Happy hump day?

By Josh Weiss-Roessler

You knew that your dog was excited about his new toy, but you didn’t know he was that excited.

The first time you walk in on your pooch masturbating can be a bit of a shock, especially if he’s your first dog and you’re not used to the behavior. You might feel grossed out, confused about what’s going on, worried that something is wrong, and perhaps even a little bit amused.
Whatever your reaction, there are some things that you should know about dog mounting and masturbation so that you don’t overreact (or underreact) to your humping dog.

Why it happens

First off, humping, mounting, and masturbation are completely normal behaviors in both male and female dogs. It’s something that’s in their DNA, and they do it for all kinds of reasons.

Sexual

This is the obvious one, right? Dogs masturbate and hump as a sexual behavior. But what most people don’t realize is that this is true of all dogs. It doesn’t matter if your dog is male or female, or even if they’ve been spayed or neutered. The part that usually tends to surprise dog parents is that neutered male dogs can still get erections and even ejaculate.

Social

Another way to put this is that mounting and humping are a way of exerting power and control. It’s your dog’s way of saying that she’s higher in the social hierarchy than whomever she’s humping.

Play

Sometimes dogs that become overexcited during play will mount and thrust as a response to this feeling. If this happens every once in a while, it’s perfectly normal, but dogs that do it every time they’re playing with other pups may be displaying a sign of under-socialization. In other words, plan some more doggy playdates so they can get used to the way they’re supposed to play.

Over-emotional

Dogs that are prone to excitement or stress may attempt to mount or masturbate when their feelings get out of control. When this happens, the focus of their attentions could be you, another dog, a toy, or even a dog bed.

Compulsion

If your dog becomes too used to humping as a way to relieve stress or excitement, the action can become a compulsive habit. When this goes too far, it can even start to harm their ability to function normally.

Potential medical implications

As mentioned above, most of the time dog humping is a perfectly normal behavior. However, there are medical issues to watch out for. If your pooch seems to be masturbating excessively, constantly rubbing against other objects, or licking and chewing parts of his body more frequently than normal, your best bet is to take him to the vet. Possible medical problems associated with this kind of behavior include:

Urinary tract infections
Urinary incontinence
Priapism (persistent, painful erections)
Skin allergies
When and how to correct the behavior

We’ve talked about how “normal” this behavior is, but what does that really mean? In specific terms, a dog that humps once or twice a day is displaying normal behavior that you don’t need to worry about correcting – at least not for her sake.

But if the action bothers or embarrasses you, or if you just want to know how to stop your dog from engaging in it during certain situations to avoid getting themselves into trouble, there are several things you should know.

Distraction works

Dogs display specific behaviors before mounting (pawing, rubbing, licking, panting). If you notice your dog doing this and anticipate humping, ask him to perform a trick or toss a toy for him to play with.

Spay and neuter

While it’s true that all dogs masturbate – regardless of whether or not they’re intact – spaying and neutering can reduce sexual motivation and minimize humping.

Give her a time out

If your pup humps people (potentially including you), start by pushing her off and saying no. Still not working? Close her off in a room all by herself (and without any fun toys). Leave her there for a minute or two, then release her and act like nothing happened. If the humping begins again, repeat the process.

Use his training

Chances are good that you’ve taught your dog a few minor tricks such as “Leave it” or “Sit.” If you worry that he may try to mount someone or something, ask him to do a trick that will make this difficult. “Sit” is a great one because it’s very simple, but incredibly effective.

If you try these methods and still have trouble getting your dog’s humping under control, talk to your vet about other things that you can do to help.

Were you ever embarrassed by your dog’s humping? Tell us what happened in the comments.

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