What Causes Female Dogs to Hump Things?

by Naomi Millburn
    Humping is not exclusive to male dogs.

    Humping is not exclusive to male dogs.

    George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Picture the scenario: you're ready to serve Sunday night dinner to your brand new neighbors from down the way and your beloved pooch begins humping your leg -- seriously awkward. Although definitely a cringe-inducing situation, mounting behaviors are par for the course for dogs of both genders -- no biggie.


    A reproductively capable female dog may hump on random things -- from your arm to a table leg -- as a means of coping with sexual urges, especially if she's in the middle of her "estrus" or heat cycle. If a dog is engaging in mounting behaviors, she may be expressing that she's ready to mate -- now. Other indications of "heat" in female dogs are bloody or clear vaginal discharge, high tail wagging and a swollen vulva. Getting your dog spayed may eliminate her hormonally charged mounting behaviors, as heat cycles cease in fixed animals.

    Expression of Emotion

    A female dog may not only hump items as a way to indicate sexuality, but also as a simple expression of emotion. A dog may hump on things when she's feeling uncertain, confused, frustrated or nervous as a compulsive pattern similar to obsessive licking or barking. She also may hump things when she's feeling overly excited and enthusiastic about something, whether it's your long-awaited return home after a major business trip or the presence of a lot of new and unfamiliar faces -- hello, sensory overload!


    Your sweet doggie may also hump things as a way of inviting play. Perhaps she's feeling extra energetic and playful and wants to get your undivided attention by mounting your leg. She also may do the same to other pets in your household, whether to cats or fellow dogs. These mounting actions are especially prevalent in canines who lack interactive social experience with their peers.

    Display of Dominance

    Humping on things may also be a declaration of dominance. If you see your dog humping on anything -- whether someone's limb or another pet -- she may be doing so as a way of indicating her power over it. She may be communicating that the other party is her subordinate, and that she is the one in charge -- yikes.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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