Most pet parents don't seem surprised when their male dog humps another dog, a pillow or a stranger's leg, but you may wonder why female dogs hump things. It's especially curious in female dogs who were spayed as puppies.

Harmless mounting here and there by males and females is normal with all dog breeds, but it's important to know when humping behavior might need to be addressed.

What Does Normal Behavior Look Like?

Whether you call it humping, mounting or thrusting, the behavior is natural in male and female dogs. For some dogs, it is a response to arousal. For others, it can just be a way to exert dominance and show that they're the top dog in the house.

Humping other pets, people or even the living room couch once or twice a day is not considered excessive. If even the occasional occurrence is bothersome to you or your family members, there are a few things you can do to limit or eliminate this quirky behavior.

Ways to Prevent Mounting

Pet parents often notice mounting behavior starting about the time a female dog enters her first heat. Many veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering your dog before he or she reaches that point to prevent unwanted behaviors. Neutering also prevents a surprise litter of puppies and reduces your pet's risk of testicular or mammary cancer. However, even dogs who are spayed or neutered might still exhibit some humping behavior from time to time.

The ASPCA recommends teaching the "leave it" command early for all dogs to leave objects alone. Once your dog knows this command, you can signal to them that they should step away from furniture, other dogs or guests. If you see your dog preparing to mount an object (by rubbing, licking or whining), you can say "leave it" and distract your four-legged friend with a toy or a more desirable activity. Although it may take some time to train your dog to do this, it may be the easiest way to stop unwanted humping.

When to Be Concerned About Dog Humping

Although dog humping is a normal behavior, there are times it can be a sign of other underlying issues. Be careful to observe other behaviors that lead up to or accompany the humping to determine if you have reason to be concerned.

  • Is the humping a sign of boredom? If your dog is lying around or pacing and then seems to start humping things, maybe they are just bored and need more playtime with you.
  • Could your dog be trying to relieve an itch? Humping and excessive genital licking may be a sign that your dog has a problem, such as skin allergies or a urinary tract infection. If you notice your dog licking her backside, urinating frequently, having trouble urinating or showing signs of dehydration along with the humping, you may need to schedule a visit to the veterinarian, says the ASPCA.

Chrissie Klinger is an educator, writer and mother of two children, three dogs and three cats. Her dog Jake loves sitting on her lap every chance he gets! She enjoys living an active and eco-friendly lifestyle in rural Pennsylvania.