Dogs can present with some interesting challenges – whether it is barking at people walking by the house, peeing on the carpet even after you let them outside, or jumping up whenever anyone visits your home, dogs can have some interesting quirks to their personalities.
Although most of these are harmless, although maybe annoying, some other behaviors can be a bit more distressing.
Dogs that like to hump people or hump the air can make us feel embarrassed or awkward – truly, why do dogs do this anyway? If your dog humps toys or people, does it mean that they are sexually attracted to those people or those things? The answer may surprise you.
Although it can feel weird to talk about it, dogs can often exhibit embarrassing behaviors, and humping things is certainly one of them.
Although it may seem weird, humping is a fairly normal thing dogs do; it is not just male dogs, but you can also see this with female dogs.
It may feel like there is nothing that you can do to stop this from happening, but there are a few things to know, and that can be done, when a dog is humping the air.
Why Do Dogs Hump The Air
The biggest question that most people have is why the heck do dogs hump things, including the air? Is there a reason that they do this or is it just something that happens? Is it normal or something that I need to worry about?
Let’s start with the easiest part of this conversation – yes, it is completely normal for dogs, both male and female, to sometimes hump things or hump the air. It is another way for dogs to communicate and what they are communicating isn’t always what it appears to be.
Just know that this is a normal form of dog expression and that if it bothers you, there are things that can be done to help decrease the behavior and replace it with something that you feel is more appropriate or socially acceptable.
So, let’s start with the biggest question, why do dogs hump things? Although it may seem obvious, there are actually multiple reasons why you may see this happen.
A Show of Dominance
Sometimes dogs hump people or other dogs as a sign of dominance.
Even dogs that have been neutered can still use this behavior to try and take over a situation or exert themselves over other dogs.
Although they are not trying to do anything “sexual” in nature, it is to show that they are dominant in the situation.
If this bothers you as a dog owner, you can correct the behavior with training, whether it is to use a leash and the command “off” or “down” while gently pulling back on the leash, with some training, this can usually be tempered.
Remember that this is truly an instinctual response not driven by a sex drive (for the most part) and can your dog be trained to not do this on people who come visit your home.
Playing a Game
Although this may seem odd, if you have noticed your dog humping other dogs, and it has not been corrected, your dog can think that it is a game if not being reinforced. If it is something that makes you uncomfortable, you can use the same training to stop the humping behavior when they are playing with other dogs.
If another dog is around, and your dog jumps up to hump that dog while playing, gently use a leash and pull them away while using the command that you will use consistently – this can be “off” or “down” or another word of your choosing.
Whatever you use, be VERY consistent so that anytime the dog hears this word, they understand what you are trying to tell them.
Dogs Humping People – Both Dominance and Excitement
So, when it comes to humping people, there can be many reasons that this happens.
If your dog humps new people that come into your home, your dog may be trying to show that you are their human, and another human does not get you.
They are trying to “claim” you as their own and assert their dominance over other people around you.
They may even be a touch jealous of other people in your life and want to be sure that you notice them.
Dogs may also exhibit humping behavior because they are just excited to be around other people – not in sexual excitement, but a general excitement.
Both male and female dogs can use a humping type movement just to express that they are happy to see people. Typically, as noted before, this is not in sexual excitement, but just another way to express themselves.
Although it can seem odd, a dog that humps your leg, your friend’s leg, or another dog is not always exhibiting a sexual drive or sexual behavior. As noted, humping can be a way that the dog has retained from being a puppy to express dominance, playfulness, or to communicate happiness.
If this type of exhibition bothers you, redirection with a toy, belly rubs, or pets can help to distract from this – it is not necessary or advisable to punish your dog for doing a natural movement.
Instead, reinforce happiness that you feel is more appropriate, such as tail wagging, playing, and sitting next to someone when they are excited. Dogs can learn to extinguish this behavior with some time and attention.