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How to Stop Your Dog from Humping Your Leg (Or Anything Else)

There may be nothing more embarrassing than having company over and your dog starts in on their leg. While intact male dogs may seem like they would be more prone to this behaviour, the fact is that any dog, of any sex, intact or altered, may do this. That’s because humping, whether it’s another dog, your leg, or even nothing (sometimes referred to as “air humping”) is not a sexual behaviour. In order to get your dog to stop, you need to understand what it actually is.

Humping objects is a sign that your dog is over stimulated. In the case above, the arrival of a new person may be so exciting for your dog that she becomes over stimulated, and her body’s response is to hump. Think about when your dog normally does this:

· Right when you get home from work?

· To other dogs at the dog park?

· After or before meal times?

· While playing?

· When someone comes over?

These are all highly exciting times to some dogs. For others dogs these situations actually cause over stimulation due to anxiety, which can also result in humping behaviour.

So how do you stop your dog from humping?

In order to stop your dog from exhibiting this behaviour, you need to work on keeping them under their stimulation threshold. This might mean taking frequent breaks at the dog park, so they don’t get to riled up, or skipping the dog park altogether for something calmer such as a loose-leash walk.

Have a dog that gets excited or anxious at home? Frequent breaks during play in your own back yard can help as well. During the breaks, have your dog practice a down stay on a mat (you can give him something to chew on like a meaty bone if you like), or another relaxing behaviour. This is teaching your dog how to “come down” from a high. Have him relax for a few minutes, and then go back to play.

Teaching your dog to relax in a mat stay is also the perfect solution to pups who like to greet guests in this overly exuberant manner. Have them on their mat when your guests come in and wait until the people are settled before calling your dog over to say hi.

If you think anxiety is the cause, these same basic principles still apply. If your dog is too anxious, they need to learn to relax and giving them distance from whatever makes them anxious or avoiding it altogether (this may mean no more trips to the dog park! If they make your dog anxious, he doesn’t want to be there), can help keep your dog under threshold.

The trick is to know your dog’s body language so you can tell when he is getting close to being over-stimulated, so you can stop him before that happens. Some signs dogs do before mounting may include licking, panting, and pawing. Signs of excitement might include jumping up, “zoomies” (running around the room or yard).

Both overly excited and overly anxious dogs may not be able to listen to or respond to your command cues.

When you see these signs, it’s time to take a break! Put your dog on a mat stay, or if he is crate trained, you can also put him in his crate with a chewy for a bit.

Over time, your dog will learn to relax in these environments, and the humping should decrease. You may find the help of a professional dog trainer that uses positive reinforcement methods will help you get results quicker.

Health Conditions

If your dog is older and suddenly starts displaying humping behaviour when they have not before, you may want to have a vet look at her. It’s uncommon, but humping behaviour can be a sign that your dog has something wrong physically, including incontinence and urinary tract trouble. No matter the age of your dog, it never hurts to rule out physical issues before taking the behavioural training approach.

Thankfully, once you have figured out the cause, you should be able to get your dog to stop humping your leg, or whatever else he fancies and, in the process, create a dog that is more relaxed about life in general. A win-win for you both.

6 thoughts on “How to Stop Your Dog from Humping Your Leg (Or Anything Else)

  1. Mish says:

    These articles and tips are just fabulous thank you for sending them.

  2. DEBORAH CHILMAN says:

    Are you able to address why my dog is constantly humped by other dogs he is de sexed and a happy dog but it is distressing and he spends his time sitting still to try and avoid the attention. I find owners of the ‘humping dogs’ unsympathetic to the situation.

    1. Robert says:

      Hi Deborah, my guess is his smell and maybe his posturing is contributing to this. Many males will hump literally anything, so it may not be a reflection on your dog but one of the company he keeps. Simplest solution is don’t keep with that company. I’m sure your dog would enjoy just walking with you. No need to add other dogs.

  3. Alan says:

    Great information for all to read and also so relevant for a lot of readers. Thanks for your continuing articles.

  4. Alan says:

    Hi guys, I was wondering if you could give us some suggestions on how to change a dog’s reactive temperament after it was attacked by a big dog on a walk as a pup. An off lead dog came out of nowhere and attacked my dog and now it is always on the offensive when other dogs approach.

    1. Robert says:

      You could start by introducing your dog to one dog that you know wont attack your dog. But in general fear behaviours are hard to get over. Here is an old newsletter I wrote on how to get fearful or aggressive dogs to meet. Have a read and let me know how it goes. click link to read –> https://stayloyal.com.au/pdf/july_newsletter75.pdf

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