Humping: Why Dogs Do It (cont.)

When Your Dog Just Won't Stop Humping

There are some cases where dogs just don't want to stop. Deva Joy Gouss of Atlanta saved a group of dogs from a shelter 11 years ago, including Samme, a terrier mix. Samme has always humped, Gouss says, a behavior that prevented her from being adopted.

"I had a lady come to see about adopting her and Samme climbed up in the chair and started humping her head," Gouss said.

Gouss, a social worker who often holds therapy sessions at her house, says Samme has interrupted sessions with her behavior, including climbing into the lap of one patient and humping. "I tell her to stop and she will, but just for a few minutes," Gouss says.

Concerned at first, Gouss took Samme to several veterinarians to find out if she had an infection or irritation that was causing her to hump so much. But the vets found nothing wrong.

So over the years Gouss has just learned to live with the behavior. And Samme has calmed down some as she's aged, although Gouss attributes some of that to the arthritis Samme has in her lower back.

Breaking the Humping Cycle

Some types of humping are easier to deal with than others, the experts say. When a dog is humping a person, the person should just get up and walk away, which teaches the dog that this is an unacceptable behavior. When they mount other dogs, owners should separate them, and keep the dogs apart when they can't be supervised.

But when dogs hump objects, such as pillows or toys, it can be a very difficult habit to break, Spiegel says. In those cases, he recommends keeping the dogs on a strict schedule, which lessens anxiety, and giving them lots of exercise, so they are too tired to get into trouble.

There also are medications that can help dogs with obsessive/compulsive tendencies, he says.

And if all else fails, let the dog have its favorite pillow or toy once or twice a day, in private, he says. "Some dogs are just more sexually driven," Spiegel says. "But in our culture it's not acceptable to let your dog hump other dogs or people. It's rude."

SOURCES: Lois Gross, owner of dogs, Taz, Ma,x and Sadie, Atlanta.

David S. Spiegel, VMD, owner of a behavioral veterinary practice, Swarthmore, Pa.

Gary Landsberg, DVM; diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, veterinary behaviorist in Ontario, Canada.

Debbie Sampson, owner of dogs, Moose, Lulu and Max, Canton, Ga.

Deva Joy Gouss, owner of Samme, Atlanta.

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