Mounting or humping a leg, toy or other animal is a common canine behavior that often begins to manifest during the dog’s first year of life. The action can be sexual or nonsexual in nature, and is often a response to a variety of stimuli. Dogs may hump, growl and bite as a way to test or assert dominance, express anxiety or get attention from their owners. To discourage this activity, put a stop to it the first time it occurs.
Try to figure out when, where and why your dog most often exhibits humping, growling and biting behaviors. For example, if your dog jumps on your leg the minute you return home after a long day at work, he may be showing you he's excited to see you, or that he was anxious during your absence. If your puppy behaves this way when other people visit your home, he may have anxiety around strangers and need to be more properly socialized to feel comfortable in the presence of newcomers. Understanding what's behind the inappropriate behaviors can help you curb it.
Physically remove yourself from your dog's presence as soon as he starts to exhibit leg humping behavior. This establishes you as the dominant decision-maker and shows your pup that the behavior is unacceptable. Say “no” in a stern voice and move to a different room, closing the door behind you. Never physically reprimand your dog for the behavior, which could lead to additional growling, biting and aggression.
As soon as your dog starts to hump your leg, put an end to the behavior by distracting him with a toy or activity. Your dog may need some active play or exercise to release tension. Don't let the behavior continue, even if you or others find it cute or amusing. This will only reinforce the activity and make it an ingrained habit that’s difficult to break. Perform the distraction technique not only when your pup goes at your leg, but also when he attempts the mounting behavior with other people or animals.
While proper obedience training and socialization should help curb your dog's leg humping, growling and biting tendencies, overly aggressive or obsessive behavior should be addressed by a vet. Neutering or spaying your pup can reduce humping related to sexual maturity, while other forms of dominant behavior can be a sign of illness or anxiety that requires additional forms of treatment.
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