There are some behaviors in dogs that can seem strange, awkward, and even inexplicable. Most people assume that only un-neutered males engage in mounting, but that isn’t the case. Even fixed males and females mount other dogs, people, and even furniture. And mounting and humping can be practiced by dogs of any age, including puppies as young as six weeks old. If inviting friends or family to your house fills you with anxiety at the prospect of your dog meeting new people—and potentially mounting them—there is hope! There are ways you can understand why your dog (male or female) mounts, and ways you can keep you dog from doing it (and your guests).
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The Root of the Behavior
Female Beagles, along with any other dog breed, may practice mounting another dog. Mounting can happen for a number of different reasons. It doesn’t have to be sexual in nature at all, although it can be, but for different reasons. Mounting and humping behaviors can come at any age. Even young puppies may mount their littermates. It is believed that mounting this early among puppies is an instinctual practice behavior for later sexual contexts. When a female dog is in estrus, commonly called heat, she may mount male suitors or even other females. If humping is sexual in nature, it’s often accompanied by flirting kinds of behaviors. A raised tail, a play bow, and pawing are examples of flirtatious behavior in dogs. Both males and females can demonstrate flirting behaviors. Mounting isn’t exclusively a sexual behavior, either.
Mounting can also be a form of play. Poorly socialized dogs may mount others excessively, since they aren’t accustomed to play with other dogs and can become “overstimulated.” Dogs might also be overexcited or stressed when new visitors show up, or you go someplace new. In that case, they may mount people, dogs, or even your own belongings or furniture. Mounting is also a social, hierarchical behavior. Mounting establishes dominance among a litter, pack, or social group of dogs pretty effectively. Another theory from Dr. Peter Borchelt, an animal behaviorist in Brooklyn, New York, says that when some dogs have a litter composed of more males than females, a hormonal transfer between the puppies occurs during prenatal development. There’s no easy way to tell if this is the case, however. And, dogs can mount or hump just because it gets them attention. Especially if they don’t get adequate exercise or attention during the day, dogs may act out or exhibit behaviors that are more likely to earn a response, even if it’s a negative one.
Encouraging the Behavior
Mounting and humping might just seem embarrassing, but it may also be a dangerous behavior, especially if your dog attempts to mount a strange dog that doesn’t appreciate it, or if you have a larger dog that tries to mount one of your guests who could be more prone to injuries, such as an elderly relative or a small child. It’s important to be able to dissuade or stop your dog from humping if it becomes problematic. The first course of action should be to spay or neuter your dog if they are not already fixed. Spaying females should reduce their desire to hump other dogs. Neutering males will reduce the urge to hump if it is being triggered by a female, but it may not eliminate the behavior entirely.
The next step is being able to identify your dog’s warning signs. Pawing, panting, whining, circling, or whatever your dog does right before mounting can help you predict when they’re about to go at it again. Distracting your dog with a favorite toy when you observe this behavior can be a great way to stop it in its tracks. Lastly, reinforcing a command such as “leave it” will help provide you with a way to stop your dog when they’re about to mount something or someone you don’t want them to. If they’re mounting to get attention, make sure they get plenty of exercise every day, as well as plenty of play and attention. And isolating your dog during situations when they can be triggered to mount, such as when visitors arrive, is another effective way to curb the behavior.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Mounting can also become a compulsive behavior, especially if your dog mounts in response to stress or excitement. Some neglected or abused dogs may also engage in humping as a way of coping or getting attention. If your methods don’t seem to be helping eliminate your dog’s habit, or your dog is particularly persistent or aggressive, you should consult a vet or an experienced trainer who may have further advice on how to curb your dog’s humping habits. Aggressive humping can be one type of other dominating or aggressive behaviors that should be redirected or prevented. Lastly, if your dog has any other symptoms, such as licking or chewing at their genitals, humping might be their way of trying to deal with a urinary tract infection. You should see your vet for treatment.
In addition to being awkward and embarrassing, humping and mounting can also be dangerous for your dog, your furniture, and your family or guests. There are a multitude of reasons why dogs may mount other dogs, people, or things, but there are also plenty of ways to deter the behavior or redirect their energies into better alternatives.