Dear Dr. Forsythe: I’ve been meaning to ask this question to my own veterinarians, but I always seem to forget to bring it up until I’m on the way home from their office. So I figured, why not write in and see what you say? My 5 year old Chihuahua “Dinkie” has taken to humping our other dog lately. She didn’t do this when she was younger, and we even had her spayed last year after she had her last litter. As of late she has started getting up on our male Labrador and humping him on his leg, then she runs around in circles and even mounts our ceramic tortoise in the corner. It seems really strange, and when I tell her to stop, she looks up at me all confused then runs away. Why is she doing this? Is she OK? Is she horny or crazy or what is happening to her?- Not tonight — I Have a Headache
Dear “Not tonight:” I don’t blame you in the least for having a headache tonight and every night. The thought of your precious Chihuahua developing this new behavior of mounting and dry-humping everything and anything in sight is rather disturbing. I know it can be embarrassing and disconcerting to explain this away to people without knowing why it is happening in the first place.
Most of the time when female dogs like Dinkie mount other animals, they are exhibiting their dominance and exerting their alpha energy over another pet. This can even translate to inanimate objects that your pet is trying to overcome and dominate. It is very unlikely that Dinkie’s behavior is sexually based because she is a spayed female, so she doesn’t have ovaries or estrogen to stimulate sexual activity or excitement. Because this is a learned behavior that is unsettling, I would suggest treating it like any other unwanted behavior: Every time Dinkie begins to mount, quickly call her name and place her into her crate until she learns that this is an unacceptable behavior. Pets learn quickly, and I suspect that after working with her to prevent this action, she will stop doing this very quickly. Please let me know how this turns out, and I wish you the best of luck with your little whipper-snapper. – Dr. F.