Why Do Dogs Hump The Air? 6 Causes & Solutions

Some dog behaviors are funny and good for laughs, others come across as strange and could leave you with a large question mark hovering over your head (if you were a cartoon character)

Then, others would make you cover your face in slight embarrassment if you have a visitor around.

Dogs humping is one such behavior, and it can be cringy, to say the least.

Besides having to explain such to your guests, you might rightfully ask “why do dogs hump the air?”

Is it is a normal attitude or a sign of something more? Is your dog frustrated, nervous, or just being a perv?

We’ll explore the subject of dogs humping, but you can be sure from the onset that it is normal behavior.

However, when it becomes compulsive, then it would be a concern.

There are reasons your dog is humping the air, an object, or at its owner, and there are ways you can curb this habit (and save yourself the embarrassment of having to explain that this isn’t part of your pooch’s training).

Understanding Masturbation, Mounting or Humping Behavior in Dogs

As stated above, humping is a normal behavior in dogs. It is also known as mounting or masturbation, which all refers to the same thing.

Dogs have many ways they hump. They can “mount and thrust against other animals, people, and objects, such as wadded-up blankets, dog beds, and toys.”

You might also find your dog licking itself, rubbing against objects, or even your feet.

There are several reasons a dog could hump, all of which would be discussed in detail in the following section.

Some reasons are natural, others require intervention from you.

Also, humping isn’t restricted to one gender. Though it is assumed that only male dogs hump, females do too.

Neutered and spayed dogs hump as well, as do puppies. Far from being a social concern, humping in dogs is usually instinctive. 

Why Do Dogs Hump the Air?

There isn’t a simple reason for humping dogs as there are many factors that could push your dog to hump the air and on other objects.

Here are some common ones:

1. Sexual urge

The first major reason for humping in dogs is that it feels sexually aroused.

This usually happens to unneutered males when they sight a female in heat. To ease off the frustration, they hump.

Male puppies can also hump because their hormones develop before they get ready to mate.

Humping provides an outlet. This is one reason neutered dogs hump too.

Female dogs that are in their estrus cycle and not allowed to mate may also hump to get some release. 

2. Excitement

Besides sexual desires, too much excitement can make a dog hump. When a dog gets too excited, it may hump the air or other objects to reduce the tension.

There are many situations this can happen. During playtime with other dogs, a dog might hump either the air or on other dogs.

Also, dogs who don’t like being left alone for long may get so excited seeing you that it will hump in the air or on your feet.

Creepy, perhaps, but still normal. Energetic dogs that haven’t been outside for long might hump in excitement. 

3. Stress and anxiety

If your dog suddenly starts humping or does so after some traumatic event or massive change, it could be stressed or anxious.

Relocation to another city, new members or dogs in the family, an accident, or even a new smell can make the dog hump.

If you’re anxious about something, your dog might also pick it up.

4. Lack of proper socialization

Socialization would teach a dog how to behave when it first meets a new person, dog or gets to a new environment.

Without proper socialization, your dog may not know how to react to a particular situation. Consequently, it starts humping. 

5. Control

Humping can also be a form of social control that a dog uses on another.

This is also tied to socialization as a properly socialized dog won’t feel the need to hump another dog to show control.

Medical Conditions to Rule Out 

It is rare for a dog to hump because of a medical issue, but not impossible.

Some illnesses bring discomfort that would make dogs hump in the air to get relief. 

One such illness is the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) which can affect the dog’s reproductive organ.

Priapism (painful erection) is another medical condition that could make a dog hump. Skin allergies can also lead to humping.

For these illnesses, you’re likely to see other symptoms in addition to compulsive humping. Once you notice this, take your pooch to the veterinarian for diagnosis.

Now That You Know Why Dogs Hump, Here’s How to Stop it

If your dog’s humping does not make you uncomfortable and it isn’t linked to poor socialization or anxiety, there’s no need to stop it.

However, if it is compulsive or a habit you’d rather not want from your dog, you can take some steps to reduce it.

  1. Distract your dog once you see it in the act with a command that it already knows. For example, once you sight it about to hump, say ‘sit!’ to distract it. 
  1. Provide sufficient companionship so your dog won’t feel alone, especially if it is prone to separation anxiety. If you can’t stay at home all day, make arrangements for a dog sitter to care for it. 
  1. Also, provide it with enough physical and mental activities so it would have outlets to release any energy and excitement. 
  1. Proper socialization will go a long way towards teaching your pooch proper behavior when it meets a stranger or another dog. 
  1. If humping is a manifestation of control, stress, or anxiety and you find it hard to curb it, you can hire the services of a professional trainer to do the job. 
  1. If it is compulsive, there are other steps you can take. For the unneutered/unspayed dog, Neutering and spaying can reduce (but not stop) the habit. If you notice that it is tied to an illness, get it to the veterinarian. 

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do female dogs hump the air?

While humping is more common amongst male dogs, females can wound up doing the same either out of excitement or as a means of releasing sexual tension.

Even spayed dogs can engage in humping because they still produce sexual hormones.

Why do neutered dogs hump the air?

There are many reasons a dog can hump even after neutering besides the need to mate.

That said, neutered dogs can experience sexual feelings and would need to hump.

Do dogs still hump after neutering?

Every dog has the potential to hump, whether it is unneutered or neutered. Dogs can still hump after neutering, even for sexual reasons.

Can puppies hump?

Puppies can hump in the air or against each other either to play or to release sexual tension when their hormones start developing.

Can dogs get sexually attracted to humans?

Just as they sense the sexual hormones of each other, dogs can also be attuned to the sexual hormones of a human.

This could make them sniff around the groin area in curiosity.

However, that your pet is humping your feet does not mean it is sexually attracted.

Should you stop your dog from humping?

Unless excessive, humping is normal canine behavior that won’t cause any harm and might even be beneficial to ease tension.

However, you can stop your dog from humping if it gets too much or makes you uncomfortable. 

Final Thoughts on Reasons Dogs Hump Things

Humping is a natural habit in dogs like many other ones that you know.

This behavior can happen for several reasons, and shouldn’t be a cause for concern if your pooch isn’t overindulging.

If you notice your dog humping, try not to react in a way that would make it panic.

Instead, be observant to pick out the exact reason for the behavior.

Is your dog stressed? Sexually frustrated? In need of exercise?

Once you pinpoint the reason, you’d know how best to handle the behavior.

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References: ASPCA

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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