Why Do Dogs Hump Humans?

A small black dog attempting to hump a woman's leg.

If you have ever been humped by a dog or have had your dog hump somebody else, you probably found it a humiliating experience.

There are few things that a dog can do that makes him seem less like your adorable fur child and more like an animal – humping is definitely one of them.

However, humping is a very normal behavior that your dog can overcome with training and the proper medical care.

Why do dogs hump humans? Dogs may hump people due to sexual arousal, but displays of dominance, desires to play, a need for attention, and medical issues may cause humping behavior as well. Consistent redirection training and having the dog spayed or neutered can eliminate the problem.

Whatever the reason for your dog’s humping behavior, you can determine the cause and find a solution that works well for you and your dog.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to deal with this kind of behavior forever. 

Why Do Dogs Hump?

If you have been embarrassed by your dog’s humping behavior, you will probably be happy to learn that it is very common and normal.

It may also come as a relief to you to realize that it does not necessarily have anything to do with your dog’s sexual urges. 

Whether dogs are fixed or not and regardless of gender, they may be motivated to behave in this way.

Here are a few important reasons why dogs hump.

Sexual Instincts 

This is generally the reason that most people assume is causing their dog’s behavior.

It is true that dogs will hump when they are sexually aroused. However, this is not usually the cause for dogs humping people.

Dogs may become aroused during play with other dogs, but it is more often expressed on a favorite toy or pillow.

Dominance Behavior

Old theories about dogs holding established positions of dominance within their social groups have been largely debunked within the respected dog behavior community.

However, instances of behavioral dominance are a normal part of how dogs relate to one another. 

Dogs may mount each other in the midst of play in the same way that they may bite at one another or jump on top of each other to instigate a response.

This does not mean that the behavior is inherently negative.

However, because it is perceived as a dominant signal, dogs that are intolerant of any appearance of domination may respond aggressively when they are mounted by another dog.

An Invitation to Play

Dogs may have started out humping one another or people in the midst of play, as a dominance display, or perhaps just acting out randomly as puppies do.

However, when puppies are roughly pushed away and people react strongly by squealing or yelling, they may realize that humping can get the kind of response that they’re looking for from people.

It is hard for some people to understand the tendency of dogs to act out in a way that does not receive a positive response, but this is responsible for much of the behavior we don’t like in dogs.

Dogs that jump, paw, bark, and hump may all be looking for the same thing: attention and play.

Medical Causes

In some cases, humping can be a sign of a medical issue.

Male dogs that are experiencing irritation may rub themselves in a way that looks like humping to relieve the irritation.

Dogs that lick, chew, or express pain in any other way may be more likely to be experiencing medical problems. 

If your dog has suddenly started a humping behavior later in life, it is important to have your veterinarian check him out to ensure that nothing medically is going on.

Unaltered

If your dog isn’t neutered or spayed, you will have a much harder time training him not to hump.

If your dog is of the age that your veterinarian recommends spaying or neutering for the breed, it is best to have this performed before you try to train your dog not to hump. 

Remember that it will take some time after the spay or neuter for hormone levels to go down and stop affecting your dog’s behavior.

You can certainly train an unfixed dog not to hump, but it may be significantly harder.

Which Dogs Are More Likely to Hump Humans?

Any breed of dog is equally likely to display humping behavior.

Dogs who tend to be more energetic and excitable in the first place, such as herding breeds, retrieving breeds, and terriers, may be more likely to experience this kind of behavior than other dogs.

Dogs that have not yet been spayed or neutered are more likely to hump than dogs that have been fixed.

How to Train Your Dog Not to Hump 

Once medical problems have been ruled out, you can start training against humping behavior, using the same methods regardless of the reason for the behavior.

The goal is to train your dog to redirect his behavior and perform a different behavior instead.

Since most dogs hump out of over excitement or a desire to play, the most effective way to redirect the behavior is usually to point your dog toward a play object.

Here is how to teach your dog to seek out play instead of humping you or your guests.

1.  Limit Opportunities for Humping 

As you proceed with training, it is essential that you prevent setbacks by never allowing your dog to hump without correction.

If you are having guests over, it is generally best that you crate your dog unless your guests are willing to participate in your training process.

Don’t allow your dog in areas where he will be loose and you can’t control his behavior, such as dog parks.

2.  Build Excitement For an Object of Redirection

If your dog already has a favorite toy, great; you’re ahead of the game.

If your dog doesn’t yet have a toy that he likes more than others, you can easily build excitement for any toy of your choosing. 

Smearing a bit of peanut butter on the toy will do the trick for most dogs, but many dogs will become excited for the toy by noting your excitement levels and body language.

Food distributing toys, like Kong toys, (they’re popular for good reason) work very well.

You can also take away a favorite toy and only offer it when you need it for redirection to build more excitement around it.

Regardless of whether your dog already has an affinity for a particular toy or not, it’s a good idea to re-establish their preference for a particular toy to use in training.

It’s also wise to have a variety of toys on hand, like this pack on Amazon, to maintain your dog’s interest during redirection.

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3.  Redirect When Your Dog Humps

Whenever your dog goes to hump you or a participating guest, have your redirection toy on hand to offer to your dog.

Don’t just give it to them, play with them and verbally praise them for being excited about it.  

It will require many repetitions before your dog begins to understand that you want them to take out their excitement on the toy instead of by humping, so be patient and positive.

If you are becoming frustrated or you think that your guest is done with the training, put your dog in another area until you feel ready to train again.

4.  Encourage Your Dog to Self-Redirect

Train your dog to fetch his favorite toy by placing it within view and rewarding your dog for getting it when you tell him to fetch it.

Work up the challenge by hiding it in various places around the space.  

Once your dog knows how to find the object on command, the rest is easy.

Instead of presenting your dog with the desirable toy immediately when they begin to hump you, have the toy present in the area and tell your dog to go get it for himself.

Reward your dog with treats and praise for finding the toy and bringing it to you or just for playing with it.

Tip: Train yourself to keep some small training treats, like Zuke’s Natural Training Treats, in your pocket or nearby at all times so that you are always prepared to reward good behavior.

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5.  Be Consistent

It will require a lot of training and consistency to succeed, even once your dog has learned to go and find the toy to redirect with themselves.

Failure to reward your dog sufficiently may cause your dog to relapse into humping you or your guests for attention again. 

Any opportunity to hump without being redirected will cause your dog to have a setback as well.

Consistency is key if you want to completely eliminate this behavior in your adult dog.

Last update on 2020-10-23 at 06:30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API