Web Only Article April 1, 2019

Does Your Female Dog Hump?

Humping comes really naturally to even female dogs, but it is probably the most awkward behavior for people to witness – or be subjected to.

Usually humping is associated with male dogs, but humping is also very common amongst female dogs. Some girls will hump toys or other objects, some hump air, others hump other dogs or even people. To learn more about humping, why girls do it, and how to keep your female dog from humping, we talk with Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Chair of The Association of Professional Dog Trainers Nick Hof, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, KPA-CTP, CSAT, to answer some of your most commonly asked questions about female dogs and humping.

Why Do Female Dogs Hump?

Hof advised that dog guardians shouldn’t panic.  “Although it may be a bit embarrassing, humping is a normal dog behavior. You do not need to demonize it nor glorify it.” People get uncomfortable with dogs humping usually because they are under the impression that it is either a sexual behavior or connected to dominance. However, Hof explained that humping is usually a result of a heightened arousal state, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily sexual. He explained that when female dogs hump it may also be a stress response.

dog humping

DigitalVision Vectors/ CSA-Archive

Hof not only has professional experience with female dogs humping, but also personal experience at home: “I had two female dogs that would hump each other any time I had a guest over due to the heightened arousal level; a good outlet for them was humping one another.”

Does Spaying Stop Female Dog Mounting?

It is generally assumed that neutering a male dog will stop him from humping. That isn’t always the case - many male dogs will continue to hump post-neutering if that was a behavior they engaged in before the procedure.

When it comes to female dogs, spaying doesn’t generally have much impact on their humping behavior either. Girls who hump before spaying are likely to continue humping after spaying because it isn’t related to hormones.  “I often see female dog humping as more related to arousal state or environmental stressors, neither of which would be changed by a spaying,” explains Hof.

Hump Toys for Female Dogs

Object-mounting is a common behavior with female dogs. “When we are trying to determine if a behavior will be reinforced, we try to look at what is encouraging or maintaining that behavior. Often humping may begin based on environmental conditions or stimuli [such as guests in the house], but if that results in, for example, laughter at the dog humping, some dogs find that reinforcing and that may be encouraged.”

So, if your female dog is humping objects like pillows, toys or furniture, the more you direct attention toward her, the more she may continue the behavior. Pat Miller offers advice on how to train your dog away from mounting behavior in this Whole Dog Journal article.

If your dog’s humping doesn’t bother you, letting her use one (or any) of her dog toys as a personal mounting object is acceptable. Toys are a safe outlet for humping behavior, and if it does not offend any nearby witnesses, allowing your dog to do this without reinforcing her is unlikely to create additional behavioral problems.

What Should You Do to Stop Female Mounting Behavior?

Dog humping isn’t inherently concerning behavior. It is very natural for dogs. The only times humping is a problem are when it makes you uncomfortable and when it makes the object of the humping (a guest or another dog) uncomfortable. In those cases, Hof suggests that, “it would be best to try and redirect the dog's attention. This could be done by just attempting to interrupt the behavior or trying to redirect the dog's focus by asking for a sit or other behavior.”

Nick Hof also advises that if you know your dog is prone to humping in certain conditions like when guests come over, it’s best to take steps to prevent it by redirecting your dog before she starts the humping. It’s all about creating situations where your dog is going to be successful.

“A great option is always to focus on what you would like your dogs to do [instead of the unwanted behavior]. For example, they can't hump while also practicing a down-stay on their bed. Help show your dog what you want from them as opposed to telling them to stop,” suggests Hof.

Isn’t It Best to Prevent Dogs from Humping Altogether?

Again, there isn’t anything wrong with humping unless it makes you or the object of affection uncomfortable. If you want your dog to stop humping, then Hof suggests the best thing to do is deny her the opportunity to start.

“It is always a good idea to, at a minimum, prevent and manage behavior you don't want your dog to rehearse because otherwise they become more well-practiced.” Hof continues, “In my experience, since female dog humping tends to be more linked to arousal and stress, it is best to look at the context of the situations that the behavior presents itself in.” Knowing the situations where your dog is prone to humping means you can give her something else to do at the times when the behavior is usually triggered.

female dog humping leg

iStock / Getty Images Plus/ blamb

What if My Female Dog Humps Other Dogs?

Some female dogs hump other dogs, and this isn’t always bad. However, some dogs will react very negatively. Hof believes this comes down to a consent issue between the dogs: “If the dog or person your dog humps does not appear to be okay with the act, it's a good idea to discourage and redirect your dog's humping. If they don't seem to care and neither do you, it comes down to personal preference.”

With that in mind, many dogs do really take offense to being humped, so if you take your dog to dog parks or other meetups with dogs, it’s a good idea to watch her and ensure she doesn’t start humping other dogs - which can lead to a fight.

How to Stop A Female Dog from Humping People

Hof advises that the best thing you can do is, “Management. Management. Management.” He suggests that if your dog likes to hump and you cannot allow it, it’s a great idea to keep your dog leashed at times she’s likely to engage in humping, even in the house. “If your dog is on-leash, you have much more control over their actions,” Hof reminds us. Focus your attention on teaching and encouraging your dog to do what you want her to do instead of having to redirect or correct the humping once it has started.

If you are struggling with your female dog’s humping behavior, schedule a consultation with a positive reinforcement-based dog trainer who can support you with gaining a greater understanding of what is triggering or reinforcing the humping behavior with your dog.

Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author and Certified Trick Dog Instructor. Sassafras’ forthcoming books include, Tricks IN THE CITY: For Daring Dogs and the Humans That Love Them, Healing/Heeling, and Bedtime Stories for Rescue Dogs: William To the Rescue.

Comments (10)

Mandy humps me when I ignore her too much, maybe being gone for a while.
When I stand at the counter fixing her dinner she will hump a few times.
If I bend down, pick her up and pet her a few times; she's fine then. This is the only time she does it. to get my attention.

Posted by: Daizie59 | April 12, 2019 11:52 AM    Report this comment

I have a female basset hound that humps but she only grabs on to me or my husband leg. She's never done it to another dog or toys. We just decided to let her do it until she's done it seems to make her feel better & we don't care because it just us that sees her do it. I always considered it part of her behavior & it doesn't bother me so why stop it. It not like she does it for hours on end it usually lasts about a minute & shes done.
Ann

Posted by: Squirtsie | April 10, 2019 8:14 AM    Report this comment

My almost six-year-old Biewer Terrier who is spayed will hump the edge of a doggie bed on occasion. It usually occurs after she and another dog have played (usually with me) on the human bed, at which point, I put her down on the floor and she will directly go to the doggie bed and hump. I think she's quite happy and excited about playing with the other dog(s), hence the humping.

Posted by: LynL | April 10, 2019 6:01 AM    Report this comment

Thank you for this article. My 176 pound spayed female Mastiff, Dolly, has been a humper since she was almost a year old. About the only thing she humps now is a sofa pillow that is easy to wash and seems to be very sturdy. It's reassuring to read that this habit is harmless. She seems to hump when she is stressed as stated. Trying to make her stop seems to cause more stress....and more humping. Will give my husband a copy of this article so Dolly can hump happily ever after.

Posted by: Dolly2015 | April 9, 2019 6:08 PM    Report this comment

I have a jack Russell X poppy and she wants to hump our other bitch Lola a shih tzu. Lola hates it and gets nasty but poppy will still go for it. It is the only thing she humps. Poppy also likes to lick her but Lola doesn’t like that either. Can anyone explain what’s going on. I have had Lola 6 years and poppy 1 year, they are both nearly 7 years old.

Posted by: Dizzytoo | April 9, 2019 3:30 PM    Report this comment

My 5-pound Morkie likes to hump her favorite toy -- a MarnietheDog replica. Not sure how/whether to break it to poor Marnie the Dog. And, as the article suggests, the humping only occurs when, I suspect, my dog is rather bored and restless. So, clearly, it's my responsibility to come up with some activities to engage and distract her. (My vet did suggest that the humping would end a few weeks after she [my dog, that is] was neutered, by the way.)

Posted by: bharagan | April 9, 2019 2:26 PM    Report this comment

Other than being annoying, isn't there the possibility of a male dog penetrating a female regardless of being neutered? I don't want that to happen to my female.

Posted by: springerlover | April 9, 2019 10:39 AM    Report this comment

Periodically, we are in the company of a good friend of mine. She has a female and a male cocker spanieI. When we are in their company, my male cocker spaniel consistently tries to hump her male. This is the only time he humps anything. Thoughts? Solutions?

Posted by: JoJoMom | April 9, 2019 10:29 AM    Report this comment

Also Google the phrase "status by association". My female Chihuahua mix does this to our male golden retriever mix (only when he's laying down, otherwise she wouldn't be able to reach!). It only occurs in my presence.

Also, depending on the temperament of the dog being mounted I may allow the mount to go on and allow the mounted dog to tell off the dog that is mounting. That's the best way the mounting dog can learn (or at least be told that that is not acceptable behavior). Their timing is so much better than ours.

Posted by: dogtrainer13 | April 6, 2019 11:11 AM    Report this comment

I have a question. I have a spayed female Husky 13yrs & a neutered male Lab 9yrs. Only in the last 5 yrs the female humps the male but only outside on the deck & he for the most part lets her do it other times he's in the corner to block her from doing it. There's no growling or barking or snapping at her. He's 125lbs & she's 65lbs we've had him since a pup & she was already here when he got here. So why now she would do that & him pretty much seems resigned in the fact of letting her do it.

Posted by: Dakota37 | April 6, 2019 11:06 AM    Report this comment

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