Puppy Humping
Puppy Humping

When you first witness your dog humping, it can be rather amusing. Eventually, however, your dog’s humping can become a source of embarrassment and frustration. To some extent, humping is a natural biological process, but if your dog is continuing to hump after being neutered or spayed, there may be other issues at play.

Why Do Dogs Hump?

Why is it that certain puppies hump when they’re young, others begin as adolescents after they’ve been fixed, and late bloomers discover humping in their golden years? The most obvious answer is for sexual stimulation. Intact male dogs may hump as a result of hormonal impulses or pleasure-seeking stimulation, but more often than not, humping is related to non-sexual arousal.

Although many view humping as an explicitly sexual act, it can also be used as a way to show power or rank. Dogs, whether as puppies or adults, often use humping as a way to assert their authority over others; be it other dogs, other animals, humans, or objects.

Here are some of the main reasons why dogs hump:

Out of Habit

Research has suggested that even after a dog has been spayed or neutered, the memory of past sexual acts can leave a lasting impression. It’s for this reason that even after your puppy has been neutered or spayed, they may continue to hump for a few months after the surgery. In fact, some pets can develop this habit and then continue to hump for years. It can even develop into a chronic habit that becomes harder to curb each year that it continues.

Exerting Dominance

Humping is a way for both dominant and non-dominant dogs to exert control over other animals. Veterinary experts hypothesize that some nondominant pups with dreams of being the alpha can achieve an intrinsic reward from humping, in that it feels natural for them to get a “high” from asserting their dominance. It’s not just male dogs that hump as a means of exerting dominance; females can also use this habit as a way of being an alpha. Intact females have a higher level of testosterone in their bloodstream than their spayed counterparts, making these dogs more likely to perform sexual behaviors.

Increased Serotonin Levels

This “high” can be a result of increased levels of serotonin, a chemical largely responsible for regulating mood, behavior, sexual desire, and social behavior in a dog’s brain. If your pup is feeling stifled, they may start humping as a way to balance themselves out. This can be common in pets who don’t exercise enough or who have limited social interaction.

How to Stop Your Dog From Humping

Regardless of the age or gender of your dog, there are steps you can take to halt their humping habit. The most common way to stop humping is to have your dog neutered or spayed. Typically, puppies will be neutered around six months of age. As mentioned above, however, neutering and spaying don’t always solve the problem. It can take a dog some time to discover that the act of humping simply isn’t the same after their surgery.

If your dog has been spayed or neutered and is still humping regularly, the primary way to achieve behavior modification is through dog or puppy training. Most training programs aim to get your dog to work for what they want while installing you as the leader of your household. There are 12 general rules for training dogs, but the basic premise is that the experience should always be rewarding and positive for both you and your pet.

Each dog is different, and sadly there’s no “perfect” way to train a dog. Should you want to bring in an expert to help with puppy training or dog training, talk with your friends, veterinarian, and family members to solicit reviews of local trainers. If you choose to sign up for a group training class, don’t be afraid to ask to sit in on a session before committing, or walking away from a class that doesn’t meet your needs.

The Power of Puppy Training

We know that it can be awkward when your pet performs this somewhat unsightly type of behavior, but there are a lot of factors at work when a dog starts humping. The first step is figuring out why your pet is humping before you can start treating the issue with lifestyle adjustments, spaying or neutering, training, or medication. Whether the underlying reason for your pup’s humps is aggression towards other males, stress or overstimulation, or simply attempts to communicate with another dog, puppy training is an available solution to help curb the problem.