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Discussion Starter #1
Preface: There really is no problem. I'm just over-analyzing and nitpicking and would welcome opinions and anecdotes.

Here's the thing. Brae has no issues around other dogs. We have no challenges navigating around dogs on leash, off leash, in classrooms, at dog events, etc. He is generally very social and would love to play. He's well socialized but not regularly allowed to PLAY with dogs. However, we encounter them on a regular basis through off leash hiking, walking every day, etc.

The thing is, WHEN I let him play, he quickly gets overstimulated and starts humping other dogs. The behavior started in adolescence, subsided a bit, and is now pretty constant. I always supervise interactions and interrupt before that point if possible and especially when it happens. But to a large degree, it just seems like 'it is who he is'. He goes from 0 to 60 in ANYTHING we do, and it's a trait I admire but not all dogs appreciate.

He also gets some negative reactions from other dogs even when he's not humping. I don't know if the myth of 'unaltered males being targeted' is true. But I've gotten some "my dog has never done that before" comments from strangers with social dogs who've lunged and snapped at Brae when Brae was not doing anything too pushy. Brae is always tall and forward, but sometimes it's when he is just standing there or sniffing the dog, not even posturing over the dog, and the other dog reacts to fend him off. Brae is never offended and just bounces away. In fact, when dogs escalate in an aggressive way Brae seems to take it as play. I always call him off the situation and he's never been in a fight, but I don't see him backing down on his own when things get heated either. He has his 'game on' face in pretty much any situation. Also, I have NEVER seen another dog (besides Soro) try to mount Brae, which strikes me as odd.

Granted, the dogs he ends up humping/playing with are usually rambunctious dogs themselves, like ones who are super-social and run up to us. Brae has no problems politely sniffing and moving on if he encounters a dog who is mature and neutral about it all. And I don't mean to make this sound horrible... He loves to play tug and chase and will do so appropriately, and he does have positive play interactions too.

Lastly, I know that humping in itself is not bad, just over arousal. My general opinion is if a dog in a playgroup sporadically does it and the play partner can handle it or correct it, it's not an issue. It just seems to be Brae's go-to move with rowdy play partners, he repeats the behavior, and Brae is just so darn big and powerful, I do not feel comfortable just standing back and letting it happen.

It feels easier for me to just... not let him play with most dogs... and it's never a challenge controlling him around dogs. I'm also not a stranger to this behavior. Soro was very much like this back when he enjoyed playing with dogs (Worse, even. Since he never self handicapped ever. Neutering did not help since he was a pediatric neuter), but he ended up being dog selective when he matured. I don't think this is the case with Brae. Sorry this is long. Like I said, day to day we see dogs and it's not an issue. I am just over-analyzing this and trying to determine if I can or should do anything about it. (Plus taking it personally since it's MY dog. If it was a client's dog I'd say... manage around other dogs, match with appropriate play partners, dog doesn't need to play with many/most dog he sees :D)

Here are four common scenarios:
-Dog approaching on trail. Brae automatically checks in with me and comes to my right side. If the dog looks like he's clearly approaching, I release Brae to interact. If the dog veers away, Brae does not interact and calmly passes by my side. If they greet and the dog is a mellow/mature dog, both do nose-butt sniffs, both move on.

-Same scenario, mellow dog but the dog postures. Brae is now more likely to put a paw on their back, or his head over their shoulders, or a very low-level mounting attempt (like two paws on their back) but in a goofy/open-mouthed way. If the dog head flips, moves away, or tells Brae off, Brae moves along and we keep hiking.

-Playful dog is approaching us and it is clear that the owner cannot call their dog back OR doesn't even try. It is clear that the dog is going to greet Brae. Brae checks in with me OR I call him to me. He is on my right side. At a reasonable distance (~15 feet) I release Brae to interact. The dog is very wiggly. They might pop at each other. If the dog dashes, Brae will immediately chase. He very likely will mount once the other dog stops running, or he will jump/put two paws on the dog (his other favorite move). Because he's strong, this usually overpowers the other dog, even if they are still trying to play. Brae will then keep trying to mount the dog. If the dog tries to play in a different way (ex. mouthing, chasing, tug, etc.) Brae will entertain that. But if they stop, he will try to mount again. But generally if he mounts and seems to be escalating, I call him off, we move away.

-Playful dog is very fast and/or toy motivated. Which as I type makes me think, 'playful dog can HANDLE my dog'. In this case, Brae does NOT mount (or if he tries the other dog quickly moves away and Brae does not reattempt too much/it seems more balanced) because they are too busy tugging a stick, playing chase, balanced wrestling.
 

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First I am in no way an expert but, as the owner of a mature entire male, Brae's behaviour seems very normal to me though it would worry me a bit in case it leads to a fight with some dogs. About the aggressive stance some neutered males exhibit towards entire males my dog has been targeted a few times, once while he was at my side a dog came right up to him growling in his face. Fortunately the owner came and retrieved his dog swiftly and Dylan gave appeasement signals straight away. Another time a dog we met in an exercise field stood with his head and neck stiffly over Dylan's back and stayed there for a long time while Dylan kept his head turned away and froze. The other dog was obviously trying to start a fight and I was very thankful my dog is the original pacifist. So I would say that yes some neutered dogs seem to have a problem with entire males. The second dog was however a rescue who savaged a small dog he lived with a few weeks later so obviously had other problems.
 

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My newfoundland is exactly the same way. I take him to dog play classes regularly and he basically obsesses over a specific dog (the dog varies, either sex) and just wants to hump the dog the whole time. The trainer lets the other dog deal with it for a few seconds before getting involved, and told us that it's just his way of saying that he wants to play (he picked a bigger dog the other day, and she eventually told him off... didn't happen again on that dog for the session). He did that to our dogs when we got him too (he was 13 months), he was snapped at right away and never tried since. One is a 1yo female that he's always playing with, the other a 14.5yo male that basically just wants to be left alone, and he respects that (he got snapped/growled at enough to get it). I mentioned that to over newf owners and was told that really, ideally he should try that on an older mature female and he might learn his lesson then... hasn't happened yet, but I'm hopeful (haha).

It can be a bit embarrassing but it's good practice for the other dogs too (they get cheered at when they tell him off). I'd say, supervise, if the other dog doesn't want to deal with it, interrupt him then.

What I would do though is limit play to when both dogs are off leash in the first place... so if you're hiking, I'd just ignore other dogs and just go hiking.

About negative reactions from other dogs - I've seen that too a couple times. Actually a 9 month newf had to be removed from our last session because he did NOT like mine (both intact). A couple other dogs just tell him off when he gets too close, but otherwise, it's not too bad, honestly.
 

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Shep was a humper and a master at Calming signals. He humped to initiate play, pestering or teasing to play, but not to 'allow' humping. He humped a larger, male Pit, and the Pit told him off twice. Each time, Shep flew off, play bowed, and barked. After the third time, the Pit might have decided that Shep was not threatening, and just let Shep hump. The Pit never played, and I finally just pulled Shep off.

In contrast, Mikee doesn't normally hump. When humped, he will either throw the dog to the side and start playing, or rollover to self-handicap and play. Mikee is very adaptive to the play style of the dog he is with. An Aussie nips him, so he rolls to protect his rear. A female shepherd humps him, and he flips her to the side, then zooms around the yard. A young Dalmatian is learning, so he throws him to the side and chases him ... which is probably what is desired. He best friend is half his size and they zoom around a 3 acre field, going through all kinds of wolf-like play behaviors and growling at hyper speed ... then stop abruptly for a drink of water. And, a 12 week Golden just joined an open play date, nipping everyone. Mikee snarked him loudly, and you could see the pup figuratively stick his tongue out: you didn't hurt me, and try to hump (this time) and nip again.

When I first got Mikee, he responded quickly, decisively, and violently when humped. He has learned that it usually isn't a threat, and now may even run, so the other dog will try to chase him. There's a Mal in the neighborhood that we're trying to coordinate a playdate with. He's a little bigger than Mikee but not as heavy, and most dogs can't keep up with him. And, we have a female German Shorthaired pointer down the street that like to play with Mikee. She'll hump him and run, but he can't catch her. The problem is she doesn't come when called, and she can hop a 7 foot privacy fence, so they can only play at the dog park or on the beach, so they don't get much time to play together.

Shep was more of a doggie diplomat, able to play even with some fear aggressive dogs. And, he was a humper. In contrast, Mikee is not a jumper, but he seems to be much better at self-handicapping and adapting play style to other dogs. I'm very proud, that with broad exposure and guidance, Mikee has come a very long way in just 2.5 years.
 

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Kiran was humpy when he was 9 weeks old. It honestly, then, seemed like some kind of invitation to play and was entirely ridiculous. Fortunately, these days the only dog he humps is Thud. And it is STILL a precursor to play. Where sane dogs would play bow, he jumps up and humps. Seems almost like 'PAY ATTENTION TO ME" type thing, though I know that's not an accepted read - it also seems like it works for him - with Thud, who is the only dog he does it with, anyway.

He is, however, often targeted to BE humped by other dogs. He was fine with that for quite a while (and, yeah, responded to it like it was a play invitation), but now? If he's actively engaged in an activity with me, he doesn't even notice/acknowledge because busy. If he's not or the other dog is what he's doing (ie: he's playing), he's out for blood.

So, um, I think my advice on this one is that I'd be implementing a 3 second rule when it comes with interacting with dogs you don't know or know won't handle it well. You know, greet 3 seconds and the MOVE ON.

Dogs don't need to play or meet a bunch of other dogs to have good, fulfilling lives. Ad he may still mellow out of it with time (though I wouldn't bet on it - some dogs just... their method of interaction starts things, which then escalate, and the risk is just much higher than any reward.)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm gonna jinx it by writing this, but since I made this thread it hasn't been an issue at all. And we have been around plenty of dogs since. It's funny that you say Kiran uses it as a play gesture. I am sure there is an element of overarousal going on with Brae but he does seem to use gestures like -tapping the other dog with his paw- as invitations to play. He's only humped dogs he wants to play with too. It's interesting that Kiran is humped by a lot of dogs especially since he doesn't seem overly submissive or obsessed with dog interactions (a lot of appeasing dogs I know who get humped a lot sort of 'ask for it'). I wonder if in line with the 'intact males are targeted' thing.

I totally agree with the 3 second rule and just moving on. It's what I do with most dog interactions we encounter.
 

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I don't doubt that stories of intact dogs being targeted - and it fits some of the recent research about neutered males being more inclined toward various types of aggression.

That said, I think for Kiran, most often he gets humped as a result of frustration and some over-arousal in the mix. Playing with dogs (that he doesn't live with) is very, very low priority for him. He will do it, but only if there is NOTHING else to do - no humans will engage, and he can't find so much as a LEAF to try to use to bait the humans into playing with him, and nothing environmentally interesting - and he won't do it for long in those scenarios. The dogs who hump him are most often very, very, insanely, 'magnetized' toward dogs/hyper dog-social types who want to PLAY WITH HIM A LOT OMG COME ON LET'S GO. So he'll play with them for maaaaaybe 5 minutes, then get bored and go try to find ANYTHING else to do that might be more fun. He'll go back sometimes, but then disengage again because really, it's just not his favorite. Or he'll do a very half-hearted version of play while trying to find something else to do.

If that continues with the very social dogs they just try harder and harder and harder to get his attention, getting more ramped up and frustrated by his lack of giving a crap/true engagement in the game they want to play and well - humping.

And if he hasn't succeeded in finding something Kiran gets highly ticked off by that nonsense and -

We just don't do that anymore, really. I guess clearly :p
 

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Ralphie used to do that. He was HORRIBLY humpy. Horrible. But he appears to have grown out of it. Around 2.5 he finally stopped trying to do it so much. Occasionally he will try, but it's only after he's played for a very long time and is starting to get tired. It that case, it's usually time to take a nap, lol.

I think that no matter how well trained your dog is...they're still pretty puppyish at that age and are awkward and obnoxious sometimes. They try different social interactions, act stupid, but then when they mature that need to be obnoxious seems to dissipate. I guess every dog I've ever had humped when they were young, but it usually just stopped around that 2.5-3 year old stage!
 

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Kiran was humpy when he was 9 weeks old. It honestly, then, seemed like some kind of invitation to play and was entirely ridiculous. Fortunately, these days the only dog he humps is Thud. And it is STILL a precursor to play. Where sane dogs would play bow, he jumps up and humps. Seems almost like 'PAY ATTENTION TO ME" type thing, though I know that's not an accepted read - it also seems like it works for him - with Thud, who is the only dog he does it with, anyway.

He is, however, often targeted to BE humped by other dogs. He was fine with that for quite a while (and, yeah, responded to it like it was a play invitation), but now? If he's actively engaged in an activity with me, he doesn't even notice/acknowledge because busy. If he's not or the other dog is what he's doing (ie: he's playing), he's out for blood.

So, um, I think my advice on this one is that I'd be implementing a 3 second rule when it comes with interacting with dogs you don't know or know won't handle it well. You know, greet 3 seconds and the MOVE ON.

Dogs don't need to play or meet a bunch of other dogs to have good, fulfilling lives. Ad he may still mellow out of it with time (though I wouldn't bet on it - some dogs just... their method of interaction starts things, which then escalate, and the risk is just much higher than any reward.)
Tessa was also humpy as a puppy, especially when tired or overstimulated. And she definitely does it when she wants to play, but it seems less of an invitation and more goading? You know, like how annoying little sisters do it.
She has only ever done it to Ida, at least that I can think of, but Ida is also the dog that she is most familiar with and has the most opportunity to play with, so it's entirely possible she'd try it on other dogs she felt safe around.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for bringing this back up! It hasn't been a problem since I posted. I modified our hiking habits. It used to be 'if the approaching dog is off leash and seems like it wants to approach, Brae can say hi'. I unintentionally put him onto some dogs who would probably not have directly made contact. Now the rule is, 'If the approaching dog clearly wants to come right up within sniffing distance, Brae can say hi'. It is amazing to me how dogs communicate from a distance and most dogs kinda curve into our path but choose to move away and move on without wanting to come into contact. The dogs who clearly do are either bold enough or fast enough that they can tolerate him well or even play with him.

Very cool how adding that little bit of wait-and-assess (a matter of a few seconds more) changed everything. He also is not frustrated at all if we pass by a dog who doesn't want to say hi.
 
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