Is dog mounting a sign of dominance? How to stop a dog from humping

When a dog suddenly starts humping the legs of your guests or another dog at the park, no one will blame you for getting a little embarrassed. But what's got your dog all riled up, and how can you stop it from ramming your friends?

Dogs that hump too regularly can cause great embarrassment for their owners.
Dogs that hump too regularly can cause great embarrassment for their owners.  © 123Rf / Anna Koldunova

Whether your dog is busy rubbing up against its favorite stuffed toy, a dog at the dog park, a bright pink pillow, or the leg of your best friend, when the canine kind are grabbed by desire – nothing and no one can stop them.

Why a dog mounts a particular person, animal, or object is not such an easy question to answer, though. It can happen at inappropriate moments and is a habit shared by both male and female dogs. Once thing you should note, though, is that while it's unpleasant, a dog mounting or humping your leg is not a cause for concern.

In this Dog Guide, TAG24 is here to help you understand why a dog mounts, whether it's a sign of dominance, and what you can do about it.

Why does my dog keep jumping up and mounting me?

There are tons of different reasons for a dog to mount a person, animal, or object. They range from the sexual, to the hierarchical, to the downright hilarious – but there is no universal cause. An individual dog has its own motives, reasons, moods, and behaviors.

As a result, we have compiled a list of possible reasons for dogs to jump up and mount something.

Is dog mounting a sign of dominance?

It is rare for dogs to mount their canine companions or owners as a sign of dominance, but not impossible. A situation in which this might occur would be if an owner brought home a new dog or friend. Their pooch may try to hump the newcomers leg, but it is quite rare.

Generally, dogs will grow out of humping others for dominance via good socialization. A dog needs to interact with other animals regularly, learn to play, and need to be treated with respect. If a dog has a history of physical or emotional abuse, it may seek to gain the "upper hand" by proving its dominance via humping or mounting.

Normal house dogs will rarely hump to show their dominance. In fact, they will usually consider their human the head of the pack and will be subservient to them. Remember: training and socializing your dog is key. If you do this, you likely won't have a problem.

Dogs hump in a game

Puppies and young dogs will often hump when they play with each other. This behavior is completely normal, because young dogs discover and exercise all kinds of different urges during their development. If a puppy is havin' a little bit too much fun, though, feel free to intervene.

That being said, if this behavior is relatively rare and all dogs involved have been neutered, then there is not necessarily a reason to stop them.

Puppies and young dogs sometimes mount each other during play.
Puppies and young dogs sometimes mount each other during play.  © 123RF / Streborn

Dogs mount because of insecurity

If a dog finds itself in an unfamiliar situation, they may become emotionally unsettled. Not knowing how to react to this insecurity, your four-legged friend may start jumping up in inappropriate ways.

If an unknown person comes to visit, for example, your dog may feel joy and curiosity, but also fear or insecurity. These feelings are hard to process for a dog, so it will choose to cope with them in ways that may seem strange to us humans. In other words, your dog may start jumping up or humping the unknown person.

Interestingly, roughhousing or mounting is a way for a dog to skip through its conflicting feelings and find resolution.

Dogs hump out of excitement, stress, or fear

Negative experiences and stressful emotions can also lead to over-excitement in dogs. If your pooch is feeling afraid or frightened then it will lash out. This can often come in the form of excessive humping, mounting, or jumping. Similar reasons for this include if a dog has no structure in its daily routine, if it has been mistreated, or is exposed to a lot of stressful or hectic activity.

Dogs will mount when provoked by emotional pressure and negative feelings like fear and stress. They will take this out on not only people and animals but also pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals.

If dogs are fearful or insecure, the may ram their owners or dog-friends.
If dogs are fearful or insecure, the may ram their owners or dog-friends.  © Unsplash / Maria Steenberg Nielsen

Dogs get joyful and hump for fun

Sometimes dogs get absolutely ecstatic. I mean, don't we all? It is rather unusual, but sometimes this happiness can lead to humping. That's right, folks, dogs sometimes hump for fun. If a dog has just eaten, has experienced something nice, or is having a lovely time, they will want to share that happiness with someone or something.

If a dog is overly stimulated in a positive way, it may hump objects or people to express and process those positive emotions.

Dogs mount because of boredom or imbalance

Dogs need to be challenged, both physically and mentally. If you don't spend much time with your pooch, if you don't give it what it needs to be physically and mentally balanced then the boredom will lead to some rather unsavory consequences.

If a dog mounts its owner it could be simply trying to get their attention. It may be under-challenged or bored, and this may lead to ramming, humping and jumping up on people regularly.

Neglected dogs might seek attention by mounting their humans.
Neglected dogs might seek attention by mounting their humans.  © 123RF / Grase

Dogs mount of sexual excitement

Humping and mounting come from a dog's sexual drive, whether it has been neutered or not. Hormones don't only run rampant in teenagers – they are also present in dogs. Male dogs will often ram during puberty, and females when in heat.

They will ram objects, people, and other animals to stimulate themselves sexually. This is completely normal and is a way for both male and female dogs to relieve hormonal congestion.

Health problems can cause a dog to mount more often

It is not unusual for dogs to mount people and things, nor is it unusual for them to do it relatively often. Sometimes, though, it can get rather excessive and may seem almost compulsive When this happens, it is a sign of a dog that you should definitely take to the vet.

If dogs have pain in the abdominal area, then the movement of the hip generated through mounting might be giving them relief. The same can be said for other issues such as urinary tract diseases or autoimmune diseases. Excessive humping can also be caused by stereotypy, a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

No matter what the issue is, your dog should be taken to the vet if its behavior becomes out of the ordinary. If there is a suspicion that your dog's humping is getting pathological, then the veterinarian clinic is the place to be.

When to stop a dog from humping

It is okay for your dog to hump sometimes. That's just the natural way of things, most mammals like to hump after all. Sometimes it can be a bit extreme, can make a person or animal uncomfortable, or can just be downright weird. In these cases, it's time to know when to make them stop.

The first thing you should do before stopping them is to figure out the reason for this behavior. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does the dog do before and after humping?
  • Who or what does it hump?
  • How often does your dog hump?

If your dog is mainly riding objects or people then it is not likely to be a sexual behavior. Instead, your dog is likely humping to relieve stress or anxiety during an emotionally difficult situation. Alternatively, if their behavior is compulsive, or mainly directed towards other dogs, it could be sexual.

In the case of a dog's behavior becoming uncomfortable, dangerous, disturbing, or triggering, you should make sure to stop the dog. If it is more often than usual, take it to a vet as soon as possible.

Will my dog stop mounting after neutering?

A dog will still hump and mount other dogs, objects, and people – even if it has been neutered. It is a natural process brought on by your dog's hormonal response and as a result will not be lost if your dog is no longer able to have babies.

However, this can also be a benefit, as it greatly reduces the risk of you having to deal with a litter of puppies because your dog got a little too excited during a walk in the park.

How to stop a dog from humping

A dog owner should intervene if their pooch starts ramming other animals.
A dog owner should intervene if their pooch starts ramming other animals.  © 123rf / Ximagination

Depending on the cause of your dog's humping, owners can react in different ways. Here are a few tips for training your dog to not hump, for getting your dog to chill out, and to generally alleviate the situation...

1.) Never abuse, yell at or punish your dog.

2.) Remember to positively reinforce the desired behavior and to ignore or calmly but firmly stop your dog from mounting.

Dog teams up with cat sibling in viral sweet treat heist
Dogs Dog teams up with cat sibling in viral sweet treat heist

3.) Dogs will generally remain relaxed if their owners are relaxed. As a result, always stay calm when you are with the dog and the unexpected happens. It isn't worth the trouble.

4.) Similarly, use familiar commands to get your dog to do things when it encounters a stranger or another dog. Tell your dog to "Stay" in its sleeping spot when visitors are around, to make sure that it doesn't get in the way and start humping your guests.

5.) In this case your pet is trying to hump another dog, make sure to "heel" your dog and keep them as calm and relaxed as possible. Once the other dog has left, then you can "un-heel" your pooch and move on with your day.

6.) Make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise and the opportunity to interact with people and other animals. This way your fluffy friend won't have pent-up anxiety or behavior that will need to be let out in certain situations.

Ultimately, though, it is best to simply make sure that you have your dog neutered and you make it clear that this is not a behavior that you appreciate. This way your dog can't impregnate another dog, and will mount and hump a whole lot less.

Do dogs masturbate? Conclusion

Masturbation is a completely normal behavior in dogs, and not something that you or anyone else should be worried about. When a dog humps or mounts a person, animal, or object, there is usually no danger posed. However, if a dog does it too often, to smaller animals, or violently, it should be stopped.

If in doubt about whether your dog's masturbation habits are safe and healthy, you should make sure to take it to the veterinarian for advice. Professional dog training may be needed to help resolve any behavioral problems your dog may have.

Cover photo: 123Rf / Anna Koldunova

More on Dog Guide: