When i was young, i often questioned why dogs hump. As i grew older, the answer *ahem* became rather obvious. However, one fine day, approximately 3 years ago, I noticed that my dogs were humping each other. Yes, you’ve heard it right. However, the most amazing thing is, all 3 of them are girls! They certainly do not do it with mating in mind, so why did this behavior occur so frequently? That was a question that plagued me till i bothered to find some articles on their behavior.
Well, a little bit on my girls. The first Otto, is a mongrel who my family adopted from SPCA. She’s been with me for about 14 yrs now. Then there was Lucky the poodle, who unlike what his name suggests, wasn’t so and passed away about 2 years ago. The next dog we got was Akita the Siberian Husky, who we actually bought off someone. Apart from her tearing apart birds like kingfishers on a weekly basis, she’s actually much fun being around the house. And finally, Joy Joy, my golden retriever who i picked up from SPCA while i was working there approximately 3 years ago. Mind you, apart from the first 2, the rest were adopted without parental consent. LOL.
Anyway, that’s besides the point. I first observed them actually humping each other after Akita hit her first sexual maturity. Initially, I questioned; Was it some sort of sexual behavior? It was intriguing as this used to happen a lot during play time especially between Joy (the GR) and Akita (Husky). It actually disturbed me quite a lot and i actually questioned if my dogs were lesbians. This was heightened by the fact that they used to reject the advances of Lucky, the only male dog in the house.
Well, it turns out, as usual, the internet has all the answers.
1. The first reason why they hump is due to, irritation or itching in the genital area. Its probably a response to the physical irritation they find in that area. (Kathy Diamond Davis) However, I have long since ruled this one out due to the fact the vet “inspecting” their areas, and the all clear was given.
2. Spaying. Spaying a female dog will sometimes result in an increase in testosterone influence, if they produce androgenic (testosterone-like) hormones at higher levels than most females and then the suppressing effect of estrogen is removed due to spaying. (Mike Richards) Well, this is another possibility, but the only spayed dog in my family is Otto and we’ve never really encountered such behavior from her. Maybe because she’s so much smaller than both the husky and the GR.
3. Dominance. It has been explained that humping is also used as a method to express dominance over another dog. While Otto might have been the first around, Akita, being a playful husky, has somehow managed to express her dominance over the rest. Firstly, physically, she’s a pretty huge husky, approaching the size of an Alaskan Malamute. The fact that it is usually her doing the humping acts as evidence as well. Through this behavior, she has managed to claim the role of the Alpha Female in the family, despite the irritation and annoyance of Otto, who sees herself as queen right from the start.
So next time, when you see dogs humping, don’t automatically assume its for mating reasons! And though it might seem strange, it is actually relatively normal behavior unless it does get so prevalent that you have to consider an obsessive/compulsive or anxiety based cause. (Mike Richards)
Mike Richards, DMV “Behavior – Mounting and Humping” http://www.vetinfo.com/dhump.html accessed on 9 April 2010
Kathy Diamond Davis “Humping: Is it all about sex? – Veterinary Partner.com http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=1498
Kathy Diamond Davis, Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others, Dogwise Publishing, Direct Book Service Inc. p. 127-130
photos are the poster’s own.