Eli is a happy, 6-month old toy Poodle puppy. He’s full of life, loves to play, sleeps in the morning and is full of energy in the afternoon. I stay at home most of the time with my two dogs and they both get along well together. My question is how do I stop Eli from humping? He does it to my leg and arm every night. I try to get his attention away from it by tossing a toy. This will stop it for a while but he then continues. What should I do? I really don’t want to fix him yet. Thanks!
– Sandi, U.S. Virgin Islands
Neutering Eli isn’t mandatory for a behavior modification program to be successful, but it certainly would assist the training process. I suggest you follow the instructions below. If you’re successful and Eli doesn’t begin marking or other behaviors more commonly seen in intact dogs, you can wait to schedule the procedure, as long as he’s completely, 100 percent managed. That means making sure your fences are high enough to contain Eli, that there is absolutely no chance he can escape under any circumstances (a neighbor opening the gate, a natural disaster, etc.), and that he will not run out the front door.
He’s much more prone to do so if he’s aware of a female dog being around and in breeding mode, even blocks away. The effort, height and distance an intact dog will go through to reach a female dog ready to breed is much more than you’d imagine. Your vet can recommend an appropriate age to have Eli neutered.
I can’t tell from your question if Eli’s behavior in the evening is when you’re sitting watching TV or if he sleeps with you. If he sleeps in your bed, please read my House Training handout and have him sleep in his crate at night or with your other dog, just as long as it’s not on your bed. If the humping occurs when you’ve settled down on the couch for a while before bedtime, then you can train proactively by distracting him before the behavior starts!
Change his dinnertime routine to be when the behavior usually occurs, and in this manner:
1. Buy five Kongs for Eli (and five for your other dog, too!)
2. Early in the day, prepare his dinner as outlined below and put it in the fridge. You can do this for your other dog, too.
3. Stuff the Kongs with his dinner. Please see my handout.
4. Divide his dinner into five portions and stuff five Kongs.
5. Have the Kongs in a baggie tucked away where he can’t get to them, like behind your back or tucked into the sofa cushion.
6. Give your other dog his/her stuffed Kongs where Eli can’t get to them; preferably behind a closed door.
7. Request a “Sit” or “Down” from Eli – whatever you’ve taught him, switch it up – and when he responds, say “Yes!” then toss the Kong away from you.
8. Pay close attention so that when he wanders back to you, you’re ready to repeat the process until all the Kongs are gone; you want to catch him before he starts humping every time. If you don’t catch him, and he does it and then you toss a toy to distract him, you’re (oops!) rewarding him for humping!
9. When you’ve tossed him his last Kong, get up and get ready for bed, then take the dogs out for their last potty run, then it’s time for bed.
10. Be sure to put them to bed before Eli has an opportunity to start the unwanted behavior — you must be mobile after his last Kong and until he goes to bed.
Send me an email and let me know how the training goes!
PHOTOS: nickkkds.wordpress.com, the-pets.blogspot.com