Dog on the Couch

2015-09-03 06:00

Dear Susan,

MY Labrador puppy is lovely in most ways but I am concerned about her mounting other puppies or dogs during play. Perhaps even more embarrassing, she humps visitors’ legs. I don’t want to have a dominant dog. Any advice will be appreciated.

L. M

I am pleased that you evidently know that this is not necessarily or even usually a sexual behaviour in dogs. But I can assure you that your fear is unfounded - you have not been saddled with a dominant dog. Mounting is a perfectly normal and healthy part of dog behaviour. Researchers have found that mounting alone is not a predictor of dominance, and that relationships between pairs of dogs vary depending on which resource a particular dog values most.

So in one instance a dog may be dominant over another, but this may be reversed in different circumstances or couplings. Therefore, do not view it as a definitive trait.

The mounting you see during play usually starts in both sexes at around six weeks. Research has also shown that dogs learn that this activity is a sure way of getting attention. It’s a way of saying, “take notice of me. Let’s be friends”. If it is really getting out of hand, some advice follows.

Although embarrassing for you when your dog humps your visitors, it may help you to understand that dogs also do this when stressed, anxious or excited such as when visitors arrive, in your case, or for instance when they sense that an outing in the car is imminent. It can be a way of saying “yay” (or, if a younger dog, “awesome!”).

An anxious dog mounting a new visitor to the house may also indicate a displacement activity. A human parallel of this would be something like twirling hair or an item of clothing, or biting nails. Just as an anxious child may find comfort in sucking their thumb, dogs, not having thumbs, may also hump some inanimate object such as a pillow.

If this activity becomes obsessive, for instance every time visitors arrive or whenever you’re about to go for a walk, try to distract the dog by offering some attractive diversion and in this way inculcate an acceptable alternative behaviour. It is a fact that behaviours that are rewarded are repeated, this is the basis for positive reinforcing training programmes. Behaviours that are not rewarded but ignored will fade.

Laughter can be rewarding for some dogs, so if they hump and are rewarded by the victim laughing they will repeat the action in future. Mounting during play should only be interrupted if it is prolonged or if the play partner finds the behaviour upsetting and is unable to stop it.

Perhaps this will be less embarrassing for us if we recognise it, if in moderation, as normal dog behaviour.

Send questions to Susan Henderson (accredited animal behaviourist), info@dogbox trainingschool.co.za

Researchers have found that mounting alone is not a predictor of dominance, and that relationships between pairs of dogs vary depending on which resource a particular dog values most

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.