Why Dogs Mount

Why Dogs Mount

There’s nothing more embarrassing (or funny, depending on your perspective) than watching your dog hump another dog, a visitor’s leg or even his favorite toy. Many a dog owner screams out in frustration when they see this fairly common dog behavior from their beloved pet.

I mean, how could he do such a thing? You training him, neutered him, reprimanded him, yet still he pumps away.

There seems to be much confusion over what the dog’s motivation could be in this situation, since many of the offending Fidos have been spayed or neutered – and they are sometimes humping dogs of the same sex. What gives? Is he confused or going through some sort of experiment period, like you did in college.

I find that most people make very wrong conclusions when it comes to mounting so I thought I would set the record straight right here as to why your dog insists pumping away and embarrassing you in front of the entire neighborhood.

It’s said that dogs typically mount for three reasons: reproduction, dominance and play. Let’s take a look at each for a moment.


This one is easy – birds, bees . . .  The way dogs do the nasty is for the male dog to mount the female from behind and get busy. I don’t think I need to say more on this, you get it right?

Now that explains only a very small percentage of the mounting we usually see out there. That doesn’t explain why same sex dogs mount, why we get mounted or why they go to town on some inanimate objects. For those explanations we have to move on to the other two reasons.


If you’ve read anything I’ve posted on dominance in the past you know that I don’t believe dogs seek out domination of anything. Many people mistakenly believe that most mounting occurs because the dog doing the humping is trying to establish dominance over the other dog, our leg or that big fluffy pillow.

Let me assure that no dog out there is interested in conquering your bedding or anything else. Dog’s don’t need to make such overt displays in order to gain the respect of the pack. Showing dominance has more to do with resource control than it does with proving a point.

Although I believe that they could mount another dog as a dominant gesture, in five years of working with dogs, I rarely see it. And I really don’t think they are attempting to make you their bitch by jack hammering on your leg.


Excitement and arousal, in my opinion, is the cause of 95% of the mounting that the domestic dogs exhibits. Dogs will mount each other in play all the time. They’ll do it to dogs of the same sex, older dogs, younger dogs, dogs with a higher rank in the pack, and they’ll even hump the air next to a couple of dogs playing.

It’s nothing more than an expression of arousal of the moment. Everyone dog shows their excitement in different ways, just different people express things in different ways. Some dogs wag their tails uncontrollably and some like hump.

Even though most mounting is nothing more than excitement it should still be discouraged because not everyone (dog, human and pillow) like it. Every dog has their own individual limit to the length of time they will tolerate being mounted. And once that limit is reached, they will do what they have to get the other dog off.

It’s like a little boy coming up to his friend and playfully hitting him in the arm. Then doing it again. And again, and again . . .  Sooner or later the boy is going to have enough of it and hit his annoying buddy. That’s pretty much how I see it with dogs. Some dog will put up with quite a bit of mounting while others will bite at the signs of the first pump.

So it’s up to us as responsible dog owners to correct these offending humpers before they push it too far and get bit. If you have one of these persistent mounters, the dog park may not be the place for you. One day he’s going to piss off a dog with a short fuse and big bite.

photo by: smerikal
  • ali mesghali

    How your dog behaves has a lot to do with you as a dog owner. I believe that most dog behavior issues arise from owners that don’t give their dogs the attention and exercise that the dog needs. Many dog owners humanize their dogs, give no aversivor positive training, tie them up or crate them for long hours, give them the same lousy food every day. So you will probably see some sort of behavior disorder out of those dogs.

    Many dog trainers and behavior experts have turned away from comparing dogs to wolves. More and more seem to be moving away from the pack theory and the domination theories. The fact is that Dogs have evolved from wolves. Over 2000 years of domestication has made Dogs what they are today. But the instinctive wolf behavior will never leave the dog. It is true that a feral dog would rather be a solo scavenger than a pack hunter. That’s only because given their options, it is easier for them to scavenge in the proximity of humans, than to cooperate with a pack for food in the wilderness. But no doubt, if suddenly there were no more humans around, I’m sure that eventually domestic dogs would behave just like wolves and wild dogs of Africa.

    We humanize our dogs. I don’t see why dogs wouldn’t dogmanize us. And I’m sure they do. So by definition, any two or more dogs is a pack. That would mean that you, your family, any other dog in the house and your dog are a pack. In any pack, or group, or troop, or pride, or whatever you want to call it, there will be a hierarchy of order. This goes for a gang of humans or a troop of monkeys, a pack of wolves or your dog’s pack. If you allow your dog to take the lead in your household, he will. Simple as that. Aversive training is very important in taking control of your dog. The aversive training makes you the leader of your pack. That should be reinforced by positive reward training to make your dog dependant on you as a leader and to reinforce good behavior that you want your dog to display.

    • Fern

      Thanks for your comment Ali. The idea of dominance is a much debated topic in dog training circles. Personally I don’t think dogs have any desire to dominate us or take over our families (ie pack). I think structure and having rules is very important and one of the cornerstones of having a good relationship with your dog.

      • ali mesghali

        Yes Fern,

        Dogs have no desire to dominate us. Unfortunately this is an instinct that is inborn in them – and even so in all creatures, including you and me. we as humans stride to gain power. whether it be by wealth or force. The history of mankind has been a history of “Domination”. That is because instinctively we are no more or less an animal. No different from monkeys, wolves, lions, elephants, or perhaps even mice. Dogs are intelligent, opportunistic animals. They have no desire to dominate, but they will protect what they believe to be their resource and they will take the lead to do it, unless someone else is protecting that resource for them. If I allow my pitbulls to rule my house, then there is a good chance that they may hurt someone protecting their interest. And that is the bottom line. They have an interest in their relationship with us.

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