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June 10, 2013

Crate Escape at SOWA #3 and What does Dog Humping Really Mean?

Ernestine Leading the Pack Again!
This week I have chosen to share a read that questions if dominance, or alpha exists in dogs. I don’t necessarily need the title, ‘alpha’. As long as you acknowledge that I am the Queen of Crate Escape, it’s all good! Time for my blue ball.

looking left
Later, Ermestone

5 Reasons Dog Humping Does Not Mean Dominance

Humping is a common behavior in dogs and is seen in males and females, whether they are fixed or not. While it is most often attributed to “dominance,” nothing could be further from the truth. Dominance refers to ‘priority access to a resource’, and I have yet to see a dog use humping to gain access to food, toys, space, or anything else tangible. So, why do dogs hump? Here are the most common motivations behind humping in dogs:

1. Arousal
Once a dog hits a certain level of excitement, that energy has to go somewhere. Some dogs express their joy by doing “zoomies,” where they tuck their butt and sprint as fast as they can in circles. Some bark. Some hump.

2. Anxiety
Most humpers whose owners seek help are quite anxious. Anxiety leads to arousal, and as we saw above, that leads to humping. Technically, canine behavior experts call this a “displacement” behavior. When the dog becomes anxious, he or she may scratch, sniff, dig, or hump. People display displacement behaviors too (although luckily humping is not usually one of them!): We check our phones, play with our hair, or look at our watch when we’re in socially uncomfortable situations.

3. Play
Play is interesting. When dogs (or other mammals!) play, they mix up a bunch of behaviors in new sequences. These behaviors have very useful roots: chasing, stalking, and pouncing are useful hunting behaviors; mouthing and wrestling are useful fighting behaviors; and humping is a useful sexual behavior. Some biologists believe that play is practice for the real world. By mixing all of these useful behaviors up with some other signals that mean “just kidding,” dogs get a chance to practice moving their bodies in ways that could increase their chances of surviving a situation where the behaviors were needed for real.

4. Status
While this is a common attribution for humping, dogs almost never use humping as a form of status seeking or as a display of status. In fact, in more than ten years of training, I’ve only met one dog who appeared to use humping as a means of status seeking. (And even in that case, the dog was also pretty insecure, so the humping was more likely caused by her anxiety than by her desire to climb the social ladder.)

5. It just feels good
Frankly, dogs just like to hump sometimes; some dogs will hump a favorite toy or pillow. From a behavioral standpoint, there’s no reason not to let them have a little “me time”, as long as it’s not causing problems. I draw the line at humping people, and if dogs do this owners can redirect them and teach them more appropriate ways to interact with humans.

In conclusion, humping is a normal doggy behavior, albeit a somewhat embarrassing one for those of us on the other end of the leash.
(From Dogster Magazine: Sara Reusche)

Week Number 3 at SOWA Farmer’s Market in the South End
The weather was great for Crate Escape to set up our tent and talk to visitors of the Farmer’s Market about Charlestown Crate Escape! As an added bonus, Vanessa (CE2) and Kate (Charlestown) greeted visitors and told them why we really are the best!

sowa booth

The Booth at SOWA

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