Every Day is Hump Day at Pet CampDecember 3, 2019
No, we don’t mean because we operate every day of the year every day feels like Wednesday, we mean really there is the potential for humping every day at Pet Camp. It doesn’t happen often, but at times there is a camper (so far no counselors) who decides to strut his (or occasionally her) stuff.
First, let’s get the obvious issue out of the way. We do not allow sexually mature intact males to play in groups of dogs with intact females. As a general rule, older intact males play in specially designed groups with only spayed females. That said, even though there is no biological risk, we discourage mounting. The question is why.
A recent issue of Your Dog, published by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, suggests that perhaps we (and other pet parents) are worrying too much about this behavior.
The veterinarians at Tufts suggest that when we humans see a dog mounting another our views of sexual behavior and sexual aggression interfere with our ability to make a determination regarding the dog’s behavior. They specifically say that if neither dog is getting “upset” we should just “allow nature to take its course and just let the dogs be dogs.” They further explain that in most instances mounting is not about sex and more about normal play. Yes, at times mounting can be a means for a dog to display social status or exert control, but even that behavior is not sexual.
All that said, since most of us are not happy to see our dog being the humper or the humpee, there are steps to take to avoid it. Sadly, once engaged, it is hard for even a well-trained dog to follow the “off’ or “stop” command, and if your dog does follow that command you need to follow up with an amazing treat (I mean really, your dog just gave up humping another dog, so get the high reward treats out).
Second, interrupt and distract your dog in advance. Like most dog behavior, redirecting your dog’s attention away from something he or she desires to something you would like them to focus on is one of the best ways to avoid negative behavior and consequences. Again, a high reward treat is necessary.
Third, you can take the tried and true parent of a teenager approach and place yourself between the humper and the humpee. Sure, there are an amazing amount of jokes we could add here – but we’ll leave that to your imagination.
Fourth, lots of exercise can take the edge off. Encourage your dog to have fun and frolic in ways that are more socially acceptable (even in San Francisco).
In sum, the veterinarians at Tufts suggest that we should try and relax, let our dogs be dogs, and that our social mores need to take a back seat to a little doggie fun.
What do you think? Should we all just relax and let dogs be dogs – it is what the doctors ordered.
Thanks for reading.