Why Do Dogs Hump?

Jan 03, 2024


Why Do Dogs Hump?


Dogs of both sexes get a little ‘humpy’ from time to time and here are several reasons why:




Humping can be a part of normal play behaviour, often doing this as a way of expressing excitement or just as a part of normal play.


Dominance or Social Status


Humping can be a way for dogs to assert dominance or establish social hierarchy.


Sexual Reasons and reproduction


Of course, the obvious one. Humping can be for sexual and reproductive reasons, especially in dogs that are not neutered or spayed. This behaviour is driven by hormonal influences and the instinct to reproduce.


Stress or Excitement


Some dogs will hump when they are overly excited or stressed.


Attention-Seeking Behaviour


Dogs may learn to hump because it gets a reaction from their owners or other people. If a dog finds that humping leads to attention (even if it's negative attention), they might repeat the behaviour.


Medical Issues


It’s very rare but excessive humping might be related to a medical problem. Perhaps a urinary tract infection, skin allergy, or other discomfort might lead to humping as a way to deal with the irritation. If you’re concerned about this please consult your vet.



Female Dogs humping Female Dogs


While we think of humping aligning more with male dogs, female dogs also exhibit this behaviour, especially during their heat cycle.


When female dogs are in heat, they might hump other female dogs due to hormonal changes and increased sexual arousal. I’ve found with ours that this only happens with the dogs in our home. One day I’ll study the reasons for that.


This behaviour isn’t just about trying to mate but also a way for the dog to express the heightened level of excitement and arousal caused by the hormonal changes rather than a sexual advance or dominance behaviour.



Why do Female Dogs go into season?


The main reason a female dog goes into heat is reproduction. During their 'season', a female dog becomes fertile and can conceive puppies if she mates with a male dog.

During their estrous cycle, an ovulation occurs, which is the release of eggs from the ovaries. This is the time when a female dog is most fertile and more able to become pregnant.

This is different from a humans Menstrual cycle with some differences.



What’s the Difference?


The menstrual and estrous cycles are both reproductive cycles in animals but have some big differences.


Types of Animals


Menstrual Cycle

This occurs in humans, some primates, and some other mammals.


Estrous Cycle

This occurs in most other mammals, including dogs, cats, cattle, and horses.




Menstrual Cycle

One of the most obvious features of the menstrual cycle is menstruation, the shedding of the uterine lining, which results in bleeding. This happens when there is no pregnancy.


Estrous Cycle

Animals with an estrous cycle do not have a ‘typical’ menstruation phase. They have a period of "estrus" or "heat," during which they can get pregnant. Some animals may have a small amount of bleeding, we refer to the wee marks in our home as ‘blood spots’ but it's not the same as menstruation. And we clean them up immediately of course.




Menstrual Cycle

In humans, the menstrual cycle usually occurs every 28-30 days.

Estrous Cycle

The estrous cycle varies greatly among different species. Dogs for example normally go into heat about twice a year, while cats can have multiple cycles during the breeding season.



Fertility Period


Menstrual Cycle

Humans can generally become pregnant any time during the menstrual cycle, although it’s more likely during ovulation.

Estrous Cycle

Animals are only open to mating when they are in estrus and only capable of becoming pregnant during this specific time in their cycle.





Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle prepares our bodies for pregnancy each month.

Estrous Cycle

The estrous cycle prepares the animal's body for pregnancy at specific times more suitable to environmental conditions that would give the offspring a better chance of survival.



Like Humans, do Dogs align their cycles with Dogs in the same social group


All three of our unspayed dogs here at SDB HQ have, over the years have aligned their estrous cycle with each other and I’ve often been asked why females hump females when this occurs. 

After all, should we just be worried about unwanted pregnancies of exuberant shows of dominance?


This ‘alignment’ of ‘estrous cycles’ in Dogs or in humans we would refer to it as ‘menstrual cycles’ is a phenomenon first reported in humans when Martha McLintock undertook a study of women living together in a college dormitory ion 1971. In humans it became known as “The McClintock effect” or menstrual synchrony.


As studies have so far been inconclusive, in Dogs there is no term for it in the canine world.


Although it’s understood that animals, other than humans that live together in groups or packs might have their female reproductive cycles line up with each other due to coordinated breeding, which could be useful for the group, but studies are still trying to figure out exactly how and why this happens.


I’ve read that we're NOT really sure IF this happens in pets like dogs as much as it does in people, but my guys are living proof it at least happens to some.