours, to try to get your attention back. So take heart – this initial worsening of the behaviour does indicate that what you're doing is working, and you should stick with it.

My dog humps toys, or his bed.

It may seem disagreeable to us humans, but dogs just don't see it that way. The key is to not reinforce the behaviour in any way, including by laughing and scolding, and ignoring it instead.

Why do my two dogs hump each other?

Dogs humping or mounting each other can be mating activity, or play related. If it's mating behaviour, desexing one or both dogs will decrease the behaviour. If it's attention seeking, one dog is mounting the other in the hope that the owner will tell it off – as has happened before. This telling off has become rewarding for the dog because, even if it's being punished, at least it has its owner's attention. As with any attention-seeking behaviour, use similar treatment as described above.