My Dog Is Mounting My Cat. What Do I Do Now?

4 02 2009

Recently, we received a concerned mother’s e-mail about some activity that would concern most pet parents.  I have copied the most concerning and embarrassing issues for you to read as well.  Due to the embarrassing nature of the problem, I have redacted the puppy’s name to protect his identity.

I’ve recently noticed, as my puppy [redacted] is now about 8 months, he’s doing something which is causing a bit of concern. We have an 8 month old kitten, Maya, (has yet to go into heat and has not been spayed yet), and the two of them have grown up around each other most of their lives, so they get along wonderfully and are great friends. Lately, I’ve noticed that while [redacted] & Maya are playing, he’s been trying to mate with her, and the frequency has been increasing over time.

cat-dog-bird-harmonyThis is not so uncommon for a puppy of his age, so I can understand it right now.  It would be far more concerning if this were occurring a year or more from now.  Right now, this dog is essentially going through puberty.  Remember how awkward and weird that time felt for you?  I certainly do. All of a sudden, I had GIANT feet and a body that grew inches every day.  It was also mentioned that he can also get a little “excited” during general playtime.  This is a time in his development where his hormones are raging, and since he does not really have any experience with them, he is confused by them and not sure what to do.  The important thing to remember here is that his behavior is immediately corrected and the play is also immediately ceased.

During doggie puberty, where dogs will also begin to challenge their humans for the dominant position, or “alpha.”  This behavior in UNACCEPTABLE, and it must not continue.  It may not seem like something important to humans, and they may laugh or joke over it, but it is very real to the dog.  He is showing dominant behavior and challenging his person, who is allowing to happen.  From here, things can only get worse.  Any inappropriate behavior that a dog is doing whether it be to a cat, person or another dog must be corrected, as our reader is doing.  Continuing to correct the behavior with a firm “NO!” is a good start, but it needs to go further than that.  This behavior warrants a complete separation of the two immediately.  It was not mentioned, but if the kitten involved still has all four claws, I suspect that as she ages, she will get pretty tired of that behavior and she will put a stop to it.  This will not be a good day for the dog, but a pretty good smack across his face with those claws will teach him a new lesson.  Mom calls that a “Come to Jesus” moment.

Now, let’s talk a little about male canine sexuality.  Our reader is under the impression that a male dog’s need to mate can be satisfied with two occurrences a year, and that will keep him under control and healthy.  I have never heard this, nor has Tax or Mom.  They are pretty sure that a human male could not handle a male dog being neutered and told her that story.  In fact, male dogs WILL NOT become more emotionally stable with sexual experience.

Testosterone, the male hormone, begins affecting male canine behavior before a puppy is even born.  Just prior to birth, while still in their mother’s womb, they experience a surge of testosterone through their bodies.  This sets them up to be “masculinized” outside her body.  Of course, this is something that female pups do not experience.  A scientific study showed that nerve cells in the spine are affected by testosterone, causing a male pup to develop his behavior of mounting.  Male puppies as young as five weeks have been seen showing mounting and clasping behaviors.  This is entirely due to the testosterone he has surging through his pubescent body.  Right now, he is experiencing secondary sex characteristics.  If he is exposed to a female in season “heat,” he will mount her if she allows him, and the pieces of the puzzle he is currently confused by will fit together.

While that may cease his desire to mount, it is not a substitute for neutering him.  Remember, “fixing” a dog, regardless of gender, should be practiced for several reasons.  I discussed them in detail here, but I will summarize as well.  The most obvious is to avoid more puppies being born into an already over-populated world.  It is also good for the health of the dog as he or she ages.  For the males, neutering can certainly help to modify a behavior problem, particularly with aggression.  “Fixing” a dog will not ALWAYS be an answer to a behavior problem, whether male or female, but it can certainly help.

The issue of inappropriate mounting is not restricted to males only.  Female dogs have been known to mount cats, people, and other dogs, even males.  A female dog practicing such behavior is simply trying to show dominance.  Humans must be aware that whether they have a male or female dog, the HUMAN is the “alpha,” and it is their responsibility to correct inappropriate behavior in their pack.

If there are any reasons that you do not want to have your dog fixed yet, consider the following:  If he is a registered, purebred dog with wonderful traits that you feel need to be passed on, please check with the breeder (and maybe even some of the other people of his litter mates to make sure your experience is not unique.  There could be undesirable things among his litter mates that he is not exhibiting.  Often, breeders may not be aware of a problem or characteristic among one of their until they are told.

So, if you are not ready to get him the “Big Snip,” you MUST establish your role as the alpha and let him know what behavior you will and will not tolerate in your pack!

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