February 4, 2013 by Julia West
Listening to the radio a few nights ago, I heard a story about a man who had brought his dog to be euthanized because he believed the dog was gay. He’d caught his male dog humping another male dog and couldn’t stand the thought of owning a gay dog, so he surrendered the dog to a rabies control shelter. Thankfully, social media stepped in and started a campaign to save the dog, which was reportedly adopted and is now known as Elton.
Putting aside the rampant homophobia (which is appalling), this story was ignorant beyond belief. What is a bit scary, though, is that a lot of pet owners I have encountered don’t know that humping is normal, frequently non-sexual canine behavior. On the Boxer forum that I’ve co-administrated for the better part of a decade, I’ve seen numerous new dog owners bashfully mention their puppy’s embarrassing behavior. Some are confused, others are concerned and most of them attribute it to sexual drive.
Humping, from everything I’ve read and seen, is a normal dog behavior typically linked to play or dominance. Most of the humping I hear about seems to be the milder play form, which I suspect was the case with “Elton”.
In my experience with my own dogs, humping has been play or excitement motivated rather than an act of dominance. First Xena, then Dash, and now Delta have all humped during play. As you might imagine, my first [female] dog being a humper was pretty embarrassing. I was one of those new owners posting on the forum, wondering what was going on. Once I became accustomed to the idea, I started to notice that Xena was doing it when she wanted to play and felt the other dog was ignoring her. Dash did it when he got over-stimulated during particularly vigorous play sessions. And Delta, much like Xena, has been humping Dash when she wants to play and feel ignored.
So is humping something to get worked up over? No. Depending on the source of the humping, you may need to do something to correct it or you may just let the other dog decide how much they are going to take. But being over-excited about a dog’s natural behavior doesn’t serve either of you. Get over it.