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Why Do Dogs Hump The Air? 9 Real Causes + What To Do

Why Do Dogs Hump The Air

You’re not currently playing any pop songs…

But your pooch humps the air, and it looks like they’re twerking.

It can be both entertaining and bothersome.

So what could be the cause of an instant behavior?

And should you be worried?

In this article, you’ll find out:

  • 9 real causes why your dog humps the air.
  • How to tell whether the humping is sexual or not.
  • 5 things to do when your dog hip-thrusts into the air.
  • 3 underlying medical conditions that can cause your dog to hump the air.
  • And a lot more…

Why do dogs hump the air?

Dogs hump the air due to excitement, arousal, playfulness, boredom, or stress. Other times, you could also consider UTI, priapism, and skin allergies. If their genitals are swelling, it might be vaginitis or balanoposthitis. 

9 reasons why dogs hump the air

#1: Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Your pooch might be thrusting their hips to relieve pain from UTI. 

However, this is only the case if they’re leaking pee everywhere. 

What I mean is that while they walk, they strain their urine. 

Sometimes, you can even hear them whining as they do so. 

Plus, their pee has a strong odor. 

If you notice all of these, it might be UTI. 

“What causes UTI?”

It occurs when bacteria cling to your pooch’s genitals.

These bacteria travel to your dog’s urethra. Then, it makes its way into the bladder, where it contaminates sterile urine. There, it reproduces and causes bacterial infection.

Here are other symptoms of UTI to help you assess:

  • Blood in the urine.
  • Whining while urinating.
  • Persistent licking of the genitals.

Warning: UTI is common among dogs. It’s a painful infection for your canine and causes extreme discomfort. 

That’s why your pooch is so determined to hump and ease the pain.

Read also: Why does my dog smell like ammonia?

#2: Boredom

As a dog parent, a dog’s boredom can be our nemesis.

Dogs need stimulation every day – both for their mental and physical well-being. 

That’s why boredom is the root of many unwanted behaviors. 

Among other things, an unwanted behavior could be humping the air.

They do it because they don’t have anything better to do. 

“Are dogs even capable of being bored?”

Experts say absolutely; they can!

Here are other examples of behaviors that your dog can learn due to boredom: 

  • Persistent barking.
  • Nibbling on your shoes.
  • Going through the trash.
  • Chewing anything that they can get their paws on.

Moreover, research tells us what’s the definition of animal boredom, and it’s:

Depriving them of objects and activities that they care for.

Overall, boredom makes your pooch an unhappy and disobedient one. 

Read also: Why do dogs scratch the couch? & Why does my dog scratch at the wall?

#3: Excitement

Imagine this:

You weren’t able to come home for lunch.

That’s why when you set foot in your apartment…

Your dog who’s been waiting for you, jumps on your foot.

You tell them to wait while you settle yourself.

But, they persist. And, next thing you know, they’re humping your foot.

That means they’re too excited to see you!

They might even pee at you because they’re bursting with excitement.

That’s not the only applicable scenario. 

Your dog shows this excited behavior when they meet other beings, too. Regardless if it’s another canine or a new hooman friend. 

Sometimes, they even get so excited when you pet them. You’ll be surprised that your pooch is now humping your arm

If they didn’t get to hump their source of excitement, they’d still display it somewhere else.

Maybe on any nearby object, their bed or toy. 

Read also: 13 Surprising Reasons Why Your Dog Grunts Like A Pig

#4: Releasing tension

Have you seen a movie scene where they smash things? 

Particularly a scene where the character swings a bat to an old TV. They do it to release pent-up feelings. 

Unfortunately, your pooch can’t do the same thing when they feel tension.

That’s why they might result in humping the air instead.

“What can cause my dog to feel tension?”

It’s from feeling stressed. Which may be caused by the following:

  • Visual stimuli such as  hats, mirrors, umbrellas, etc. 
  • Sudden changes like moving the couch or replacing it.
  • The presence of an unfamiliar person or a new addition to your fur family, may it be a cat or a dog.
  • Loud noises. It can be car alarms, thunder, construction noises, or loud music. Other times it can be from the inside of your home, like the vacuum or even the TV.

And humping couldn’t be the only behavior they do to release tension. 

These are other behaviors that can be related to stress:

#5: Sexual frustration

Dogs Hump The Air Due To Sexual Frustration

Humping the air is commonly expected to be a sexual behavior. 

With other reasons present, it’s made clear that it’s not.

But, of course, it can still be the case.

Humping is normal sexual behavior for dogs – female or male. But only for those that are unspayed or unneutered.

And it’s not just the air. Your dog’s bed, toys, the couch’s pillows, or your legs are not safe.

When this happens, it can mean that your dog’s sexual needs aren’t met. 

They’re frustrated and have a lot of energy to dispense.

For male dogs, this could occur all year round.

However, for female dogs, it’s only present during their heat cycle.

That heat cycle is called the ‘estrous cycle’. 

They undergo this cycle at least twice a year. Then, it will last for at least 2 to 4 weeks.

PetMD tells us that during this cycle, female dogs release distinct pheromones.

These pheromones have a distinct smell. And it’s what male dogs detect.

When Fido smells these pheromones, it arouses them. 

“My dog’s still a puppy. But when can I expect this behavior to start?”

According to AKC, sexual maturity usually starts between 6 to 9 months of age. 

But, it still depends on their size.

That’s why older dog breeds’ sexual maturity could be older than mentioned.

Check out also: 13 tips to calm a sexually excited dog

#6: Priapism and paraphimosis

Noticed that your dog’s lipstick is constantly out?

Sometimes, dog parents even admit that it could make them mildly embarrassed.

And so they might say, “Eyo, Fido, put that back in!”

But what if Fido can’t help it?

“How could that be the case?”

He might be experiencing a rare condition called priapism. 

Research tells us that it causes a persistent erection in your dog. It can happen even without any sexual stimulation.

It can last for 4 hours until several days. 

During that time, your dog might exhibit humping behavior. They do it to alleviate the pain.

Waning: Priapism is different from ‘paraphimosis’. 

The latter happens when there’s a struggle to put their penis back into the foreskin. Usually, it’s a case of priapism that progressed.

What are the other causes of paraphimosis?

  • Repetitive licking.
  • Sexual excitement.
  • Fracture in their penis.
  • Over-humping different objects.
  • Underlying neurological disease.
  • Contamination of foreign bodies under the skin.

Here are other signs of paraphimosis:

  • Smelly discharge.
  • Trouble urinating.
  • Swelling of the penis’ foreskin.
  • Excessive licking of their genitals.

#7: Vaginitis or Balanoposthitis

Your pooch’s humping might be involuntary. 

All they want is to reduce the pain they’re feeling. That pain is from their genital swelling.

Vaginitis in female dogs

It’s a rare condition that refers to the swelling of the vagina. 

It may occur at any age and breed.

As stated by vets, here are the causes of vaginitis:

  • UTI.
  • Tumors.
  • Vaginal trauma.
  • Anatomical abnormalities.
  • Bacterial or viral infection.
  • Sexually immature vagina.
  • Presence of contaminating foreign bodies.

The symptoms are:

  • Frequent urination.
  • Constant licking of the vaginal area.
  • Vaginal discharge with mucus, pus, or (rarely) blood. 

Note: A study tells us that the vaginal discharge from this condition can arouse male dogs. 

Balanoposthitis and balanitis in male dogs

During a normal erection, your dog’s penis is swollen. You can expect their penis to return to normal after an hour or so.

But what if it continues swelling?

Then you notice these other signs, too:

  • Lethargy.
  • Inapettence.
  • Whining due to discomfort.
  • Abnormal discharge from the prepuce.

That could mean that your pooch has balanoposthitis. However, if their prepuce is the only thing that’s swollen, it’s called balanitis.

Both conditions are caused by:

  • UTI.
  • Dermatitis.
  • Paraphimosis.
  • Penile trauma.
  • Presence of a foreign body.
  • Infection – bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitical.

#8: Feeling playful

A dog’s way of showing playfulness differs from another. 

This time, your pooch shows it by humping the air.

Other times, they can show playfulness through:

  • Waggy tail.
  • Leaning to you.
  • Running around.
  • Bouncy movements.
  • Pushing their nose to your legs (it looks like they’re head-butting you).

Dogs are one of the most playful creatures.

But, did you know, some breeds are generally more playful?

It’s because they have high energy levels.

These breeds are:

  • Boxer.
  • Pomeranians.
  • French bulldog.
  • Golden retrievers.
  • Labrador retrievers.
  • And many more…

You might also be interested in: Why does my dog bring me toys?

#9: Skin allergies

Dogs don’t have fingers that can reach areas of their body.

So, when they feel an itch on their rear, they’d find a way to scratch it.

With that, maybe your pooch isn’t air humping. 

Instead, they could be trying to scratch their behind.

This is usually the case if you see them twerking against the couch. 

Not just that, it could also be against a table leg, the carpet, or the wall.

An allergy might cause this itchy feeling.

That allergy can either be from food or environmental conditions.

Regardless of the allergen, here are symptoms of skin allergy:

  • Red skin.
  • Sneezing. 
  • Greasy skin.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Evident yeasty smell.
  • Licking of the red area.

Further reading: 7 Weird Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Themselves + 5 Solutions

What should I do when my dog humps the air?

#1: Take them to the vet

As you’ve read, you now know that it may be an underlying medical condition. 

Plus, everything’s also sudden. 

If that’s the case, you must get your pooch checked by their vet.


They will need to undergo a urinalysis to confirm if it’s UTI. 

They will be treated based on the specific bacteria detected. 


If this is the case, identify your dog’s stressor. Once you do, extract them away from it.

Warning: If your pooch displays constantly stressed behaviors, seek their vet’s help. 

It’s because your dog’s stress might have a medical basis.

If there’s not, the vet might suggest a behaviorist.

“What can I do to reduce my dog’s stress?”

Physical activity is an effective way to release tension. 

Make sure to exercise them regularly. As their dog parent, play with them as much as possible.

You should also provide a safe space for your dog.

So whatever’s stressing your dog shouldn’t be present in your home.

Fido will appreciate a calm place he can retreat and relax in.

Priapism and paraphimosis

Fortunately, if it’s mild, you can get rid of it in your home. 

All you need is a lubricant to apply to their penis. Then, you have to push or massage the penis back in gently. 

However, vets tell us amputation may be necessary in some cases. That’s only done if they couldn’t identify the underlying cause.  

Plus, vets also say that eliminating the causes is the best treatment.

With that, here’s how you can prevent this condition from your dog:

  • Keep their hair at the tip of the prepuce short.
  • Regularly clean their genitals to prevent germs from accumulating.
  • Prevent them from humping persistently on random objects or people.


Take your canine to the vet if you notice this case.

To diagnose this condition, she will have to undergo urinalysis. Along with sensitivity tests, vaginoscopy, and urine culture.


Treatments you can expect according to MSD Vet Manual:

  • Cutting long hair from the prepuce. 
  • Flushing the preputial cavity with an antiseptic.
  • If infections occur, your dog will use an antibiotic ointment. 

Skin allergies

Take your canine to the vet for a complete physical exam.

Present your observations to their vet.

It will also help to take note of the frequency and possible allergens.

It’s because the vet will have to identify the cause. 

Once the allergens are known, Fido will proceed to treatment.

You can expect topical and oral medications. 

#2: Distract them when they start

Humping is expected behavior in dogs.

However, if it starts to bother you, there could be a way to get rid of it. 

You can stop the behavior from happening beforehand.

To do so, call out your dog’s name or tell them an assertive ‘stop’ before they do it. 

“How can I know they’re about to do it?”

These are the pre-humping behaviors you have to determine:

“But what if it doesn’t work?”

Oh, you got ignored by your pooch?

Then, resort to plan B, which is distracting them.

Do something to redirect their focus.

One example is throwing a treat in their way. 

You could also ask them to do some tricks for you. 

Especially if they hump to be playful or show excitement. It will redirect and use their energy. 

#3: Stimulate them

As I said, boredom is a dog parent’s nemesis. 

Prevent unwanted behaviors by stimulating your dog.

Here’s what you can do not to make your dog feel bored:

  • Keep them socialized. Take your dog to play dates with other canines.
  • Establish a regular exercise routine for your dog. Walk them regularly and consistently.
  • Keep them mentally stimulated, too. Provide them with stimulating interactive toys.  Like this wobbly feeder that dispenses treats for your pooch.
  • Play games with them. Whenever you’re in the dog park, play fetch with them. It’s raining outside? Then you can play ‘treat hunt’ with them inside your house.

#4: Avoid encouragement

Dogs learn to reinforce the behavior if you give them attention.

They’d think that the action is a worthy one. It’s because you recognize them while they’re doing it.

So, if it’s not much of a bother, avoid giving your pooch attention when they hump.

Doing so will discourage your pooch from doing it.

Moreover, once they’re done humping, that’s when you recognize them. 

It’ll condition them to think that humping doesn’t reward anything, but behaving does.

#5: Consider spaying or neutering

If your dog’s humping becomes so troublesome, it may be time to consider spaying or neutering. 

According to AKC, a dog can undergo this process after their sexual maturity. 

A study tells us that castration can be effective in altering behaviors such as humping.

Other behaviors that spaying or neutering can alter are:

  • Roaming.
  • Urine marking.
  • Aggressive tendencies.

The biggest benefit castration can offer

Castration can decrease the number of unwanted puppies and euthanasia.

Did you know? 1 out of 5 shelter dogs gets euthanized each year. 

Plus, the total of dogs who enter shelters each year is a spiking 3.3 million. 

That’s why castrating is now a part of responsible dog parenting.

People also ask:

Is it normal for dogs to hump the air?

Humping the air is normal behavior for dogs. It’s usually due to sexual arousal, playfulness, or excitement. However, in some cases, it can be a symptom of a medical condition.

The most known reason for a dog humping is sexual arousal. In this case, your pooch releases their sexual energy. 

The behavior’s also connected to playfulness or excitement. That’s why, sometimes, when you pet a dog, they hump your arm. 

If humping becomes chronic, it can have a medical basis. Especially if other unusual symptoms are present 

The first thing to do is to look at your pooch’s genitals. Check if it’s swollen or excreting unusual discharge.

Any of the two, or both, can be a medical problem.

It’s best to seek the help of your dog’s veterinarian to receive a proper diagnosis.