Rather embarrassing for us, but perfectly natural for them! If you find dog mounting things (humans, other dogs, inanimate objects) there is a reason for it. And it’s not just because they are ‘horny’ (in fact it usually isn’t because of that at all).
Any dog could feel the need to start mounting. Whether your dog is male or female, neutered or entire – in the majority of cases, mounting is a ‘behaviour’. It’s a behaviour which says “I’m in charge here”.
Mounting is ‘dominance’
For want of anything better to describe it as, mounting or ‘humping‘ is a dominant behaviour. In the wild, it would be the Alpha pair that mated. Simply because they had the best genes, so theirs would be the ones that the pack would want to continue – to ensure its long term longevity.
It’s not often that our domestic dog would actually get an opportunity to breed, but that instinct is there, so if your dog believes itself to be a strong dog, high up in the pack, then it will want to show that in certain circumstances. For instance, your dog mounting a visitor is his or her way of saying “Don’t think you can just walk into this pack and take over, I’m in charge here”. Contrary to popular belief, it is not because your dog fancies your visitor! This is why you can see this behaviour even after your dog has been neutered.
What does this dominance mean?
If you find your dog mounting things people or other dogs, this is a sure sign that underneath it all, your dog thinks that he/she is in charge of your pack. If this is the case you will no doubt be experiencing some (or all) of these other signs of a dog that thinks it is in charge:
- Jumping up
- Pulling on the lead
- Excessive barking
- Stressed behaviour on the walk (aggression, barking, fear, over excitement about leaving)
- Poor recall
- Dominance over food (begging/stealing/eating when they decide rather than when you offer it)
- Selective obedience
- Toileting inappropriately (in the house/overnight)
- Obsessive behaviour (e.g. tail chasing, excessive licking, excessive play)
- Following you around the house like your shadow
- Climbing up on to furniture uninvited
- Fear of noise (fireworks etc)
Is it serious?
Well in a word, yes! If your dog is mounting, it thinks it is the leader, so therefore it is stressed. How do I know this? Dogs are descendants of wolves. There is a wolf research project going on in Yellowstone park. The stress hormone levels of the Alpha pair in the pack are always significantly higher than the rest of the pack members, because the Alpha pair have overall responsibility for the well-being and survival of the pack.
Now imagine that you take that Alpha wolf out of the pack and put them in a domestic environment with people that speak a different language, and do things that it has no concept of. How stressed do you think it would be now – thinking it is responsible in that environment?
I’m so glad that you looked up mounting behaviour, because it’s given you an insight into what is going on for your dog, and why it’s important to do something about it.
What can I do about it?
The best thing you can do is to learn the language of your dog, and commit to giving him/her clear signals that they understand, so that they can overcome their stress and relax. A nice side benefit of this is that they will stop mounting/humping!
You can either get yourself a copy of The Dog Listener, by Jan Fennell, Or(And) call in a local dog listener to help you to learn the language of your dog.
I am based in Leigh on Sea in Essex, and cover the whole of Essex and the surrounding counties. There are other Dog Listeners in the country. You can search for your nearest one on Jan Fennell’s website. If you want my help, just give me a call or pop me an email.