Why Might Female Dogs Display Humping Behaviour?

While it is of course annoying and inappropriate for a male dog to display humping behaviour, humping behaviour in the female dog adds another element of confusion to the situation, as this is of course not as easily explicable as it is with males!

If your female dog is apt to hump things- be this toys, people or other dogs- you might well be scratching your head and wondering what is going on. However, humping in the female dog is not as uncommon as you might at first suspect, and a reasonable amount of female dogs may display this behaviour at some point in their lives. If your bitch is among them, read on to find out some of the reasons behind why female dogs might hump, and if it is a problem.

Learned behaviour

If your female dog lives with or spends a lot of time around a male dog that is apt to display humping behaviour, your bitch may simply be copying them, as dogs are very good at mimicking each other! While it is not particularly common, it would certainly not be classed as unusual for a female dog to pick up on what her common companion is doing, and emulate it. In the same way, bitches that spend a lot of time around dogs that cock their legs to pee may begin to emulate this behaviour when going to the toilet too!

Dominance displays

While we generally associate overt dominance and struggles for dominance with male dogs rather than females, a reasonable proportion of female dogs will become the alpha of the dogs that they spend time with, and when this is the case, humping may be displayed as a dominant behaviour.

Humping is one of the most obvious and overt ways of a dog of either sex communicating their perceived dominance over something; be it another dog, a person or a toy; and in this case, the behaviour is not so much sexually triggered as part of a power-play.

Emotional expression

Humping is first and foremost perceived to be a sexually motivated activity, but even among male dogs that hump, this is only one element of the behaviour, and not always relevant at all. Just as with any other learned or developed behaviour, humping may simply serve as an outlet for your dog of either sex to express emotion or get an emotional payoff from their behaviour.

Your female dog may display humping behaviour for a wide variety of reasons, such as to gain comfort when they feel anxious or uncertain, as a compulsive behaviour pattern, to ease boredom, or to get your attention if she has learned that you react to her behaviour.

Humping is also often undertaken when the dog is excited, full of beans and wants to play, as a means of controlling some of the stimulus that she is facing.

She might also hump her favourite people or other pets in greeting, as a form of hug to say hello and let you know that she has missed you!

Sexual displays

In unspayed bitches, humping can be just one of the wide range of outlets available to your dog to cope with the effects of her hormone levels and natural urges. When a female dog is in the middle of her heat cycle and is primed to reproduce, she will likely act in a whole rage of out of character and unusual ways, both to relieve her own frustration and as an attempt to attract a mate.

Spaying your female dog will almost certainly put an end to sexually-motivated humping behaviour, as she will no longer go through the heat and oestrus cycles that prompt the strong urge to mate and display overtly sexualised behaviours.

Awkward social interactions

Dogs that are not well socialised with other dogs from an early age will miss a lot of the formative phases of emotional development that teach them about appropriate play with others, and how to interact correctly with other dogs of all types.

One of the many behaviours that this may manifest as is humping from the bitch, when meeting other dogs or even other animals. This is particularly often the case among bitches that have been used for breeding and that have not socialised with many other dogs outside of their pack, if they are later spayed and spend more time with strange dogs.

Bitches with this type of background will have spent only a limited amount of time interacting socially with other dogs, and will likely have been bred several times, which of course involves mating behaviour. As a result of this, the bitch associates humping and mounting with what happens when she meets another dog, and despite the removal of the sexual element of the procedure, this may simply form her go-to introduction, something that training and further socialisation may be able to resolve.


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