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Does Size Matter? Humping a Much Smaller Dog

Dogs often hump each other. But what if a 25-pound dog is humping a 6-pound dog? Learn when it’s okay to let dogs hump, and when you should step in.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #193

Neutering Fred may make Ralph less likely to hump him, and neutering Ralph may leave him less hormonally inclined to hump. But once a behavior pattern is learned, it doesn’t just vanish, even if its origins lie in hormones long gone. So even though the dogs should be neutered, don’t rely on that alone to change things.

Encourage the Dogs to Interact Appropriately

Once Ralph and Fred are set up for success, though, we can hope Ralph’s pesky humping will drop off. Lee and Jim can praise the dogs in soft, happy voices when they play appropriately. My episode on how to tell whether dogs are playing or fighting can help Lee and Jim judge what they’re seeing. Also praise the dogs when they’re just hanging out and paying no special attention to each other.

Sometimes it’s good to interrupt even appropriate play every couple of minutes. Dogs may become over-excited during play, so it’s all fun and games right up to the moment when it isn’t. You can see the same thing happen between toddlers at the playground! Call the dogs away from each other, ask them to sit, give them each a treat, and then send them back to play some more. You can also attach a foot of light cord to their collars so you can gently lead them away from each other without grabbing at them.

Whenever Ralph starts to hump, interrupt him right away. No grabbing or yelling! Just draw him away with that light cord you’ve already attached to his collar and park him in his crate or behind a baby gate for a minute or so till he settles down. A sign to watch for is a “shake-off,” as if he was shaking off water after a walk in the rain. Dogs shake off when they’re returning to a more relaxed state after being agitated or stressed. By the way, if Fred starts to follow Ralph or harasses him during his break, then Fred needs a break too. No payback allowed!

That brings to an end this edition of The Dog Trainer’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Couples Counseling. For more about teaching and living with your dog, check out my book, The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet. I’m The Dog Trainer on Facebook, and you can also write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and though I can’t reply individually, I may use them as the basis for future articles. Thanks for reading!

 
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About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).