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5 Reasons Why Female Dogs Hump

The author's background includes law enforcement and U.S. military service. She enjoys writing about canine behavior and breeding chickens.

While less common than male dogs, female dog humping can be a problem.

While less common than male dogs, female dog humping can be a problem.

It is true that female dogs are less likely to hump than male dogs, but they do practice the habit from puppyhood well into adulthood. Some people find it cute or funny when a female dog grabs hold of Uncle Ben's leg and starts going to town. In almost every case, the person being accosted is NOT going to find the encounter humorous or entertaining at all. It is rude, unacceptable, and an absolute doggy NO-NO!

Being able to identify which may be afflicting your dog can help prevent doggy humping from occurring at the most inopportune times!

5 Reasons Your Female Dog Is Humping

There are many reasons why dogs hump. In my experience, these are the top five causes that have female dogs in a "Wednesday kind of mood" (yes, that was a hump day reference).

  • To express dominance over a person or thing
  • To express dominance over litter or packmates
  • To feel stimulation on a sexual level
  • To relieve irritated genitals
  • Because it has become an addiction

These five reasons will be discussed, and a couple of behavior modification techniques will be provided to help curb the need your canine bitch has for humping.

A dominant bitch will want to have the final say in how she travels. But it is up to you to keep her safe. No doggy heads outside of car windows!

A dominant bitch will want to have the final say in how she travels. But it is up to you to keep her safe. No doggy heads outside of car windows!

1. Expressing Dominance Over a Person or Thing

Does Humping Mean My Dog Thinks She Is the Boss?

In a word, yes. The practice of canine humping gives the term "top dog" real meaning. When a female dog humps a person or thing, it can be to claim the dominant position or ranking over said person or thing. Even as humping is an inherent behavior in all dogs, the action can manifest from stress, anxiety, emotional outbursts, or as an invitation to start playing. How each encounter of humping begins depends entirely on the dog's emotional status when the event is triggered.

Dog-to-Human Dominance Must Be Stopped!

It is important to know that should your female dog (or any dog) practice "humping for dominance" on humans, it must be resolved and discontinued promptly. The dog has to respect that ALL humans are the dominant pack member and "top dog" in every situation and at all times. This status is never to be challenged by the dog (including children). If your dog is acting out in this manner—humping one particular member of the family—an immediate behavior modification is in order.

2. Expressing Dominance Over Litter or Packmates

Puppy Socialization and Humping

When a female puppy humps a littermate, it can be for a couple of reasons.

First, it is clear that puppies really like to play, and humping—being inherent in all dogs—is just part of that play experience.

Second, humping helps puppies to orient sexual behavior for adulthood. It teaches them the interactions, appropriate techniques, and dominant placement for later breeding.

Both of these tactics are needed for a female pup to become a well-socialized bitch, and with proper occurrence and timing, is it vital in sustaining the successful reproduction of the species.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Humping Behavior in Puppies

Even as humping has its place in the development of well-adjusted dogs, it can become an obsession if allowed to deviate from normal social behavior. If you recognize that a puppy is becoming too captivated by the behavior, you must divert her attention to something else. This is done simply by interrupting the obsession with a toy, task commands, or some other attention-grabber. Avoid being too harsh with your corrections, and keep it fun for the puppy. After all is said and done, you don't want to create a new negative behavior while curbing another.

Never take a female dog who is  in heat to the dog park! This can cause a frenzy of misbehavior among normally obedient dogs.

Never take a female dog who is in heat to the dog park! This can cause a frenzy of misbehavior among normally obedient dogs.

3. To Feel Stimulation on a Sexual Level

Female Dogs Hump Because It Feels Good

This should not be too surprising; female dogs hump because they like the way it feels. This would seem more likely attributed to male dogs, because humping is considered a sexually dimorphic behavior, when in actuality it is regularly seen in both sexes. (Sexual dimorphism is the difference in morphology between male and female members of the same species. Sexual dimorphism includes differences in size, coloration, or body structure between the sexes. It is most noticeably seen in the fact that a male lion has a mane, whereas a female does not.)

When female dogs come into heat, the behavior can quickly become a "hump-palooza" throughout the pack, resulting in everyone humping someone or something. Dog parks, for our domesticated pets, can replace this pack mentality in a flash. Should a single female show up at the dog park while in heat, an almost instant change in dog dynamics is sure to take place. Caution in such situations should be taken, as fights resulting in injury can occur (to dogs as well as their humans). Also, with this frenzy of behavior, Fifi may have some explaining to do 63 days later when a few new puppy muzzles show up at the pet food dish!

4. To Relieve Irritated Genitals

Dogs Hump Because Stuff Gets Itchy

If your girl dog is suffering from irritation in her genital area, humping may result as a way to soothe the problem. But there is an issue that can accompany this particular cause: in some cases, by conducting the soothing (humping) action, the results can end in obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD). Here's why: Should irritation in the genital region go unrecognized and untreated, it can turn into a serious problem for the dog physically and emotionally. It can become a circle of never-ending bad behavior—the irritation makes things itchy, the dog humps to resolve the itch, pleasure replaces the itching, the dog's brain gets looped into relating the pleasurable feeling with the humping, and the whole thing runs full circle over-and-over again. The only way to fix this is to treat the physical ailment, and then break the OCD habit over time. A good old-fashioned Water-Bottle-of-Obedience (a squirt bottle full of water) may be helpful in redirecting the dog's attention elsewhere.

OCD is not uncommon among retrieving breeds of dogs; fetching until they drop is an indicator. These same female dogs can become addicted to humping quite easily.

OCD is not uncommon among retrieving breeds of dogs; fetching until they drop is an indicator. These same female dogs can become addicted to humping quite easily.

5. It Has Become an Addiction

My Female Dog Has a Humping Addiction—Time for Rehab!

Just like any other reason a being would become addicted to something, dogs get addicted to humping because it makes their brain pump out chemicals that say, "Yowza! This is great stuff!" Spaying your dog is unlikely to stop the addiction, but it can reduce the craving because of the "reproductive" nature of the act. Less hormones screaming, "breed!" to your female dog can certainly give you an edge in rehabilitating her.

Below you will find behavior modifications that may help to rehabilitate your female dog's humping addiction. This takes time, so enlisting your highest degree of patience is recommended.

Modification Techniques for Female Dogs That Hump

  1. Avoid mean-spirited or harsh correction techniques. In such instances, a gentle hand will bring greater success and in a shorter amount of time.
  2. Teach your addicted dog "task" commands; sit, stay, seek, fetch, settle, hunt for the toy—or anything else that she likes to do.
  3. When the humping behavior rears its ugly head, use the task commands to divert her attention.
  4. A squirt bottle filled with water can surprise a dog into discontinuing her humping. This should be done from a distance, creating an "act of God" diversion. Your dog will associate the discomfort and startling strike of water to an unknown source, which brings a fast behavior revising result. (The bonus is that the discipline is not related to you in any way, but is considered an "act of God" to your dog.)
  5. When one person is being singled out for humping, the dog is directly challenging that person for a ranking pack position. To resolve this behavior, this person should be the only human to feed the dog for at least a full month. When the dog realizes that she must rely solely on this person for food, her challenge will simply end along with the dominant humping behavior toward this person.

Takeaway Points for Curbing Female Dog Humping

When your female dog has become fixated on humping, it can become embarrassing, to say the least. Curbing the behavior through diversion, calm respectful dominant leadership, and maybe a squirt or two of liquid Behavior-Modification can turn the situation into a thing of the past.

No matter the modification technique you employ, if the behavior continues regardless of your efforts, it is important to check in with your vet. The humping habit may contain an underlying cause that only your veterinarian can detect and treat effectively!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 India Arnold

Please comment.

Emma on April 11, 2016:

We have two female dogs, both the same age give or take a few weeks (around one and a half years now). One is the BoxerxBeagle Indie that we adopted from a rescue place, and the other is my sister's Bull-ArabxDeer-Hound Zoey that she saved from death-row and whom was a street dog and we wholly believe was abused as a puppy). Both are fixed, and naturally sweet and gentle dogs, although they have their play-fights and have been known to terrorise the local wildlife.

Recently, when my sister (whom Zoey just clung to like a lifeline) has been going out heaps and we think 'neglecting' Zoey (unintentionally). Zoey has recently taken to, albeit very very rarely, humping Indie and we reckon that it may be stress or dominance. I know that she can't hurt Indie because she is a female, but, it must be a bit disconcerting for Indie. Or, is it a normal thing?

I have taken to spending as much time as what I can with the two ladies (I did anyway) because my sister is possibly moving across the world in four weeks. Will Zoey try to 'dominate' Indie more once my sister - her saviour - moves away?

carol on January 26, 2016:

come on people... if you have an itch scratch it. If a dog needs anykind of relief let it happen. Prudes you guys. I'd never be imbarrassed of what my dogs needs are. If she needs to hump my leg for gratification let it be.... mostly done at home she will never do it in public. dogs do have pride. I know that people get inbarrassed.. then don't look.. you're the same kind of people that find it rude to breast feed in public. Life should be natural and NOT judged...

Mandy on October 30, 2015:

My English is not good but This hub is a help for me, We have a size like a pony dog And its weird for me when I saw her humping my sons leg. I will try to use the bottle spray when she hump my 14 year old sons leg again.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on January 28, 2015:

We rescued a 3-4 year old Beagle who had been a stray. No one knew how long she'd been on the streets. This behavior was definitely about dominance. We understood it was a result of running with other street dogs and surviving. We broke her of it pretty quickly with voice commands, but every once in a while she'll still revert to it with a new person, especially a child or someone she senses is passive. Someone told me it takes a year for a rescue dog to adjust if they have been a stray. What do you think?

Tammy Winters from Oregon on December 30, 2014:

Interesting Hub here... my male dog is the one with problem lol

L.A. DiNardi from New Hampshire on November 03, 2014:

Great article! My female dog, now almost 13 years old, used to hum p for dominance in the house. She learned not to by hand commands and the word "off". We reinforced with treats and this works. She will still on occasion try to hump me, usually if I am gone for a long period of time, almost as if she is telling me she misses me. When she does it, she immediately stops when I tell her "off". Thank you for sharing!

Kristy from Indiana on July 13, 2014:

Some real funny and interesting info here!

Cecilia Khoo on December 13, 2013:

My baby girl "coco" always do it with the pillow only when I leave her alone for my shower or I went to sleep. Maybe like you said she is play or try to be funny or try to have attention from me. Sometime! No she always makes me feel so sorry that she is alone all day when I go to work. Only Sunday have more time for her.

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on November 25, 2013:

LOL, it made me laugh but it was a really interesting analysis. I've always had female dogs and they always hump. This might seem odd, but my last dog used to hump empty 2-liter bottles of soda we left near the trash and I always thought she did it because it felt good, hehehe.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on July 21, 2013:

Thanks for the help. I just got my daughter a bitty little female dog and she is humping my 16 year old daughter. I will show her the tips for stopping it and have her do that. My daughter does not enjoy this at all. I have had dogs my whole life and never had to deal with this, so I had no ideas.

Carrol on June 19, 2013:

I adopted my mom's 4 year old female rat terrier and had her spayed. Before spaying, she did not care for other dogs at all. After, she responds like an intact male to a female in heat, and she climbs on top of our spayed golden retriever and rides her like a cowboy monkey, intermittantly stopping to smell the golden's vulva. I saw her girl parts spasmodically contracting like she was experiencing orgasm afterward. Sort of embarrassing. Have you heard of this sort of thing? She was spayed in February and just had a breast tumor removed. The cone of shame has not crushed her mojo.

seanorjohn on December 18, 2012:

This makes a lot of sense. I never understood why some bitches humped. Do you think it is true that it is more common in some breeds than others/ Voted up and interesting.

Shelly Wyatt from Maryland on December 18, 2012:

Nice hub, I recently rescued a female pomeranian she is insisting on humping my other two male pomeranians and they hate it. I will definitely try the water technique! Thanks for the info.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on November 26, 2012:

Hayley~ If you don't mind her humping your arm, and the action makes you feel "flattered" then I guess you are indeed, made for each other. I wish you luck, happiness, and a long full life with your furry friend.


Hayley on November 25, 2012:

I don't find your answers helpful. They don't apply to my situation at all. I have a spayed female rat terrier chihuahua mix who constantly humps my arm. I adopted her from a shelter last year, but she just started to do this maybe a month ago. She will mount and hump my arm several times an hour. She is very sweet, attached to me (no pun intended) and has never expressed aggression or dominance toward me. She doesn't hump anyone one else except on rare occasions her neutered male rat terrier buddy. So far i have not been able to find an explanantion as to why she does this. It doesn't bother me and i don't discourage it because i don't think its harmful. Just funny and cute. I guess i should be flattered since maybe it means she loves me best? She is always by my side.

Nell Rose from England on September 09, 2012:

Having had various dogs that decided my leg was quite attractive I can totally understand it now! lol! seriously though, fascinating stuff, and great info, nell

Mary Hyatt from Florida on September 09, 2012:

Another great article on dogs and their behaviors. My female Schnauzer

will hump on rare occasions when she gets really excited from us playing with her on the floor. We just tell her to stop, and she does.

I voted this Hub UP, etc.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on March 28, 2012:

Am I glad I came across this one. Your article really helped me to better understand our dog's behavior. Thanks! Rated up / useful and interesting.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 24, 2012:

My female dog humps my male. I've always know that she is showing dominance over him. She knows she is the leader of the pack and never lets him forget it. Excellent hub!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on March 13, 2012:

Robin~You make a good point regarding large dogs. In my experience, when a large dog takes this assertive dominant action towards humans it is far more intimidating than when a small breed dog does the same thing. Thus, humans will naturally quell the habit or challenge straight away. I guess it is far less humerus to watch a 5-foot tall dog (on hind legs) assert such behavior over a person of the same height, making the importance of modification paramount! The lesser threat (a 4 pound female Pomeranian) raises far less concern. And I am with you - thank God!

Thank you so much for taking time away from your busy schedule to read, honored on my end!

Super Big HubHugs~

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on March 13, 2012:

Earth Angel~ Gotta say, I'm impressed with the old gals spirit! Sounds as if your cocker spaniel male is a pretty smart guy when it comes to the girls...he-he!(or possible a gentlemen). I agree with you, adding hormones to the mix will surely raise the flags of misbehavior in any dog! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and time here today, I could not be more pleased to see you!


India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on March 13, 2012:

Global-Chica~ Sounds like you had your cocker spaniel under control when it came to respecting you! I have a real disdain for dogs who hump humans, modifying the behavior takes precedence over all else for me. I am so thrilled that you enjoyed the read, and for the votes!


India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on March 13, 2012:

rebeccamealey~ So glad you liked the hub. Every female dog may have a slip every now and again with the action of humping; making sure it doesn't become an habitual thing is the key. Thanks for sharing your comments here, I am very grateful!


Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on March 13, 2012:

Very well done! I'm not sure if it's just me, but I rarely see large dogs showing this behavior with humans, it's usually the smaller ones. We have a female German Shepherd that is an alpha, but she hasn't ever done this - thank God!

Earth Angel on March 13, 2012:

GREAT Hub K9! I sometimes pet-sit for a friend's 15 year old spayed very fragile beloved apricot poodle who is on tons of medication for her comfortable end of life care! Out of the blue, barely able to walk sometimes and suffering from congestive heart failure, she took up humping my 5 year old fixed energetic male cocker spaniel - easily three times her size! And Mr. Alpha LOVED it! Turns out some of her medicines contain strong hormones ~ another reason female dogs hump! GREAT Hub! Blessings to you dearest one! Earth Angel!

Anna from New York, NY on March 13, 2012:

Great hub with lots of useful tips! I will definitely be referencing your articles when I get my KCC :) I had a cocker spaniel growing up for 14 years, the sweetest dog but when he was a puppy, he was amazed with humping people and things but with time, we diverted his attention, like you suggest here, by throwing him his favorite toy or asking him to do a command and he stopped doing it. Voted up and useful!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 12, 2012:

Very interesting information, and a fantastic Hub. I have two females both "fixed". One is the sibling of my daughter's dog and she has humped a few times but not to the extreme.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on March 12, 2012:

livelonger~ So nice to see you today! (Big smile for K9!) Honored that you found the information worth your time! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the hub. I appreciate that you got the underlying humor, with this type of topic I thought it may help ease the read.

Huge HubHugs and Shalom my Friend~

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on March 12, 2012:

Fascinating Hub! We had a male dog when we were kids who would hump all the time, but I did not know about female dogs doing it. Your explanations make perfect sense. I have to say you treated this topic with depth but also humor. Very well done! HubHugs and Shalom!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on March 12, 2012:

Alexadry~ I have always followed the hubs you create on dogs, outstanding to say the least. So to have you give one of mine the "thumbs-up" means the world! I really think that the only true way to manage the anxiety outbursts you describe in your comment is through diversionary behavior mod techniques. Your results, as you state, 'over time' are the proof. Thank you so much for making it by to share your thoughts, I am honored you found time.


Adrienne Farricelli on March 12, 2012:

Great hub!One of my foster dogs humped out of anxiety, luckily the behavior was replaced with time by an alternate behavior I incorporated in her behavior modification program. She stopped humping altogether as she overcome her anxiety.