The Dog Park Chronicles: Humping Edition

I love taking my dog Iris to the dog park and she loves going.* Iris is relaxed when interacting with other dogs, and puts up with rude behavior. Except humping. Iris Dog has a strict no-humping policy.


Humping is Normal Dog Behavior


Mounting and humping are normal for dogs. Mounting can be a modal action pattern, an innate behavior triggered by the environment. (Other examples are food caching, chasing fast-moving objects, and dissecting toys.) Dogs mount as courtship behavior or to solicit play. And some dogs mount or hump as a response to stress.


Humping at the Dog Park


There is no problem with mounting and humping at the dog park as long as everyone is ok with it. Both female and male dogs will mount, and target dogs of either sex. Sometimes mounting only lasts a few seconds, and then the dogs change over to chase or wrestle. No big deal! Some dogs don't mind being mounted as part of play.


However, some dogs will get fixated on humping and can be difficult to redirect. Which is what happened today. A 7-month old dog got fixated on trying to mount Iris, despite her attempts to let him know it wasn't ok. (Young dogs often don't get the message!) After shifting her body to avoid being mounted a couple times, Iris changed tactics. She allowed the dog to greet her face-to-face, but when the dog attempted to mount she bellowed at him -- imagine an angry 90-pound goose with floppy ears. 😂 Iris is a good communicator with other dogs, so I let her deal with it. When the other dog continued trying a bit too long, we redirected him. It's always best to intervene before bad feelings escalate.


The dog park is a wealth of examples of all kinds of dog behavior and social interaction. Take the time to enjoy all the play and personalities of your area's dogs!


*Not All Dogs Like the Dog Park

While there are plenty of dogs that like going to the dog park, many do not. If your dog is not having a good time at the dog park, consider setting up play with a dog friend, or finding other forms of exercise. Read more about dog parks in this piece by ethologist Marc Bekoff PhD.


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