Getting a new puppy is such an exciting time. But it may not be quite as exciting for an older dog in the household...or perhaps, it’s too exciting.
Your dog might feel jealous, confused, or overstimulated, and they might even start engaging in some rather odd behavior—like humping the new puppy.
It may seem on the surface like the humping is due to a desire to assert dominance, and that’s absolutely possible. However, there may be other issues at play.
While there are a wide range of reasons that your dog is humping your new puppy, the most common include:
When dogs hump, sometimes they’re just trying to be playful.
Interestingly enough, domesticated animals often maintain the playful traits they had when they were younger. That’s why older dogs can show younger, more playful traits—like humping—when a new puppy is introduced to the home. Sounds pretty innocent, right?
Humping a new puppy could also be a sign of dominance behavior.
While it isn't dangerous, it is recommended that pet parents try discouraging the behavior. It may take time for the two pups to develop their own relationship, so trying to nip this in the bud early on could mean a healthier, more equal relationship down the road.
Some dogs use humping as a way to relieve stress.
If bringing this new furry family member into your home has resulted in some anxiety in your older dog, stress could be the culprit. Engaging in this act is physically pleasurable and can be a way for your dog to decompress.
Humping as an arousal response is typically most common in non-neutered or pre adolescent dogs, so if your pup is older, this is likely not the cause.
However, it’s still not out of the question. Some older dogs still hump other animals or inanimate objects as a form of stimulation.
If your older dog humps objects, people, and other animals frequently, it could indicate that there’s a medical condition present.
Conditions like UTIs, prostate issues, allergies, and incontinence can all lead to incessant humping. It’s important to bring this up with your vet if it seems compulsive and you notice other changes in your dog’s behavior.
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To stop your dog from humping your puppy, pet parents have a few options. The right one for you will depend on the severity and frequency of the situation.
Depending on the cause of the humping, the way to stop it will differ. Your vet can help you understand the best course of action.
For example, when you take your new puppy to the vet within the first few days of bringing them home, the vet will be able to tell whether or not your pup is in a heat cycle. If this is the case and your older dog is not neutered, you’ll want to keep them separate to prevent an unwanted litter. Behavior mounting will be very difficult to stop as long as your puppy’s in heat.
When you notice your dog humping your puppy, you can try redirecting their attention by interrupting with verbal cues or distracting them with a toy. You can even turn it into a training opportunity and include your puppy. Ask them to sit or do a trick and reward them with a treat.
If you’re not always there to redirect your dog’s attention, you may want to create a physical barrier while you figure out what’s going on. This can help you understand if it’s just the puppy your dog is humping, or if they’re doing it to other objects or people as well.
If your older dog is asserting dominance and is otherwise exhibiting normal social behavior, it could be a short-lived thing. The puppy will likely let the dog know it has had enough, or is fed up. Dogs need personal space and boundaries, just like people.
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It’s important to stick to positive reinforcement with both your dog and puppy, and not scold them for unwanted behaviors. The best thing to do when your dog starts humping your new puppy is to consult your vet for advice. They know both your pups’ medical and behavioral history and can point you in the right direction.