A fun day at the park can quickly turn into an embarrassing one if your dog has the tendency to mount himself on others for a quick hump. The angry glares from other paw-rents are enough to make our cheeks flush!

A humping hound can sometimes be the butt (no pun intended) of all jokes within the household. Whether it’s on a stuffed toy or a family member’s leg, this behaviour can look pretty hilarious and seem relatively harmless.

However, when your pooch approaches other canines to hump, he may not always get the reaction that he’s looking for: Many canines do not appreciate the gesture and react aggressively when being touched from behind.

Why Do They Do It?  

Apart from the instinct to mate, there are other reasons why dogs exhibit this behaviour. For unsterilised pups under a year old (whether male or female) it is typically sexual in nature.

For older dogs, it can be a sign of dominance, a reaction to something that excited it (like the arrival of guests), or a result of it not knowing appropriate doggy manners, usually because it was not socialised correctly.

That said, if there are no red flags like teeth-baring, growling, and more, the humping could just be a playful action. Dr Gary Landsberg, a veterinary behaviourist in Ontario, Canada, explains that mounting is common play behaviour shown in puppies, and is even normal in the play of older dogs if it’s not taken to extremes.

“You’ll often see one dog mount another, then a few minutes later they’ll switch off and the other dog will mount the first dog,” Dr Landsberg says. “It’s a common play gesture.”

To Control This Habit  

The earlier the problem is addressed, the easier it is the nip in the bud. It is best to stop your dog’s humping behaviour when it first starts. Instead of gushing over how cute and funny your pup looks, discourage it immediately. Ignoring is as good as encouraging the behaviour, so make sure you furkid knows you disapprove of the inappropriate humping.

Try distracting Fido when it starts to hump, either by calling out to it or telling it “no” in a stern and firm tone. Offer it an alternative activity to pass its time: For instance, pass it a toy and engage it in acceptable forms of play. This will help to reinforce appropriate doggy behaviour without punishing your dog.

Typically, neutered males tend to hump less, but if your furkid was sterilised once when he reached adulthood, he may have already formed the nasty habit of humping.

Correcting any behaviour in adult dogs is harder (especially if it was learnt since puppyhood), but with the right amount of patience and training, nothing is impossible.

Good luck!

*This article was updated on 26 Oct 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 27 Jul 2016.