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Dog Humping – Why Do Dogs Hump & What Should You Do?

Written by Assistant
Assistant is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Wednesday 3 November 2021
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
why dogs hump
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Although it is more common with males, both female and males dogs can be found humping their toys, bedding, and other dogs. It can be unpleasant to see as well as disruptive to cleaning. If you are cleaning and you see your dog humping your newly folded laundry then you might be a bit irritated. Furthermore, if a dog is humping a lot it can be a sign that something is wrong and that your dog may need a vet visit.

Through this article, you will look through the causes as well as the possible problems associated with excessive humping. So if you are interested in learning more about dog mounting, keep reading on!

What Is Dog Humping

Dog humping is the behavior of a dog that is used in mating. When a male dog mounts another dog they hold onto the dog with their front paws whilst thrusting their hips during mating. This behavior does not only occur during mating, nor with just male dogs. Any age of dog and gender can hump the air or something. Furthermore, this behavior can occur when a dog mounts clothing, bedding, toys, or even the air occasionally.

Many owners do not like to see this behavior because of its associations with dog mating and therefore classifying it as a sexual behavior. Furthermore, this behavior can be quite frustrating for an owner to see when it involves the mounting of something they own. This may be blankets, clothing, cushions, or anything your dog can get their paws on. Furthermore, if they are a male dog who has not had the snip then they may ejaculate afterward. This can be messy and ruin just cleaned materials.

Understanding the cause of why your dog is humping can allow an owner to find ways to prevent it from occurring. However, there is more than just one cause. Hormones, mood changes, and heat cycles are just a few elements that can lead to your dog humping dogs and things around them.

What Causes Dog Humping

Here are the main causes for your dog humping. Take a look to see if any of these seem like they could relate to your dog.

Sexual/Hormonal Behavior

As humping is a sexual behavior, it makes sense for it to occur due to sex hormones or situations. If a male dog is around a female dog, especially if they are not neutered, they may become more like;y to start humping behavior. Due to their strong olfactory sense, they can smell a female and this may lead to them thinking about mating. Therefore this behavior becomes a natural response. Furthermore, if a female is going through a heat cycle this strong want for mating even more become of the pheromones the female is releasing and that the male smells. Therefore, if a male dog can smell this, even if the female is far away, they may begin humping more.

Female dogs may also be influenced by their sexual hormones. Many bitches may begin to hump things during their heat cycle or if other bitches are going through their own heat cycle.

Excitement or Playfulness

When a dog becomes excited they may often experience an adrenaline release. This is due to the flight or fight response that occurs during times of strong emotional feelings, both positive and negative. When this cycle occurs, a dog’s body will physically prepare them for any drastic movements they would need to make in a flight response. It does so by increasing breathing for a higher intake of oxygen as well as redirecting blood towards the muscles for faster and stronger movement. With this response, a dog is more naturally inclined to be energetic and present a physical response due to the hormonal release because of the feeling of excitement.

This need to move can result in a lot of physical behaviors such as chewing, digging, zoomies, and in this case, humping. It is essentially a method of energy release, something for them to put their hyperactivity into.

Medical Issues 

Some health issues that may result in your dog humping regularly include painful or frequent erections, skin issues, as well as urinary tract infections. If your dog has reoccurring erections then they may feel sexual urges and therefore hump more frequently. Furthermore, they may feel pain due to erections lasting longer than they should and other concerns leading to the erection. Therefore, the humping may exist in an attempt to try to relieve any painful sensations. This is similar to UTIs as they can be quite painful and lead to pain around and in the genitals due to swelling. This is because of the infection leading to difficulty urinating as the genitalia swells among other issues.

Skin issues may also lead to an increase in humping behavior due to itching and irritation. The skin problems may be targeted just at the genitals or they may be all over the body. This irritation can lead to humping to try to itch or relocate the pain or frustration.

Response to Stress

Stress in your dog can present a multitude of behaviors as coping strategies. Common responses include heavy chewing, urinating, aggression, and hiding. As you can see the stress can be shown through a lot of behaviors. This is because different dogs will present this stress in different ways. It is often apparent due to a behavior being repetitive or very frequent that it is being used as an outlet. If your dog is humping excessively then this behavior may come out during times of stress. For example, when the hoover is turned on your dog may begin to hump their stuffed animal.

However, if the stress is constant, then the humping is more likely to occur regularly as opposed to being initiated by certain triggers. Constant stress could be caused by a new dog entering the home or a move. Whilst this stress exists, the behavior will remain more frequent.

humping because of stress
Dogs react to stress differently – this includes humping.

Social Influence

If your dog is meeting another dog then they may begin to hump the air or try to hump that dog. This can be due to excitement, a show of dominance, or even mimicking another dog. Furthermore, a dog may hump whether they are meeting a dog they know well or a stranger. Of course, it may be a sexual influence, especially if this dog is a female and you own a male dog, but this is not the only case. If your dog’s friend tries to mount them, your dog may mimic this. Some dogs are observational learners and attempt to mimic behavior to strengthen the bond between those they mimic. Others do so out of excitement.

If your dog is excited to play, this also may result in humping behavior. They may be jumping around one another and bowing to show they wish to initiate play. Whether it is due to the adrenaline release leading to your dog mounting or to the fact the other dog is bowing, your dog may try to hump the other dog.

Compulsive Behavior

Obsessive-compulsive behavior, like ELS and humping, originates due to a habit being formed, usually out of anxiety, pain, or other concerns. During this negative time, your dog will attempt to self-soothe in some manner. This can be through grooming, chewing, or in this case, humping. During an occasion where your dog humped something, they may have done so with positive emotions, such as in play. They then begin to put their anxious energy into humping during negative times. This then becomes a habit and a compulsive behavior if it is not dealt with soon.

Just be aware that stopping this behavior does not stop the cause. If your dog is anxious and using the humping as a coping mechanism, you need to help reduce and try to eliminate the cause of the anxiety alongside reducing the behavior of humping. Consulting a trained behaviorist can not only help to reduce the issue but can also help you to identify the cause.


In the same way your dog can use humping as an outlet for stress, it can also be used as an outlet for frustration. If your dog is not being given the food off your plate, or if they are not allowed to go into the room they want, they may begin to hump things. This is because the more they become frustrated, the more they hype themselves up. This can cause them to produce adrenaline and therefore have more energy they need to put somewhere. A common example is frustrated chewing that can be quite destructive.

This behavior can occur during one occasion of frustration or repeatedly in a time of frustration. If you have a new puppy, then your other dog may become frustrated at a lack of attention or sharing the spotlight. Therefore, for the first few days or weeks that your new puppy is home, your other dog may hump their toys and blankets more regularly.

Is Dog Humping A Problem

Although many disregard humping to be a normal dog behavior, whereas others may deem it to be a concern. At home with a neutered dog, it is often not an issue when a dog humps their bed. However, if your dog often humps visitors or other visiting dogs, then it can be a concern. It can be embarrassing having to always remove your dog from others due to their excitement. If you find yourself worried about this and want to stop this behavior, then do not fret. There are multiple methods you can use to help minimize the issue of your dog humping and we will be exploring them below.

How to Minimize A Dog’s Humping Behavior

Here are some of the best ways to minimize the humping behavior of your dog.

Treat the Cause

Understanding why your dog is humping more than normal is the first step to preventing it. Genuine causes that need further understanding include medical concerns and increased anxiety. Firstly, if your dog has started humping due to stress or anxiety, correcting the behavior will just mean a new repetitive behavior will form. Furthermore, it means your dog is still not feeling their usual happy selves. Try to figure out where the anxiety is coming from and the cause to understand what you need to do to change it. For example, if they do not have a schedule then try to create a structured schedule for them to make them feel more calm day to day. Furthermore, if there any signs that your dog is suffering from a health issue then they need a vet visit. Be on the lookout for irritation, bleeding, whining or anything else.

Distraction and Positive Reinforcement

When you see your dog humping something, you need to immediately distract them and reward them for doing so. One option is to teach them the word come or stop. Use positive reinforcement to do so and then whenever they begin to hump something, you can use those commands to stop them from doing so and to come to you. Bear in mind that positive reinforcement does not just have to be targeted at treats. Some dogs prefer treats or they can prefer attention which can be just as effective when training your dog. Furthermore, if your dog is overweight or on a strict diet, you may not want to use treats to train them. Just be sure to interrupt them as soon as they start humping something so they can begin to associate that stopping humping will get them a reward. This begins to minimize the behavior.


It may be that your dog is being strongly affected by not being spayed or neutered. It may be that humping behavior will not minimize until you do so with your dog. Obviously, this is not an option with current breeding dogs. However, if your dog is not being or going to be mated then you can consider this option. It also offers health benefits to do so. To find out the benefits and drawbacks of spaying or neutering your dog take a look at our links on the terms and consult your vet.

Seek Professional Help

If you are really struggling and need some tailored help, you should consider contacting a behaviorist. They are experts that can understand why the behavior is originating and how is best to help them. They are able to identify if this is anxiety-induced or relay if they suspect the cause to be hormonal. Then you are able to pursue the treatment to help ease whatever the issue is.

Getting your dog fixed can also bring many health benefits.

Dog Humping: FAQ

We have some more answers concerning dog humping just below for you to take a look.

Does my dog need to mate when they are humping excessively?

Your dog does not need to mate or need something to hump just because they are excessively humping. Take time to figure out the cause of the humping and then you can work out the proper treatment.

Why does my female dog hump?

There are multiple causes as to why female dogs hump include health problems, excitement, and mimicking behavior. Just because during mating the female does not need to hump, does not mean the behavior will not occur.

Will my dog grow out of humping things?

Some dogs do grow out of humping things and others do not. There is no guarantee that your dog will stop as they age. So it is worth training your dog from a young age to stop behavior you dislike.

Why does my dog hump after they have been spayed/neutered?

Your dog may be humping after spaying or neutering due to the cause not being hormonal. They may have a UTI, Itchy skin, or be feeling playful. Regardless, there is a way to minimize the behavior even after surgery.

Does owning two dogs increase the likelihood of humping?

This depends on their age, sex, and whether they are spayed or neutered. It can increase humping due to excitement or hormonal influences, but it is not guaranteed.

If you are concerned about your dog humping, the best solution is to first find the cause. Once you know when and what is motivating or driving this behavior, you can then pick the correct treatment. Spaying your dog if they are suffering from anxiety may make no difference. If you have concerns, contacting a behaviorist or vet can give you more insight into why your dog is humping so often.

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