In un-neutered and un-spayed dogs under a year old, humping is usually sexual in nature. But in older dogs it can be a sign of dominance, a reaction to something that has excited the dog, like visitors arriving, or a sign that a dog hasn’t been socialized correctly and doesn’t know appropriate canine behavior.

While mounting is best known for its role in reproduction, it also occurs in many other contexts and emotional states. Dogs mount when they’re excited and aroused and even when they’re stressed and anxious… Mounting could also be what ethologists call a displacement behavior, meaning that it’s a byproduct of conflicted emotions. For some dogs a new visitor to the house could elicit a mixture of excitement and stress that could make for a humping dog. 

It’s done by males and females: “It’s a play behavior that dogs do because no one has told them it’s not acceptable.  It can become enjoyable or a normal part of the dog’s day, so it keeps doing it. It’s the same as jumping up or barking at the door.”

  1. Distract your dog. According to the ASPCA, "Some dogs display amorous-looking behavior before mounting, so if your dog sidles up to something or someone and starts to pant, lick, whine, paw or rub against the person, dog or object, he may soon start to mount or hump." If your dog shows any of these signs or begins to mount, distract her by giving her a toy or a chewie. If she has previously learned obedience skills such as "sit" or "shake," ask her to perform one of those tasks.
  2. Change your position. The ASPCA notes, "If your dog has developed a habit of mounting you or other people, discourage him from humping by pushing him off, turning away, sitting down or somehow adopting a position that prevents him from mounting."
  3. Give her a timeout. If your dog won't stop humping after you have changed your position, it may be beneficial to tell her "No" and immediately give her a short timeout. The ASPCA recommends taking her to a quiet room with no toys. Keep her there for one to three minutes. When you let her out, act like the incident never happened. If she tries to hump again, repeat the timeout.
  4. Perform preventive training. Train your dog to do something instead of humping, such as sit, which she can't do while humping. The ASPCA recommends praising her good behavior with a treat. After your dog has performed some polite behaviors and calmed down, offer her playtime with her favorite toy. The ASPCA adds, "This may alter your dog's motivational state so that he's no longer interested in humping." If your dog humps from excitement as a result of people hugging, arguing, greeting, etc., ask your dog to stay during these activities, so her humping behavior is not triggered.
  5. Avoid stressful situations. If your dog only seems to hump when she is stressed, try to avoid those situations. For example, if your dog is stressed when you yell, always talk quietly and calmly when she's around. 

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