I’ll admit it. My dog likes to mount other dogs.
It’s been an interesting problem; one that began before I became a trainer and worked in doggy daycares. Jasper would often accompany me and mounting inevitably happens in any daycare situation. The probability of over-arousal is high in these environments, and no doubt he got a good amount of practice. While I didn’t just let it happen, it happened often, and I am still working on addressing it, though it’s gotten better over time and with practice in other skills with him, like having a reliable come-when-called, and with me understanding his body language better so I can cut off the behavior before it happens.
What causes this behavior? In my dog’s case, it’s over-arousal. He simply gets too excited and engages in an inappropriate behavior. How do I address it? I have learned to read his signs that show he is getting too excited; often, he does some dominant gesturing like placing his head over the dog’s shoulders, and he also will lick their ears. Even before these signs, I can just tell by the way he postures himself: how he looks at the other dog, how his tail starts to wag more excitedly, and how he fidgets. When I see any of these, I call him back to me, have him sit and keep focus. I will give him treats if he complies with this to reinforce it, and sometimes I will redirect his attention to me and a ball, and play fetch in a different area of a park.
If he goes too far or still is too excited, I will give him a time-out by placing him on leash and taking him to a quiet area/out of the play area. I will wait until he is calm enough to obey some simple cues, like sit and watch me, and then will allow him back when I feel an appropriate time has passed and he is sufficiently calm. The behavior has been improving, though he can regress if I take him to an environment that is overly charged, so I do stay away from smaller dog parks or overcrowded dog areas.
If your dog has problems with mounting, consider first why is he doing this behavior? For some dogs, it can be due to over-excitement, inappropriate dominance, or even signal anxiety. We highly advise working with a professional to ensure you’re addressing what’s at the root of these behaviors. It’s important to understand your dog’s signals so you can intervene BEFORE he engages in the behavior. Redirect him to appropriate behaviors and be patient and calm. It’s important to not be upset or use a tone that is frustrated or exasperated, as this will only cause the energy level to be even more arousing and not help with calming the dog. A calm person = a calm dog!
If your dog is already engaged in the behavior, put him on a leash and take him away. If he’s getting ready to mount but hasn’t yet, use your whole body to block his attempts and move him away. Having a solid come-when-called is very important as well; remember to give the dog breaks during play to calm down and not get overly aroused. It’s always best to cut off the behavior before it begins, so taking breaks is very important.
For mounting behaviors directed at humans, manage interactions by having crate-training in place. Whenever company comes over or you need a quiet break and don’t want to actively train for mounting, crating the dog will prevent the behavior. Anytime your dog approaches and tries to mount, REMOVE ALL ATTENTION. Don’t look at him or talk to him; walk away with your back to him and go into another room for a few minutes. Teach the dog to sit politely for interactions with humans and make it highly rewarding.
Again, it’s important to work with a professional if the mounting isn’t easily curbed by these tips, as it can signal a more serious problem or even just a need for more specific coaching to solve it.
Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you!
Owner, Delightful Doggies