Canine Behavior/Humping

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Question
Hi Jody,

I have a 4 year old unaltered male Yorkie.  Today I purchased a 7 week old female chihuahua.

He followed her around when I brought her home and kept sniffing her.  Hours later, he decided to start humping a blanket that was on the couch.  I went to stop him from humping the blanket only to find out he had ejaculated all over it.  His penis was still out and the bulb was swollen.  It was out for about 15 minutes until I put him in the empty bath tub so he wouldn't get his semen all over the floor as it was still coming out.

I have my new puppy in a closed crate when she is sleeping and he will just stand by it and stare at it.

This isn't the first time he has humped the blanket.  A few weeks ago I found a dog on the back porch who was neutered.  My Yorkie still sniffed the other dog and then humped the blanket, however, I did not see his penis out.  I returned this dog to the owner the next day.

I do not understand why this is happening. My neighbor brings his dog for play dates many times a week. His dog is a female chihuahua and she is spayed.  My Yorkie does not react this way when she comes over.

This seems to only happen with new dogs.

Why is he doing this? Anyway to stop this behavior from happening?

Thank you,

Lawrence

Answer
Some dogs (males and females) are very excited by the presence of new dogs. When male dogs are aroused (not specifically sexually, just excited), they often become partially erect. In fact, the technical term for the partial exposure of the penis is called "Crowning." Canine behaviorists use this as one indicator of the level of arousal a male dog is experiencing. That arousal could be excitement, anger, stress or fear. Because it it's an indicator of over-arousal/over-stimulation, we often say "if you see pink, he can't think" meaning he's too excited/distracted for good learning to occur. The more pink you see, clearly, the more excited/distracted the dog is.

In your case, your dog is very excited by the presence of new dogs. This is normal. Humping is a normal social behavior that indicates excitement/over-stimulation - it does not necessarily mean a sexual interest. A dog's sexual interest requires the presence of a female in heat (or very near heat) because it's dictated by hormones/pheromones. I don't believe that your dog was actively sexually aroused.

That said, once a dog is excited/aroused (over stimulated), the humping motion is an instinctive behavioral response to the excitement and in dogs is often strictly social in nature. Depending on the circumstances, dogs (male and female) will mount/hump another dog in an effort to control the movements of others if they're feeling overwhelmed and want to calm the environment. Occasionally it's about making the rules or being in charge. The penis may or may not be exposed during these encounters. Your dog turned to his favorite blanket - probably a favorite/familiar item he has practiced this behavior on before. That lends support that this was not actually a sexual response, but rather a social one. Humping the blanket is soothing and feels good. It may sound crass, but some dogs do actually masturbate. it's a perfectly normal behavior and not something to be terribly concerned about unless it becomes obsessive or the dog looks like he's in pain when doing it.

Your dog was very excited by the presence of the new puppy, took to his blanket to get out some of that pent up excitement/energy and actually ejaculated. Once the dog ejaculates, the bulb gland swells and remains so for anywhere from 5-30 minutes. During mating this is called 'the tie'. Nature does this to give that male's sperm a good chance at reaching the female's eggs before she can mate with any other dog. So, the swelling you saw after he ejaculated is absolutely normal, as is the amount of time it took to resolve.

One way to curb this behavior a bit would be to neuter your male. It will not eliminate the behavior because it's not entirely a sexual behavior, but it may reduce some of that over excitement simply because he'll have less testosterone in his system. Further, if he does become excited and masturbate to orgasm, there will be a lot less mess because the testicles are gone and so the amount of ejaculate is dramatically reduced.

As your dog gets comfortable with the new puppy, I expect he will relax and feel less of a need to hump his blanket.

If this behavior is an issue with other dogs - meeting strange dogs while out in public - you could work on his response using a protocol called Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT). You work this protocol by keeping your dog far enough away from the trigger (strange dogs) so that he's aware of the dog, but not concerned by him, then we teach him an alternative behavior choice (other than humping), by using a functional reward (something in the real world that he finds equally satisfying as the humping). There's a good book that will walk you through this protocol called

Behavior Adjustment Training: BAT for fear, frustration & aggression , by Grisha Stewart. If you feel like you need assistance in how to implement this protocol with your dog, I encourage you to find a local trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques. Ideally someone who is familiar with BAT training or who is willing to learn the protocol to work with you.
http://www.amazon.com/Behavior-Adjustment-Training-Frustration-Aggression/dp/161

Good luck. Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance.

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist
http://GoodDog-DogTraining.com

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT

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IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com/ If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.

Experience

I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

Organizations
I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications
http://NutzAboutMutz.com ; http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

Education/Credentials
I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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