Humping other dogs "is just what they do," says one New Yorker. By: mkosut
Humping other dogs “is just what they do,” says one New Yorker. By: mkosut

Here in New York City, not much raises an eyebrow anymore.

But in the city’s dog parks, many of our hairiest residents engage in one of the few acts you’ll see in public that can make New Yorkers uncomfortable: humping.

Whether it’s fast humping, slow humping, hard humping or soft humping, there’s a chance that at least one pet owner will be none too happy about it.


I Take a Look Around

On a crisp fall day at Madison Square Park’s dog run, I saw first-hand how canine couplings can bring a range of emotions.

On the outside at least, most of the people in the park seemed unperturbed by dogs humping other dogs, and took on a “live and let hump” attitude.

“This is just what they do,” said Sue Levine, a creative consultant in advertising who watched as her maltipoo, Tony, made the moves on a much larger Doberman. “If you take your dog here, this is going to happen. I mean, they are fixed, and it’s not a sex thing — it’s more about dominance.”

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Levine’s acceptance of the act comes with a qualifier, and one that repeated itself over the course of the afternoon: Why should it make a difference if it’s just one mutt trying to get his no-longer-attached rocks off, or an instinctive urge to mount and conquer?

Those who seem comfortable with the act prefer to couch it in terms of dominance, perhaps to spare themselves the embarrassing prospect that it is indeed the alternative.

After all, many pet owners like to view their animals as extensions of themselves, and in this day and age, it simply isn’t appropriate to go around mounting whatever catches your eye. As a result, the owner of the “top” is often embarrassed, as if the dog’s randy behavior reflects on themselves. Likewise, the guardian of the “bottom” can feel as if their pet — and as an extension, themselves — are victims of an unwanted advance by a stranger.

Just Not Into It

Attaching such human baggage to this might explain why some people don’t like all of the free and open dog sexuality.

A younger woman stopped in mid-conversation to yell, “Oh no!” as her beagle went after a shih tzu like a prisoner on a conjugal visit. “Stop it! Stop it!” she yelled, with her pooch, lost in the moment, ignoring her cries.

On the other end of the run, a Labrador retriever mix went after a larger Saint Bernard–type mix, and the Saint’s human lashed out at his 20-something counterpart. “Will you please control your dog?” he pleaded. “My dog has a bad back!”

With both people declining to go on the record (and the mutts not talking), we may never know if there really was a concern for the larger dog’s well-being, or if it was just unpleasant for the humans to see their pet “turned out” in such a fashion.

Just Let Them Be Dogs

Madison Square Park dog runner Brian Fisher, who was supervising a gaggle of dogs for clients, might have the most logical view. He believes you can’t stop it, and the dogs can take care of themselves.

Much like a scene that will play out at any bar on a Friday night, when one of the potential humpees doesn’t want to buy what the potential humper is selling, a scowl and snarl is generally enough to send the suitor on his way.

“You can’t stop ’em, you can’t tell ’em no — they are dogs, and it’s just what they are going to do,” Fisher said.

“They are generally pretty smart,” he continued. “If they aren’t interested in the other dog’s advances, they’ll break it up. They will work it out, and maybe all the humans around here shouldn’t be so uptight about it.”

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Live in the Moment

So next time you witness a dog (or your dog) humping other dogs, try to look past all the emotional burdens we carry around with us, and live in the moment.

See it as what it is: a natural act that represents a wide number of things for the animals involved, who generally know better than we do whether or not it’s appropriate.

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Leave a Comment

  • DorothyUk

    Humping is a delicate subject, hopefully I can comment on this without appearing to be crude.

    Most of my dogs have been neutered GSD’s. Regardless, I think that GSD’s have a low sex drive; and I have never had this problem with my dogs. I know that dogs do hump, however if they do not know what to do about their burning desire to copulate, they will hump. They are oblivious to the social niceties and they need to cope with their desires.

    There are intelligent people (perverts) who want to experience all aspects of sexual gratification. Our dogs do not know that most people frown upon this. I think that when a dog humps, we should ignore this and involve it in more exercise and training. Let’s face it; dogs love training and its rewards.

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  • ska

    What to do when a female dog gets on top of a male dog and starts humping him, when the dogs have little social skils if and dominance issues in general?

  • Bud

    It’s natural so what’s the problem? Probably makes your dog feel good too – and that can’t be a bad thing can it?

    • Deb

      Of course it is not a problem for the dog who is doing the mounting! But what about the other dog who is being harrassed, chased or mounted? It is rarely appreciated by the recipient, as is usually the case from what I see in my small dog daycare. In fact, it can cause the recipient to feel overwhelmed, afraid or angry. This is a big problem on certain days in my daycare where some male dogs are obsessed with mounting one or two other dogs. The recipients of this attention are definitely NOT having a good time.

      If anyone has a thoughtful response on how to resolve the problem, I would appreciate it. (I can spend half the day training certain dogs, watching their every move, praising every time they don’t mount and correcting with verbal correction, squirt gun, and time outs every time they do. But at the end of the day, they can’t seem to stop. Unfortunately I can’t tether three dogs to me all day long and continue to work.) Anyone have any real-life practical advice for how to handle this in a daycare setting?

  • Matt

    It is also known that many dogs practice role-reversals in play. It is not uncommon to see a submissive dog mount a dominant dog that he knows very well. The difference can usually be seen in how they do it. A more dominant or sexually charged dog will mount and thrust very forcefully; a submissive dog that is playing will look much more relaxed and goofy. It is much easier to stop a submissive dog that is just playing. You should be able to tell him to stop from a distance.

  • Charles

    I work in a shelter, and humping is a sign of poor dominance training, just like jumping, nipping or dogs that are generally pushy. While it’s true that fixed dogs will use humping primarily as an act of dominance, it’s a training opportunity with other dogs just the same as if they were humping your grandmother. If your dog is into this kind of boundary-testing behavior, make sure you teach them not to try and “dominate” everything that moves on its own. It may start with other dogs, but you can be sure it won’t stay limited to just one species.

    • Pets Adviser

      Thanks Charles. “Training opportunity” is a great way to look at it. Dogs that go on humping sprees likely think they’re the boss, and it’s the pet owner who needs to be “the boss.”

  • Ian

    My spoiled-rotten basett hound, 18 months old, is in her second heat and continually humping our 15-year-old jack russell. Any rational explanation? She also does this, but not as much, when not in heat.