Your Dog expert Tamsin Durston helps a reader understand the reasons behind her Border Collie's habit of mounting other dogs.
Q: During play with another dog of any gender, my Border Collie will mount the other dog, holding tight with his front paws. I’ve never seen another dog take exception to this behaviour, but most owners do, so I have to tell him to stop, which he always does (only to remount a short while later). What does this behaviour mean?
Your Dog reader, Oxfordshire.
Tamsin says: Male dogs mount females when mating, so mounting or humping is often thought of as a purely sexual activity — but it isn’t always.
Have your dog checked by your vet. Sometimes, mounting can be a way to alleviate pain or tension, and it’s well worth ruling out any discomfort.
Mounting can be done by any dog when they’re feeling excited, anxious, or frustrated. With your dog it sounds as though there is a pattern following energetic and/or playful encounters that have reached a point at which your dog no longer wants to continue.
Mounting the other dog might offer a way to prevent them doing anything else your collie might not be able to cope with.
You can help him by practising your recall, particularly when other dogs are present, to feel more confident about calling him away before he starts playing or before he would normally start mounting.
Take a toy your dog enjoys playing with, and reward him for recalling back to you. If he enjoys playing with you outside in a predictable way, he should have less need to play with dogs whose behaviour he is unable to predict. You could also pop him on-lead and play with him or scatter treats for him yourself to distract him from other dogs.
Lessons with an accredited instructor, such as those sourced through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, or Dogs Trust’s Dog Schools, could be an enjoyable way to practise valuable skills and give you both more confidence.