There are few things as awkward for a dog parent than having their furry best buddy suddenly start humping when outdoors or when there are guests in the home. It doesn’t matter whether they are humping a random throw pillow, a guest’s leg, or even the air.
One main reason why your dog may be humping the air is due to sexual arousal. However, there are several non-sexual causes of air-humping that you should be aware of. Air-humping, in particular, is a very odd habit but is usually not a cause for concern.
We shall take a look at all of these reasons why your dog is humping the air as well as how to stop the awkward habit.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Hump The Air?
It is completely normal for your dog to hump the air. So why is your dog doing it?
Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs hump the air or anything else around them.
Dogs may hump the air when they are sexually aroused as they reach sexual maturity. The age of sexual maturity for most dogs is between 6 to 9 months. However, some breeds may take up to one year to demonstrate sexual behavior like air-humping.
Air-humping is more common with male dogs especially when there is a female dog around triggering their desire. However, air-humping can also sometimes be seen in female dogs especially when they are in heat.
Another reason your dog may be air-humping is due to anxiety. In these cases, the humping is typically done subconsciously and is widely perceived to be your dog’s way of dealing with all the nervous energy.
The air-humping here may also be associated with other signs of anxiety in dogs, including:
- Aggressive or reclusive behavior
- Stool or urinary incontinence
- Restlessness and pacing
- Whining and other forms of vocalization
- Reduced appetite
If your dog starts air-humping whenever you get home, grab their favorite toy, or shake a bag of treats, the chances are that they are humping as a sign of excitement.
Here, the pooch may be so excited that they don’t know what to do with themselves. Your dog will then break into unusual behavior, including air-humping, running into objects, or even chasing its tail.
Sometimes, dogs hump the air or objects in their environment out of boredom and as a way to find something fun to do. Young puppies living with their siblings may also hump the air as a playful gesture to try and coax their siblings into playing with them.
When Should You Be Worried About Your Dog Humping The Air?
Excessive air-humping should always be a cause of concern despite the habit being generally innocent. If left unchecked, it will result in worse habits that will make being a dog owner very unpleasant.
Here is all that can go wrong if air-humping is left to go on for too long.
Dogs will spray urine around your home and property as a way to mark their territory. This is especially common in male dogs as they reach sexual maturity.
Stopping habits like air-humping early may help to prevent this by teaching your dog to stay calm and tempering their hormonal outbursts.
Aggressiveness is another common outcome when air-humping and other manifestations of excessive hormonal and sexual stimulation are left unchecked.
Your dog may start to get aggressive as a way to assert dominance. This happens a lot in households with multiple dogs, especially if there is more than one male dog. However, dogs may also demonstrate aggressive behavior as they try to dominate their human companions.
Graduate To Humping Objects
For dogs that hump the air excessively, the next big thing you have to worry about is that they may take things to the next level by humping objects or people.
This is extremely embarrassing and could also result in the destruction of your property by the over-aroused dog.
Finally, unchecked air-humping and other sexual behavior will result in unplanned pregnancies, especially if you have multiple dogs or your pets are free to go in and out of the house.
Here, spaying or neutering might be the only way to spare yourself and your female dogs the inconvenience of puppies you hadn’t planned for.
Do Female Dogs Hump The Air?
Female dogs can sometimes hump the air when they are sexually aroused, but they do not do so as often or as aggressively as male dogs do.
The air-humping may be associated with other signs that your female dog is in heat. These signs include:
- Swollen vulva
- Bloody vaginal discharge
- Increased frequency of urination
- Increased or reduced appetite
- Change in behavior to either increased affection or aggressiveness
How Do I Stop My Dog From Humping The Air?
The best way to stop your dog from humping the air is through strict and consistent training.
Here is how this can work so that you avoid awkward encounters as well as outcomes like spraying, aggressiveness, and unplanned pregnancies.
Discourage The Behavior Firmly
Dogs are very receptive to human emotions, and most will not want to do anything perceivably undesirable to you. It is therefore crucial that you firmly discourage your dog from humping the air as soon as you notice them doing it.
Use verbal commands with a firm tone whenever you catch the pooch in the act. Just don’t yell at them or tell them off with long-winded lectures, as you will just have a confused dog that is bound to air-hump again.
A simple loud but firm “No” or “Stop” should do the trick. Do this enough times and your pooch will not want to air hump again. At least not in your presence.
Positive Conditioning Training Techniques
Operant conditioning techniques like rewarding your dog when they stop air-humping could also help curb the habit.
Combine these rewards with your firm command training, and your dog should fall in line soon enough.
Spaying Or Neutering
If your dog is humping the air while also showing other signs of sexual misbehavior like spraying and aggression, you may have to consider getting them spayed or neutered.
The good news is that spaying and neutering have numerous benefits for the dog. These include improved behavior and adjustment as well as sparing the females the risks and discomfort of pregnancy.
Addressing Any Other Underlying Issues
Finally, identifying and dealing with underlying issues, like anxiety and boredom, could also help you stop your dog from humping the air too much. In these cases, you may have to consult a dog behavior specialist or a vet.