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Humping

Poodle Humping

Overview

Humping is something may seem very natural for dogs to do; however, it's often something that owners really wished their dogs didn't do! It can take some owners by surprise especially when a very young Poodle humps and it can be particularly odd if a Poodle humps all sorts of strange things. 

This section will cover what sort of humping is normal for a Poodle, why dogs do this and if you should or should not intervene. 

What is Humping?

There is a bit more to this than one may at first think. Though humping is done between a male and female during the act of intercourse in mating, humping itself is just the act of a dog mounting something and making a thrusting motion. This is so whether it is another dog (of either gender) or an inanimate object.  If this does not entail a male mounting a female, humping is a form of masturbation. 

Facts about Humping

  • Both female and male dogs hump. However, males may do this more often than females. 
  • A male may hump another male and a female may hump another female. This does not mean that a dog is confused about his or her gender.
  • A Poodle puppy as young as 5 or 6 weeks old may hump; when this happens, it is not due to an urge to mate or related to sexual urges in any way.
  • Even if a dog is spayed or neutered, he or she may still hump; this said, this sort of behavior is often reduced. 
  • A Poodle may start out humping for one reason, but it can develop into a habit. 

The 6 Reasons Why a Poodle May Hump

There are 6 main reasons why a Poodle of any age or gender may hump. Here, we'll take a look at this from most likely to possible but more rare:

1) Mating urges. While there are indeed other reasons, this is the most common.  Even neutered males may still hump; though much of the urge may be taken away some can still remain. This is because while the testicles are removed for the procedure, the adrenal glands can produce varying amounts of testosterone. And this can cause a neutered male Poodle to still develop erections. 

Spayed females rarely hump.  Unfixed females often do however, and this is due to strong hormonal urges. They may hump other dogs, stuffed animals and other objects. 

2) Play behavior.  Just about every dog of every age other than seniors love to physically play with other dogs. Humping during play can begin very young, as early as 5 or 6 weeks old.  A young pup may hump his littermates. Then, the behavior may appear to cease once he's in his new home, only to appear again as he matures or if another dog is brought into the mix.

During play, males and females will hump same and opposite genders. And it can be surprising how a tiny dog like a toy Poodle can attempt to hump a larger one like a standard Poodle. 

In most cases of humping during playtime, the canine instinct to show dominance is often at the root of this, so you may notice that the 'Alpha' dog of a pair or group is the one that tries to mount others.  
3) Improper hierarchy.  No matter if you have a small companion lap dog like a toy Poodle or a massive German Shepherd watch dog, dogs see the world in the same way. There is a ranking order.

Within in the den (house) where the pack (humans and pets) live, there is an Alpha(s) (leaders) that rule over the Betas (dogs or anyone ranking lower than the leaders).

Huge problems can emerge if a Poodle mistakenly believes that he is the Alpha or if he is trying to take over that position. One of the ways that he (or less commonly, she) does this is by humping his owner.

It's often done to the owner's leg, both when the human is standing or sitting. 

4) Stress. Canines are very complex animals, capable of feeling a wide range of emotions. If a Poodle has been having chronic issues that are causing him to feel stressed (separation anxiety, very loud chaotic household, etc.) or if there is a sudden disturbing event (anything from a bad trip to the groomers to the sudden loss of a playmate), this can cause the dog to hump as a way to release tension. 
5) Compulsive habit. While not one of the more common reasons, a Poodle actually may be humping everything in sight due to a developed habit. What at first started out as something else, can get a dog stuck in a loop. 

Humping felt good, so the dog did it. However, with this, a Poodle may be humping based on a compulsive drive, and may not even find it to be pleasurable any longer. 

6) Health issues. Anytime that a dog has a strong itch or a feeling of discomfort, he may try to scratch or touch the area. If there is something wrong in or around the genital area, a dog may hump objects in an attempt to scratch or soothe the problem.

Common are dry skin issues, yeast infection. UTI, and the like. 

What to do if Your Poodle is Humping

First look to possible health issues. Before you look for ways to stop your Poodle puppy or dog from humping, it is important to rule out any underlying health issues that may be causing this.

While you can inspect the genital area for any signs of redness, dry skin, rashes or swelling, if you do suspect a UTI or other related issue, this will need to be diagnosed by the veterinarian. 

Both male and female dogs can develop a UTI, bladder or kidney issue. Top signs include issues with urination. This would be straining to pee, frequent urination, signs of discomfort while urinating, and/or licking at the area. In some cases, the urine may have a bad smell and/or be an off-color. 

Signs of a yeast infection in or around the genital area include itching, black, gray or red specks on the skin, a rust color appearing on hairs there,  and/or a very bad strong musty smell. 

Should You Try to Stop a Poodle From Humping?

While humping can be a perfectly natural act and if your Poodle only humps now-and-again this should not be considered to be a problem, there are valid reasons to intervene if a Poodle is humping consistently:

1. As mentioned above, an underlying health issue is an possibility. 

2. Also as mentioned, this can be due to or exasperated by stress, so if this may be part of the cause, this should be resolved. 

3. Other dogs often can get irritated if another humps them and may lash out defensively. 

4. It can turn into quite a habit, both causing a dog to be stuck in loop of this behavior and/or humping so much that it is embarrassing to owners. 

5. If your Poodle routinely humps you or other humans, this can destroy the concept of proper hierarchy. Once that breaks down, all sorts of behavioral issues can set in such as excessive barking, not listening to commands, overly hyper behavior and more. 

How to Stop a Poodle from Humping

With any possible health issues ruled out and if a Poodle is humping so much that the behavior is a disruption to the household and/or threatening proper rank between humans and dogs, there are some things that you can do:

1. Consider spaying or neutering your Poodle. While some fixed dogs do indeed hump, this by far cuts down on this behavior more than anything else. Without hormones ruling how a dog acts, this can greatly reduce the urges. In addition, it has added benefits aside from preventing unplanned pregnancies such as lower cancer rates. 

Do keep in mind that while there are some conflicting studies, overall veterinarians do agree that spaying and neutering does increase life expectancy. 

2. Assess the house for stress triggers. Each dog is unique. With some Poodles, such things as loud TVs and/or music, lots of people coming and going can cause the dog to feel stressed out. And of course, dogs often take to heart any yelling or other disturbances.

If you feel that the household is a bit chaotic, do try to keep things more peaceful. And offering your Poodle his own little retreat (indoor canine playpen, comfortable dog bed) can help as it gives him somewhere to go if he wants to rest away from noise or foot traffic. 

3. Establish yourself as leader. You know that you are in charge, but does your Poodle know? Are you sure? This is something that many owners don't think about, since they assume the proper relationship is already there.

One of the best methods is to expect an obeyed 'Sit' command before any food (both meal or snack) is given. 
4. Teach commands. A really well-trained dog will immediately listen to a 'Stop' or a 'Sit'. Once taught and understood, this can be given any time that a Poodle starts humping. 

5. Distraction.  If a Poodle is humping a pillow, stuffed animal or any other inanimate objects, this method often works. 

Luckily, dogs can get distracted rather easily and this can be done to stop him as soon as he starts humping. You'll want to first effectively interrupt him by loudly clapping or shaking a can or coins (this is much more preferable over shouting a 'No!', which is reserved for humping another pet or a person, see #6) 

Once you have his attention, led him to a new activity. This can be an interesting toy or a quick game of fetch to put his focus on something else. 

If your Poodle has a rather severe humping problem, it's recommended to obtain some new toys that engage him and only use these during these times. 
6. For humping visitors to your home, or if your Poodle humps you, other family members, or another pet, a reprimand often works best. 

For this, you will want to have a time out area already established. This can be a small gated off area in which the dog cannot reach anyone but can see the family (if not, he will not realize he is in a time-out). Do not use a crate; these are much too confining, claustrophobic and can increase a dog's stress level to such a degree that things get much worse. 

Give a sharp, authoritative 'No!', followed by a short time out. When your Poodle is segregated in this area, he should be temporarily ignored. So, no speaking to him or reprimanding for barking and no reaching over to pet, etc. 

How long a dog should be in his time-out depends on how long it takes him to notice that he is not being included. It can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. And you'll want to go out 10 minutes passed that point.

When he is released, if he repeats the humping, back in he goes. If not, give a small treat. 
6. For humping other dogs outside of the home, things will be a bit different. Plan ahead by having your Poodle on leash and harness (not collar) so that you can tug him away safely and without any concerns for neck injury.

If he is playing with another dog (and do allow this or lessons cannot be learned) and he starts to hump him/her, give an authoritative 'No!', pull him toward you to remove him from the other dog and then lead him a good 15 to 20 feet away as a time out. 

After 5 to 7 sessions of this sort of reaction to his humping, most dogs will learn that fun playtime ends if they hump and will chose to refrain from the behavior so that they are allowed to interact with other canines. 
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