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Why Does a Female Dog Hump After Being Spayed?

Matthew Nesbitt
By Matthew Nesbitt, Journalist specialized in animal research. July 9, 2024
Why Does a Female Dog Hump After Being Spayed?

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Spaying is a procedure which results in permanent sterilization of a dog. While there are some variations, in most cases it entails an ovariohysterectomy. This is the surgical removal of both the ovaries and the uterus. These reproductive organs produce sex hormones which influence canine behaviors such as humping. With this removal, it would seem clear that female dogs will stop humping behavior. Some guardians may still see their dog mount objects or other dogs, so why does a female dog hump after being spayed?

Humping behaviors can remain even after spaying, something which can be due to physical or behavioral reasons. AnimalWised reveals more about mounting and humping behavior in spayed female dogs.

  1. Do female dogs hump after being spayed?
  2. Why does a female dog hump after being spayed?
  3. Can a spayed dog get pregnant if she humps another dog?
  4. What to do if a spayed female dog is humping

Do female dogs hump after being spayed?

Humping is a behavior most associated with male dogs since they carry it out during the mating act. However, humping is a common behavior in both male and female dogs that are sexually intact. Female dogs that have not been spayed will enter their estrus cycle, otherwise known as going into heat. This occurs around an average of twice per year and is accompanied by various physical and behavioral changes.

In addition to an engorged vulva, blood spotting, yowling and even trying to escape, a female dog that is sexually intact will often mount and hump various objects. They do this because the release of sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. These hormones drive them to mate, causing them frustration when they cannot. Humping helps them to release some of this frustration by mimicking the mating act.

Spaying in dogs is a procedure which results in permanent sterilization and an inability to become pregnant. There are certain variations in spaying, but the most common practice is to remove both the uterus and the ovaries. This is a surgical procedure known as an ovariohysterectomy. Since these sex organs produce sex hormones, their removal suggests the cessation of sexual behaviors.

In most cases, the female dog's sexual behaviors will stop completely. This does not happen in every case and it is possible for a female dog to continue humping after being spayed. The first thing we should note is that it is normal and not usually something we should worry about. There may be some negative reasons behind this mounting behavior, so we look at them below to see if any action needs to be taken.

Learn more about the general reasons why dogs mount specific objects with our article on why a female dog humps a stuffed toy.

Why does a female dog hump after being spayed?

One of the first things we need to consider when a spayed dog is humping is the context of the behavior. This means when it happens, where it happens and what else is affecting the dog at this time. With this context in mind, we can look at some of the reasons why a female dog humps after being spayed:

  • Residual hormones: although a dog will usually stop mounting behavior when they have been spayed, it is possible they will still hump for a short time after the procedure. Although the sex organs have been removed, there may still be some hormones left in their system which influence this behavior. They may even hump to ease the sensations caused by the spay incision.
  • Learned behavior: the developmental stage at which the dog is spayed is important. Dogs should be spayed when they are still a puppy, ideally before their first heat. If this doesn't happen, behaviors such as mounting and humping can become normalized. Even if they still do not produce much sex hormone, they might enjoy the act and do it out of habit.
  • Enjoyment: the sensation of humping can be pleasurable for the dog. Especially if they have been spayed after they experience their first heat, they may still mount as they enjoy the sensation.
  • Stress: since humping can be a pleasurable sensation, dogs may do it more when they are experiencing periods of stress. Whatever the cause of the dog's stress, they may hump to feel better. This is similar to many behavioral changes which can occur when a dog is stressed.
  • Boredom: stress and boredom are often related. Different dogs need different levels of physical and mental stimulation. When a dog is not given the stimulation they require, it will lead to boredom and frustration. Humping can be a way to communicate this boredom to caregivers as well as simply ease their tension.
  • Disease: while it is rare, it is possible there is a problem related to the spaying procedure. If a uterine remnant is left after the procedure, they can still produce sex hormones resulting in humping. It can even result in an infection such as pyometra in dogs. This is a serious infection which will produce other symptoms such as lethargy, inappetence and even toxic shock if sepsis occurs. Humping may occur early on as a way to relieve the discomfort. Other issues such as dermatitis may cause the spayed dog to hump for similar reasons.

Learn more about potential health issues experienced by female dogs with our article on whether a spayed dog can get pyometra.

Can a spayed dog get pregnant if she humps another dog?

We mentioned that some hormones will remain after a dog is spayed, but these will eventually be released from her system. After this point, other glands can secrete sex hormones, but they do so to such a small degree that they do not normally affect a dog's behavior.

Immediately after a dog is spayed, she can no longer become pregnant. Her uterus and ovaries are necessary for fertilization of eggs and subsequent gestation of puppies. Even if there is a uterine remnant, this will not be enough to allow for successful fertilization.

A female dog may hump objects or even other dogs in the home. However, this is not the same as the normal mating act in dogs. If a male dog humps a sexually intact female during copulation it can result in pregnancy. This will not happen with a dog that is spayed.

Since the mating act in dogs is preceded by hormonal release, it is much less likely that a male will try to hump a spayed female. However, if the male dog still performs mounting behavior for other reasons or the female has some residual hormones, it may occur. It can be distressing for the female, but it will not result in pregnancy. In general, the potential for stress means it should be discouraged.

Learn about any possible complications after spaying a dog with our related guide.

Why Does a Female Dog Hump After Being Spayed? - Can a spayed dog get pregnant if she humps another dog?

What to do if a spayed female dog is humping

Now we know why a spayed female dog may continue humping, we likely want to know whether we need to do anything about this behavior. We have explained that the dog cannot become pregnant. Moreover, attention from sexually intact male dogs will be minimized. If we are out walking with the dog or they are running off leash, it is likely not to cause a problem.

For this reason, we may not need to do anything if a dog occasionally humps. It may be something amusing or distracting, but it is not likely a problematic behavior.

The underlying cause of the spayed dog's humping may require action on behalf of their guardian. If a dog is humping because they are stressed, bored or have a physical health problem, we need to intervene. The first thing we need to do is take them to a veterinarian for assessment. They can either rule out a physical health problem or administer the correct treatment where necessary.

Once a physical problem has been ruled out, we will need to address any behavioral issues:

  • Stress: even relatively slight changes in a dog's routine can lead to stress. We need to ensure we provide support to the dog and reaffirm a healthy routine. They may also need socialization and other forms of education to help them deal with the stressors in their lives.
  • Boredom: we first need to asses the dog's physical and cognitive needs, then implement strategies to meet these needs. For example, some dogs may need to be walked more, while others might need to perform more strenuous exercise. We also need to simply spend time with them and use cognitive stimulation tactics such as intelligence games for dogs.

If you cannot adequately assess your dog, it may be helpful to engage the help of a dog trainer or a canine ethologist. These professionals can best assess your dog's needs and organize specific strategies to help them according to their individual needs.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does a Female Dog Hump After Being Spayed?, we recommend you visit our Pregnancy problems category.

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Why Does a Female Dog Hump After Being Spayed?