Ask the AKC Animal Behaviorist: Help! My Dog Won't Stop Humping

More on PawNation: dog behavior, dog humping, dog training, DogBehavior, DogHumping, DogTraining

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Meet Mary Burch, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Director and Paw Nation's new expert columnist addressing your questions on animal behavior. Dr. Burch has over 25 years of experience working with dogs and she is one of less than 50 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists based in the United States. She is the author of ten books including the new official book on the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, "Citizen Canine: 10 Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know."



I have a very sweet, 2-year-old, neutered mixed-breed named Joey. The problem is that he has one behavior that is not so good. He likes to hump other dogs--and people. It is so embarrassing. At the dog park, he starts trying to hump smaller dogs and I have to pull him off. When we are home, he will hump the legs of our guests or of a pillow on the couch. He doesn't try to hump me or my husband. I tell Joey "No!" in a firm voice and push him off the sofa or pull him away from my friends, but I just don't know how to make him stop!

If there is one canine behavioral issue that is guaranteed to result in an embarrassed owner, it is when a dog attempts to hump other dogs, people, or objects. While some humping behavior can be sexual in nature, usually humping has nothing to do with sex. When it comes to the desire to breed, believe me, you can't fool a male dog with a human leg or couch pillow.

Most of the time, humping is related to establishing dominance and letting another dog or human visitor know who's in charge. When a pillow or stuffed animal are the objects of your dog's affections, there's a good chance the dog has simply gotten excited and over-stimulated. Rowdy play can cause some dogs to get out of control.

The "treatment" for humping is breaking up the chain of behavior such as redirecting the dog to another activity or focusing on training. To redirect your dog, you can provide some chew toys, throw a ball and have the dog "fetch," or go outside for exercise. If there is a particular stuffed toy that the dog plays with inappropriately, remove the toy from the environment until your dog's behavior is better managed.

Teaching your dog some basic obedience commands such as "sit," "down," and "stay" will provide you with very valuable management tools. Training is an important part of dealing with humping, because remember, humping is often about your pup showing that he is the "top dog," and training gives you the opportunity to be in charge. For training tips consider looking taking a dog training class or even looking at the AKC's book: "Citizen Canine: 10 Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know."

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