Dogs hump for many reasons: excitement, dominance, play, and yes, sex. Chances are you know a hump-happy dog. Maybe it’s the mutt mounting your dog at the park, or your hound humping your leg when you get home from work. But why is it so common?
When your dog is fixed—or your female dog insists on mounting the couch—you may find yourself wondering, “But really—why do dogs hump so much?”
We’ve got answers to everything you want to know, but were afraid to ask.
Why do dogs hump?
When I was a kid, my pug would frequently hump the cat, resulting in the family joke, “we’re breeding dats and cogs.” Let’s admit it: Dog sexuality is a giggle-worthy topic that can embarrass us humans, but it’s a natural, normal behavior for dogs. Here are some common questions we’ve encountered:
Does dog humping = sex?
Humping isn’t always a sexual act, but it is the primary reproductive activity for dogs, who only “do it” in their eponymous style. If you’ve witnessed humping, you get the basics: When a female dog is in heat, she presents herself to a male. The male mounts her and voila, puppies arrive 56-66 days later.
Wait, wait, wait…what does “in heat” mean?
When a dog is “in heat,” it basically means she’s ready to get it on. An intact female dog will typically have two heats each year, during which time her ovaries release eggs to be fertilized, and she becomes receptive to mating with a male dog. The ASPCA has even more information, if you’re curious.
What’s the difference between humping and, well, you know?
Got it: Humping can occur without penetration. One major difference between behavioral humping and reproduction is “tying,” also called knotting, which occurs when a gland at the base of the male dog’s penis swells to “tie in” to the female.
Whoa there. Got any more fun facts?
You know it. Here’s a good one: Dogs are polygamous breeders, meaning females will “tie the knot” with more than one male during a heat cycle. Multiple doggy partners + multiple eggs to be fertilized can sometimes = littermates with different dog fathers. That’s right: there can me multiple fathers in a single litter. This explains why the mutt your family got from the neighbors looks like a spaniel, but her brother down the street is more of a lab.
So is humping always sexual?
Nope! In fact, humping is often a way for your dog to deal with more general excitement or stress. Some get the “zoomies” and race around the house, and others get the “humpies” and take their excitement out on a pillow (my own dog’s partner of choice).
Humping is play behavior, too. As they grow and develop, puppies play-hump as a “preview” of reproductive activity. Adult dogs base their play on practical behaviors, so humping, rooted in reproduction, it is also done for sport. This is also why you’ll see your dog “play chase,” a hunting move, with other dogs at the park.
Okay—but why is my dog humping me?
Any of the above examples are possibilities. He might be excited to see you and need a way to show it. He might be trying to engage you in his kind of play. And yes, it’s possible he’s humping you because it just feels good.
Must you? —Flickr/Malingering
When my dog starts humping, should I put a stop to it?
Dogs feel no shame about getting their hump on, so scolding is rarely the answer. But if the humping happens at inopportune times, you can redirect to another behavior. If your dog seems to hump compulsively, you can speak to a trainer about counter-conditioning. And if your dog is in a hump frenzy and hasn’t been fixed, it’s time to make a spay/neuter appointment to prevent unwanted litters and reduce unwanted humping.
If your dog only humps once in a while, and the humping isn’t hurting anyone, there’s no reason to intervene. To paraphrase George Michael: Humping is natural. Humping is good. Not every dog does it, but any dog could.