Sounds like a normal canine thing.
But what if…
They can’t stop doing it?!
Should you be concerned about this behavior?
Read on to learn:
- What it means if a dog humps the air.
- Whether it’s only sexually related or not.
- Why do spayed and neutered canines still do it.
- 7 helpful tips on how to curb this manic hip thrusting.
- 5 possible dangers when they’re too absorbed in this.
- And many more…
Table of contents
Why do dogs hump the air?
Dogs hump the air due to excitement, play behavior, overstimulation, anxiety, sexual motivation, sex hormones, boredom, poor socialization during puppyhood, or attention. This can also be a sign of a medical condition like priapism, paraphimosis, UTI, skin allergies, irritation of genitals, or OCD.
Is it normal for dogs to hump the air?
It’s normal for dogs to hump the air. This is a common behavior in adult males and females if they’re aroused. But puppies may also do it as they’re nearing puberty or ‘sexual maturity.’ This will only be alarming if they can’t seem to stop, they look in pain, and it’s accompanied by other symptoms.
13 reasons why dogs hump the air (uncontrollably)
#1: They’re ‘play humping’
Hip thrusting is usually seen as sexual behavior in dogs.
This behavior can cause laughter, embarrassment, and raised eyebrows.
But in reality, it could mean a lot of things.
First off, humping the air can also be a sign that they want to play.
Odd, isn’t it?
However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Each dog has their own way of expressing its playfulness. And some must have liked shaking their hips more.
“But could they also be asserting dominance?”
Some experts say it has something to do with social status. For example, an ‘alpha dog’ will air hump over a ‘submissive pup.’
This dominance theory was mostly based on wolves in the wild. Since, well, they’re known to be our furry friends’ ancestors.
But according to David Mech, a biologist, wolves in packs don’t fight for hierarchy.
It’s actually a big family. Wherein the parents (1 adult male and female) will naturally become the ‘leaders.’ So there’s no need for them to show dominance.
However, he also says that captive wolves, if from different packs, can be violent to each other. It’s just that dominant behaviors weren’t usually observed in the same group.
So based on this, a dog will not hump their parents to gain authority. As well as dominate their canine pals because it could only be an invitation to play.
#2: They have a rush of emotions
“I can’t contain myself anymore! *twerks involuntarily*”
It’s probably common for dogs to wag their tails and bark a lot when they’re delighted.
But, uhm…air humping?
Sure this is very strange. However, don’t fret because your pooch isn’t alone as other canines also do this.
Yup, they do it out of joy. And it’s going to look more like dancing rather than an ordinary humping.
A dog could be feeling so many emotions that they can’t control their body.
So if your Fido greets you with this, they’re just so happy to see you.
But, they might also hump when they:
- Get some exercise.
- Have a new toy that they love.
- Meet their furry friends or visitors.
- Go outside after being indoors all day.
Don’t forget to check out: Why Does My Dog Only Hump Me? 15 Surprising Reasons
#3: They’re highly aroused
A few minutes ago, your pooch was having fun with another doggo.
Then the next thing you see is they’re humping air.
“Are they aroused?”
Yes, but not necessarily sexually.
A dog can be stirred up due to so much excitement while playing. But this might also happen if the other canine starts playing roughly.
So it’s like their way of expressing a time-out.
“What causes overstimulation in dogs?”
They could be overwhelmed when there’s so much going on or when they’re too tired.
So this might not only occur when they’re with other dogs.
But also when you’re walking them outside for example. They may be overexerted or there are so many scents and new people around.
#4: They release build up tension
Stress is a part of our lives.
And our furry friends experience it too.
But do you ever wonder how they relieve it?
Well, dogs have their own ways of coping up. And they can be things we don’t usually expect, such as:
These are only a few examples of what your pooch can do. Another way to soothe themselves is to air hump.
“What made them act this way?”
Also, sudden changes in the environment may be stressful for them. As they’ll feel safer with familiar scents and sounds.
So moving houses and changing their schedule can make them worry a lot. That even some canines also shed their fur. Like hair fall in humans.
“How will I know if a dog is anxious?”
The common signs of stress are:
Learn more: Why is my dog acting scared?
#5: They’re sexually frustrated
Now, this is a well-known reason for humping.
It’s due to sexual excitement. And both male and female dogs are capable of doing this.
“But why do they hump the air?”
It’s common to see canines doing it on a pillow, stuffed animal, or people’s legs.
However, this is just the same.
If they’re an intact male, there could be a female in heat nearby. And when they can’t mate, they’ll be frustrated.
So they’ll hump the first thing they see. And if there’s nothing in sight, there’s no stopping them from doing their ‘thing.’
“But what about females?”
They’ll also do this when they’re having an estrus cycle or ‘heat.’ Or if other females are also in season.
“How long will this last?”
Males can experience this all year round as they don’t go in heat.
While in females, AKC says that a cycle may last up to 2 to 4 weeks.
Small breeds will have it more frequently – 3 to 4 times per year. And giant dogs will only go in heat once in 12 to 18 months.
Interesting fact: There’s usually no mating season in dogs. But, experts say that springtime is the breeding period for Tibetan Mastiffs and Basenjis.
You may also wonder: Can Dogs Get Sexually Attracted To Humans? The Truth
#6: They do it due to hormones
Aside from sperms and eggs, ‘gonads’ or sexual organs also produce sex hormones.
Males release testosterone while it’s estrogen and progesterone in females. These cause changes in their behavior as well as their body.
So, even without sexual motivation, pups might also air hump – especially in males. And this may happen as they reach sexual maturity.
Their hormones will start to be produced. And their eggs or sperm will become fertile. But if they’re not ready for mating, they hump instead.
But there are also other cases where…
A spayed or neutered dog still thrust their hips. But, it’s not because they’re aroused due to heat or a nearby female.
According to a veterinary behaviorist, there could still be some sex hormones left in their bloodstream. So these will stay in their body and cause a few humping incidents.
#7: They’ve got nothing better to do
It’s often the root cause of unwanted behaviors in dogs.
This is because all canines need enough stimulation throughout the day. And what I meant by this is working out both their mind and body.
So if they didn’t put their energy and brains into use…
They’ll do something else instead like humping.
#8: They have poor socialization skills
“What’s the matter?
This is how I greet people and other doggos.”
Some dogs who aren’t socialized well can also hump to interact with others.
It’s more likely to happen if a canine stayed isolated in a shelter for a long time. Or it could also be due to past trauma or neglect.
Lack of early training might also be the cause of this.
According to research, 19% out of 1,016 dogs have problematic humping behavior. And house soiling is the most common issue with 78%.
This could be related to poor puppy training as 52% of the canines didn’t undergo any.
Note: Other dogs might not tolerate humping near or over them. So if your pooch does this too often, it’ll be best to curb the behavior.
#9: Priapism and paraphimosis
Have you noticed any changes in their behavior? Or in their private parts?
Because air humping can also be a dog’s way of relieving discomfort.
If they’re a male and their ‘lipstick’ is out for so long, there could be something wrong.
There’s a rare condition that causes an erection without having sexual desire. It’s called priapism and this can last for 4 hours or even several days.
It may progress to ‘paraphimosis’ were bringing back the penis inside the foreskin will be hard.
Other signs you’ll notice are:
- Walking wobbly.
- Loss of appetite.
Experts say that this can be caused by:
- Penile masses.
- Trauma during mating.
- Problems in the blood vessels.
- Myelopathy (spinal cord injury).
What to do?
For mild cases, PetMD recommends putting a lubricant on their penis. Then softly massage it back into the foreskin.
Another option is applying an ‘osmotic solution.’ Drench a gauze in 50% dextrose and wrap it carefully on their genitals.
But before doing this, ensure that there are no foreign bodies in it that can get stuck inside.
Note: Serious cases will require the removal of the penis. As well as scrotal urethrostomy to create another opening for urine.
Aside from constant hip-thrusting…
Does your pooch also leak pee everywhere?
And it smells so strong?
If this is your case, it could be a sign of urinary tract infection or UTI. And your dog’s humping is due to pain in their lower area.
This happens when bacteria go up to their urethra – where their urine passes through. Then reproduce in their bladder.
“What are its other symptoms?”
- Lick their genitals.
- Have bloody or cloudy urine.
- Whine and strain while urinating.
- Try to relieve themselves frequently.
If these signs are observed, there’s also the chance of a prostate gland issue.
This has almost the same indicators as UTI. And the only difference is that they’ll also have trouble pooping.
But, do male canines only suffer from this?
Female dogs don’t have a prostate. But, researchers found that they have a very similar one. And it’s also prone to cancers, tumors, and other diseases.
Read further: 6 Real Reasons Why Your Dog Smells Like Ammonia + 5 Tips
#11: Skin allergies
Are they really humping?
Are they scratching their behind?
The up and down motion can be quite similar. However, the latter is more probable if they do this too often.
So watch carefully as it might be like this:
Itchy skin makes dogs scratch themselves excessively. But if they can’t do it on their own, rubbing somewhere will help. Say furniture or a carpet.
“Oh no. What may have caused it?”
It could be a reaction from flea bites, shampoos, or cleaning products.
And if they started doing it after going outside, they might have walked on a lawn with pesticides or fertilizers.
They may be sensitive to some food as well. For example, dairy products, beef, and wheat. And signs of intolerance will appear after hours or days.
There’s a high chance that allergy is the reason for your dilemma if you notice:
- Hair loss.
Note: Other canines might also have an upset stomach, runny discharge, and sneezing attacks.
#12: Irritation of genitals
The swelling of their private parts will also cause discomfort to dogs. And this could trigger their involuntary humping.
In males, it’s possible that the sheath or outer covering of their penis is irritated. While females can have an infection in their vagina.
The latter may not only cause humping for girls…
But also in males.
Vets say that it’ll make them sexually frustrated too if they’re around a dog who has this. Even if the female isn’t in heat.
Common signs to look for are:
- Pain while peeing.
- Licking of private parts.
- Urinating more frequently.
- Vaginal discharge with pus/blood.
This is mainly caused by bacteria. But other reasons could be:
- Foreign bodies.
- Hormonal imbalance.
You might also like: Why does my dog keep licking their base of tail?
#13: They have a compulsive disorder
You may have seen dogs constantly chasing their tails. Or licking anything they see.
These all seem like normal habits. But, it all goes down to the frequency.
So how many times does your dog hump in a day?
Is it a lot?
If so, it might already be a compulsive behavior. This is why they do it uncontrollably and out of nowhere.
Canines can also have an obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.
Just to be clear, this is different from wanting everything clean and organized.
It’s doing something for long hours with no reason at all. And it can’t be easily stopped. So even with distractions, a dog who’s absorbed in humping the air will still do it.
“Are there any causes for this?”
According to specialists, this can be a result of:
- Painful ailments.
Note: Symptoms may begin to show around 12 to 24 months old. And if no action is done, their behavior will get worse.
#BONUS: They learned to do it for attention
In some cases, dogs can also hump under their control.
“But for what?”
For their humans to notice them.
Canines are wise. They know what they need to do to get something.
Air humping isn’t a common thing to do to seek attention.
So it could be that they’ve run out of their usual options like barking and whining. And this is the only one that made people’s heads turn.
Because who would ignore those hip thrusts?
Most people may laugh at, scold, and go to them when they do it. So they could think that it’s acceptable behavior.
How do I stop my dog from humping the air (uncontrollably)? 7 tips
#1: Call their attention immediately
Air humping is a common behavior in aroused dogs.
So as long as no one’s uncomfortable with this, letting your pooch do this a few times won’t hurt.
But, if this is too much and it bothers you, there’s a way to limit the behavior.
By stopping your dog beforehand. The rule in this is that you need to call them off every time they’re about to hump.
But first, you need to be aware of when they’re going to do it. A dog that’ll hump may start to:
- Rub against people/things.
So once you spot your Fido doing some of these signs, call their name or say “stop” firmly.
But if they ignore you, avoid yelling at or scolding them. Instead…
#2: Redirect their focus
When they’re about to hump, quickly throw a treat or their favorite toy on the ground.
Do they know some tricks?
If so, make them do a command to divert their attention. Even basic ones will do, like “lie down,” “sit,” or “come.”
This can help ‘excited humpers’ to redirect their energy onto something else.
But if they’re only doing it for a motive…
#3: Encourage desirable behavior
If you have an ‘attention-humper,’ try your best not to give them what they ask.
They want to be noticed, right?
So, don’t pet or speak to them for a while. And do this until they stop thrusting their hips.
Once they refrain, praise them a lot. This is to let them know that humping won’t work starting from now on.
#4: Rule out any medical issues
Is this sudden behavior?
If so, having them checked by a vet should be the first thing to do. Particularly if they’re also showing other signs.
Consider what I said earlier. Dogs may also hump due to medical issues. So any kind of training won’t work if the main cause isn’t solved.
Note: Monitor your pooch for a whole day. List down their behavior. Then book an appointment at the clinic as soon as possible.
#5: Help them relieve their stress
Canines might also hump uncontrollably as a response to a stressful situation.
So, determine what makes them anxious first.
The trigger could be a sound, household object, or specific people. As well as going to a certain place such as a vet clinic, dog park, or grooming salon.
If it can be avoided and removed, do so. However, if it’s not – like a trip to the vet, getting them used to it will help.
Make every visit a positive experience for them as much as possible.
While you’re on your way and in the clinic, give them yummy treats and play some fun games (e.g., fetch ).
Note: Spending more time with your pooch can also help them feel more secure. So don’t forget to allot some quality time every day.
#6: Cure their boredom
Leaving them alone for hours with nothing to do may also trigger their humping.
So what can you do?
Give them enough physical exercises, training, interactive toys, socialization, and time for games.
Remember, hip-thrusting may be due to pent-up energy as well. So to keep them engaged, make sure that the activities will be highly exciting for them.
- Tug of war.
- Catching frisbees.
- Water games (swimming, water fetch, paddleboarding).
These may suffice their instincts to chase and retrieve. And if done daily, this will help improve their mood and relieve stress.
Also, work out their minds by having a:
#7: Consider neutering/spaying
In 60% of male dogs, research shows that neutering can lessen humping by up to 50%. And it also has an effect on females.
But, is it right to have your pooch ‘fixed?’
What are its pros?
Experts point out that spaying or neutering dogs will:
- Reduce aggression.
- Avoid unwanted litter.
- Help control overpopulation.
- Prevent dogs from roaming around.
- Lessen risk of illnesses (e.g., pyometra, tumors, testicular cancer).
How about its cons?
There are lots of health and behavioral benefits. However, if done too early, specialists say that there are also several consequences.
One study found that some dogs who are fixed before 1 year old are more prone to cancers and joint disorders.
This is evident in Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. As these breeds are likely to have them.
Cases of joint disorders in neutered Labs are twice more than the intact ones. While it’s 4 to 5 times greater in fixed Goldens.
Females of both kinds were also discovered to be at high risk for cancers, unlike male dogs. For Labs, it’s 3% greater than intact canines. While in Goldens, it’s 3 to 4 times higher.
Note: So consult with your vet first to see what’s the right age for your pooch.
People also ask:
What does it mean when a dog humps air?
A dog humping air doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re sexually aroused. They could also be excited, stressed, fearful, overstimulated, or bored.
The act of thrusting their hips can be soothing for canines like licking and chewing things.
But if they’re doing it near another doggo or their favorite human, they might be initiating play. Or showing a warm (but unusual) greeting.
Why does my dog hump the air when he wakes up
Your dog humps the air when he wakes up because he’s in puberty or has paraphimosis. Sometimes, it can also be due to over-excitement in the morning.
Sexual maturity in canines will usually start around 6 to 9 months old.
Because of this, your Fido may also wake up fully erected. Then hump for a few seconds and sleep again.
This is common in male puppies and its frequency will be reduced as years pass by.
But, if it’s due to paraphimosis, their penis wouldn’t be retracted back in their foreskin. And it may also look like a seizure as they normally won’t stop humping for a few minutes.
Why does my neutered dog air hump?
Your neutered dog air humps because he still has a few testosterones left in his system. But this behavior will only happen once in a while. So it’s not as frequent as before.
If they seem happy, this can be due to excitement, play behavior, seeking attention, or over-arousal.
But if they look nervous and pace a lot, they might be bored, frustrated, itchy, or in pain.
Why does my spayed dog air hump?
Your spayed dog air humps because she still has hormones left in her blood, feels exhilarated, gets anxious, or wants to be noticed.
If this doesn’t happen occasionally, it could also be a compulsive behavior. Or a sign of an illness like allergies or UTI.
Why does my dog air hump around my baby?
Your dog air humps around your baby because they don’t know how to interact with one. However, this can also be a displacement behavior due to stress.
This is because the infant is a new family member. So your pooch might be jealous and may not like having divided attention.
But, some canines will also be curious about the baby. And if they haven’t seen one before, they’re probably clueless on how to act around one.