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A dog mounting an object, another dog, or even a person is usually portrayed as humorous in the movies or on TV, but most dog owners know that in real life it can be an annoying behavior that may even be embarrassing in certain situations. It can be frustrating as an owner because it is a natural behavior… so what can you do about it?
Do all dogs do it?
This behavior is normal in all dogs, typically the male mounting a female, because it is for reproductive/breeding purposes. If neither the male or female has been fixed, chances are high the female will become pregnant and you will have a new litter of puppies in a few months!
Sometimes the behavior can also be displayed in females mounting males, a dog mounting another dog of the same sex, a dog mounting a cat or other family pet, sometimes toys, and even people. Both dogs that have and have not been fixed will also participate as an attention-getting device.
Why do they do it?
Puppies that have not hit puberty yet consider mounting behavior as part of play. The instinct to “hump” is a natural behavior that they might not even notice they are doing. Usually they get distracted pretty easily, so the behavior doesn’t last very long – and since they are so young, there is no need to worry about some new puppies arriving!
You may assume that dogs showing mounting behavior may be a way for them to show dominance over the less dominant dog, but it is actually not the case. Often the more submissive dog is more likely to try the behavior because they have a lot more anxious emotions to express and that is how they “get it out.”
How to curb the behavior
Mounting is not a “bad” behavior, but typically something dogs do if they are over-stimulated or not getting the attention they want. If the dog who is being mounted growls, barks, etc. that is a sure sign that it is unwanted, but other times they may just ignore it.
Instead of scolding, yelling, or punishing your dog, try to interrupt the behavior and redirect their attention to something else. Clapping loudly, whistling, dropping a book, or an unexpected sound will get their attention, and encouraging them to play with a toy or throwing something to get them to follow you should stop the behavior.
A way to prevent the behavior can be by adding more exercise to your dogs’ daily routine. It will tire them out and keep them from getting bored. Also giving them more stimulating things to do like puzzles can keep their brain occupied and it is something you can do together. It will also encourage them to focus on you rather than that behavior.
There is no “cure all” to the behavior, but by combining more exercise, ways to stimulate their brain, and interrupting/redirecting the behavior it can reduce the behavior over time.