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.
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.
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.