Features March 2015 Issue

Is Your Dog a Frequent Humping Victim?

If you are afraid to take your dog to the dog park because he is routinely singled out for mounting practice, read on!

You may have noticed that occasionally a dog comes along who seems to have a “hump me” sign on his back. Particularly obvious at dog parks, where multiple dogs are free to engage unrestrained in assorted behaviors at will, this poor dog is approached time and again by various dogs who are intent on a round of mounting fun. You might also see it in dog training classes where supervised free-play is allowed, and at poorly run doggie daycare centers. What is it about these victim dogs that attracts other dogs to them? And if you happen to own one, what do you do to protect your dog from the unwelcome advances of other dogs?

dog getting gang humped

This neutered Mastiff adolescent was singled out as a humping target by two neutered male dogs at the dog park. He didnít get scared or upset, probably because he was too big to get knocked over or pinned down, but many other young dogs would have been intimidated or defensive.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of solid scientific information about why certain dogs are particularly selected as mountees, so we are left with a couple of theories. Perhaps there is something about a victim dog’s behavior that arouses other dogs and encourages mounting.

Is your victim dog particularly appeasing toward and docile in response to the social advances of other dogs? If so, you might try confidence-building exercises with your dog to teach him new body-language skills around other dogs. (See “Building Your Dog's Confidence,” WDJ September 2011.) Teach your dog operant behaviors that mimic more assertive body language (lift your head up, stand tall) and cue those behaviors when a dog approaches him with mounting intent.

Is it possible that your dog gives off a scent that is arousing to other dogs? Next time he’s bathed, try a different kind of shampoo and see if that reduces the frequency of these encounters. Or try giving him a bath before your next off-leash dog encounter and see if that makes a difference.

Know Your Dog; Protect Your Dog

Regardless of the cause, your job is to always protect your dog. If he stands calmly and stoically while other dogs are inappropriate with him, you might just let him handle it. If, however, you see any signs that he is disturbed by the other dogs’ attentions, you must take action. You can ask other dog owners to remove their dogs (and suggest they read the accompanying article!), but ultimately it’s incumbent upon you to remove your dog from harm’s way – and sooner rather than later, before your dog decides to aggressively protect himself or becomes traumatized by being singled out for this unwanted attention.

Remember, your dog doesn’t have to go to the dog park and he doesn’t have to participate in class play. If he does have to go to daycare, be sure he attends one that will look out for him and match him with appropriate playmates. You can also invite friends with compatible dogs (those who don’t mount other dogs) over to your own backyard for playdates.

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