Mounting and Masturbation in Dogs (cont.)
Medical Problems to Rule Out
Various medical problems, including urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, priapism (persistent, often painful erections) and skinallergies, can influence a dog's mounting behavior. These issues can be serious if not properly treated and require medical attention rather than behavioral treatment. Dogs suffering from one of these or other medical issues often spend a lot of time licking and chewing the genital area. If you notice your dog excessively mounting, licking or chewing himself, or rubbing his body against things, take him to a veterinarian to rule out medical concerns.
What to Do About Excessive Mounting and Masturbation
If you think your dog may become aggressive if you stop him from mounting other dogs, people or objects, do not attempt to do so. Instead, consult a qualified professional, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or Associate CAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB). If you can't find a behaviorist in your area, you can seek help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but be sure to determine whether she or he has professional training and extensive experience successfully treating aggression. This type of expertise isn't required for CPDT certification. Please read our article, Finding Professional Help, for information about finding one of these experts in your area.
Mounting During Play, in Response to Stress or for Sexual Reasons
Discouragement by itself won't prevent mounting from reoccurring. You must also do some preventative training. You'll need to teach your dog a behavior that he can perform instead of mounting when he's around people-something that he can't do while humping. Train him to sit on cue, for example. After your dog readily sits for a treat when you ask him to, you can start using that skill to discourage humping. As soon as you see your dog start to mount, say “Sit.” If he sits, praise him happily and reward him with a tasty treat. Then you can ask him to sit a few more times or perform other tricks he already knows. When your dog has performed some polite behaviors and calmed down a little, you can offer him few minutes of play with a favorite toy. This may alter your dog's motivational state so that he's no longer interested in humping. If the humping occurs in specific contexts, such as in response to exciting or chaotic interactions between people (hugging, greeting, arguing, etc.), ask your dog to sit and stay whenever you do the things that trigger his mounting behavior. Remember to reward your dog frequently if he behaves politely instead of mounting.
If your dog only mounts when dealing with stressful situations (greeting new people, for example), avoid those situations whenever possible. If you can't avoid a situation or thing that makes your dog anxious, try to reduce his stress as much as you can. For instance, if your dog finds visiting the veterinary clinic stressful, take him to the clinic for frequent social visits. During these trips to the vet's office, give your dog plenty of tasty treats and make sure that nothing unpleasant happens. After a few weeks or months of occasional “cookie trips” to the vet's office, your dog will start to enjoy going there. That change in his feelings will make future visits to the veterinary clinic much less stressful for him. If your dog becomes anxious when he greets new people, distract him when he encounters strangers so that the experience is less overwhelming for him. Try teaching your dog to sit for delicious goodies or fetch his favorite toy when new people visit your home.