Mounting: What is it and why?


This past week I was asked about mounting behavior (i.e., ’humping’) and why it occurs. Since this is a frequent question, I thought that a blog about it might be a good idea.

This is the one behavior that seems to really freak people out. Most people erroneously attribute it to dominance. It is important to remember that dominance is NOT a personality trait. It is a term used to describe the outcome of a confrontation over a desired resource. The one that walks away with the resource, is dominant, in that moment. The next confrontation may have an entirely different result.

So let’s get to it, dogs mount for several reasons:

1. Excitement – anything that excites your dog can elicit mounting behavior. A favorite person arriving, the potential for a game or even their favorite snack may cause a mounting session.

2. Play – Dogs mount to entice another dog to interact with them. Occasionally, when two dogs are playing, a third will try to get in on it by mounting one of the players. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

3. Stress/anxiety relief – Some dogs aren’t sure what to do in certain social situations or are so nervous they resort to a comforting behavior, think of nail biting.

4. Social behavior – Dogs sometimes use mounting as a means of controlling another dog.

5. Sex – Yes, sometimes, it is about sex.

Mounting is not an exclusively male behavior. Females often engage in the activity as well. Additionally, the behavior is often directed at members of the same sex. When used in the context of play, excitement or anxiety, the sex of the “mountee” is not important.

So is it ok if they are mounting? The answer lies in the other dog. Does the other dog mind? In other words, are they growling or snapping or trying to get away? Do they turn to play and then take turns mounting? If it happens occasionally during a play session or once in awhile when your dog is very excited, it is no big deal. If it is your dog’s only behavior upon meeting other dogs or people, then you may want to determine what about the situation is either overstimulating or scary.

Will neutering stop mounting? Unfortunately, no. Some of the most dedicated mounters are neutered. There is no scientific evidence to support that neutering will change mounting behavior. If you would like to read more about mounting (and dominance) check out the link below: