On Wednesday when Mom came home from the Humane Society, she had bruises all over her thigh because she got humped really hard by an English bulldog named Bam Bam. There are two English bulldogs at the shelter right now, and the other one's name is Pebbles. These two dogs are 4 years old, and they might be littermates, but even if they aren't, they have at least always lived together since they were puppies. So now the Humane Society wants to try to keep them together when they get adopted.
So why do dogs do this mounting business if they are not making puppies? Well, there are a bunch of reasons, and here's a list of them:
1. It can be a dominance thing. Puppies in a litter will mount each other long before they are old enough to do the real sex thing. They are just trying to work out who is the "top dog." This can also happen in any group of dogs living together. Sometimes female dogs will hump male dogs or other female dogs. And sometimes male dogs will hump other males. This does not mean they are gay! It's how they get to be the leader of the pack.
2. It's all about being excited. Some dogs get really aroused when they play or are in other exciting situations, and the way they work out some of their energy is by mounting. Sometimes they will even mount a toy or a sofa or a person's leg -- just because they don't know what else to do with themselves.
3. It's because of insecurity or stress. Mom thinks this may be what's going on with Bam Bam, because he and Pebbles are not used to living in a shelter. And then when they get some attention, he gets all excited and starts humping.
4. It has to do with screwed-up hormones. For example, it might happen that when a girl dog is spayed, she will end up with her male hormones drowning out her female hormones, and then she will start doing the mounting thing.
5. It's an obsessive/compulsive disorder. Yep, dogs get it, just like humans do!
6. It feels good, so a dog just keeps doing it, and it gets to be a habit or OCD.
7. It might be some sort of medical problem that is making the dog feel all itchy and irritated in the genital area.
8. It's a good way to get attention. Even being yelled at is better than being ignored!
9. It's playing at making puppies. Dogs learn things like how to hunt, mate and do other useful stuff by practicing with littermates or other dogs.
Okay, so now that you know why dogs mount, how can you get them to stop? Spaying or neutering may help, but if the dog has already got in the habit of humping, that may not totally solve the problem.
You can ignore the behavior and walk away from it, like Mom tried to do with Bam Bam. Then you should reward behavior you want, which Mom did by giving Bam Bam treat when he was not trying to hump her, which wasn't very much of the time!
You can distract the dog from humping by having him sit or go get a toy. If one dog keeps humping another dog, separate the dogs and keep them apart when they can't be supervised. If a dog gets so excited while playing that he starts mounting, then the play should stop so that he can calm down.
Socializing dogs at a young age and exposing them to exciting situations helps a lot. Also, dogs will not feel so stressed if they have a regular schedule and plenty of exercise. There are some drugs that can help, too, especially if a dog tends to be obsessive about humping.
My brothers Barry and Mel used to mount me sometimes, which I found really annoying. They mostly only did it when we were playing with Mom and they got excited. And they were pretty good about quitting when I snarked at them. Now that we are all a little older, they have stopped that humping nonsense, which I think is a very good thing!