Wednesday's WTFact: Why Does My Dog Hump Other Dogs (A Valentine's Day Special)
Happy Valentine's Day!
"My dog tries to hump other dogs, sometimes people.....does that mean what I think it means? I mean, what does that mean?"
Most of the time dogs hump each other as a display of dominance, even girl dogs! As much as I like to advocate for the side of feminism and girl power, it's a good idea to not allow this type of behavior to continue, regardless of their gender.
Humping Other Dogs
You've heard people talking (or, eh hem, whispering) about 'pack behavior' a thousand times. In fact, I don't even like using that term anymore because it is so over saturated in the training world! However, with that being said, there is a lot about our domesticated dog's daily life that comes from their wilder heritage. Establishing dominance within a social construct is something that is done universally with any communal species of mammals. Chimps, elephants, lions, wolves, even dogs need to find a way to have order within the family and social group to be productive and make decisions that could potentially affect their survival. So where does the humping part come in? Weeellll, lets just say it is a very effective way of testing where you stand within the group. If another dog lets you do it, without putting up a fight, you have won the game. If they do put up a fight, then the dominance is tested and who ever wins becomes the new boss. How intense that battle becomes depends on the individual personalities of the dogs. SO with that being said, I strongly encourage YOU the person to always come across as the most dominant (leader, alpha, decision maker, person in charge), therefore, you need to be the one to stop the behavior before it escalates. It can prevent dog fights as well as give your dog some comfort that you have the situation handled and don't need them to feel like they have to establish their place in the world.
Humping Legs (Or Where Ever They Can Get a Hold Of)
The mindset is usually the same, it is a dominant behavior that I never allow (unless we are training them to do it on purpose for a movie or TV show! Which definitely has had unfortunate repercussions on more than one occasion.) This is usually a sign that there needs to be a shift in power within the household. In fact some dogs can show signs of anxiety with this dominant behavior because they feel the pressure to be the alpha dog when there is a lack of structure and consistency coming from the current alpha (that should be you!)
Sometimes it can just be fun. Once they have done it, and well, it feels good, so they want to keep doing it, because... why not. However it is rarely seen in dogs that don't also struggle with dominance imbalances within their family unit. This behavior can easily escalate into other much more serious behavior problems so although funny to watch, it does need addressing rather quickly.
Humping Pillows, Toys, or Other Common Household Items
This is not as straight forward as humping people or other dogs. Sometimes it is boredom, sometimes it can actually be displaced anxiety. In a way they are taking their frustrations out on your poor couch cushions. It can also mean boredom and/or dominance as well, but if it is not paired with humping other animals, it is usually not as serious. I generally don't recommend allowing this behavior at all, but this is definitely the least offensive... for everyone involved!
Regardless of the gender, the same rules still apply. Proceed with caution, and remember to keep your dogs safe out there. Always spay and neuter your pets.
To learn other tricks, tips or if you have any questions please visit our website at www.dogtrainingredefined.com or email Andrea at Andrea@theanimaldept.com