What Does It Mean When Male Dogs Hump Your Leg?

by Naomi Millburn
    Mounting behavior is by no means uncommon in dogs.

    Mounting behavior is by no means uncommon in dogs.

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    One of the most awkward aspects of dog ownership is -- you may have guessed it -- the leg humping. Mounting actions are especially embarrassing when you have visitors in your home -- eek. The good news is that mounting behavior in dogs is 100 percent normal and common.

    A dog humping your leg is often a display of sexuality -- essentially an outlet for dealing with strong sexual urges. Nothing much more complicated than that. Don't assume that your dog is specifically "attracted" to you or your leg, however. Remember that dogs often hump on everything from toys to table legs -- anything that is easy to grab and hold. Not a lot of discretion going on there. Although humping might be especially prevalent in unneutered male dogs, it's also relatively common in fixed canines as well as female dogs in heat.

    Although leg humping may seem overtly sexual in nature, the behavior isn't always necessarily brought on by that need. A dog's leg mounting sometimes is a display of dominance over another. If your dog humps your leg, he may essentially be communicating to you that he's the boss and that you're his subordinate -- yikes. This power-motivated behavior is also very common between dogs.

    In some situations, a dog may hump a leg as a simple display of playfulness and attention-seeking, kind of like an invitation to a "play" party. Your dog may even mount your leg as a means of easing his stress -- poor thing, and poor you, too. Dogs often do this to other canines, as well.

    An excess of energy and excitement may also compel a dog to hump on a person's leg -- or anything else, for that matter. Whether your dog is feeling nervous and stressed out by the loud sounds of movers carrying large furniture items out of your home or is excited by your return after a long work trip across the country, he may just respond to that feeling by mounting.

    Excessive leg humping may also be a sign of compulsion in dogs. If your dog's mounting seems obsessive and almost like second nature to him, it may be a result of a compulsive issue, similar to constant barking or licking problems. Compulsive problems may arise for a variety of different reasons, including stress, isolation, insufficient socialization and even abuse.

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    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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