In the wild, the mounting behaviour of wolves is the ultimate statement of dominance and rank. With rank comes the right to mate with limited females.
Often during play fights, dogs are seen to place paws on top of other dogs or even mount other dogs. This can be for the purposes of procreation, but in the majority of cases this is a dominance behaviour, that has no sexual intent. This behaviour is not gender specific and can be seen in both male to male, female to female, male to female and vice-versa.
It is not unusual during puberty for young dogs to display mounting behaviour. As well as the excessive hormone activity, they are also going through the process of understanding and determining their rank within the pack. The pack in this case include you and your family!
In many ways, constant mounting can be seen as a sign of insecurity within a dog. The dog in question is seeking re-assurance that it is in charge. The response from the mounted dog indicates to what extent they accept the control of other dog. A dog that growls and pushes the other dog off, is in essence not accepting the control of the other dog. On the other hand, dogs that accept it and appear intimidated are signalling their subservience. Confident dogs are often seen to completely ignore being mounted and give the impression of not caring less.
What can I do about it?
The general consensus amongst experts is that you should do nothing and it will resolve itself over time. You should only intervene if:
- the behaviour has in the past provoked a fight with the other dog.
- it appears obsessive and distracting your dog from other activities such as walking, playing or eating.
In both cases you may decide it is appropriate to intervene and distract your dogs attention to other activities. This should be done in a positive and non-threatening way.
With young dogs, you can help by quickly establishing your position as the alpha dog. This helps in the ranking process and allows your dog to settle and be confident of its rank (see our article becoming the pack leader) .
In any event, you should allow a period of up to 2 months for mounting behaviour to subside. If not, and you feel the behaviour is obsessive, you should seek the advice of your vet or animal behaviourist who will help you consider other options such as; neutering, medication or a more comprehensive behaviour management program.