Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Is this normal?

We've mentioned that Spartacus has a very hands on, rough housing style when it comes to playing with other dogs. He was labeled a "doggy nerd" when he used to go to doggy daycare; the staff said he didn't pick up on social cues and tried to play with dogs that weren't interested. In short, he could get annoying. After hearing this, it doesn't surprise us that many dogs and especially their owners don't appreciate some of the moves in his bag of tricks. Particularly when he mounts. Not humps, mounts. Grabs a dog's torso with his paws and just squeezes. What's even weirder? Front mounting. See below:

To our knowledge, he started this behavior in May 2013 when he spent a month with us back at the family plant nursery in Florida. My dad had recently adopted a new dog, Ollie. Ollie had no problem with the mounting, she thought it was great fun. Sparty learned that when he front mounted Ollie, she did his favorite thing in the world: jump up and wrestle in the air!

Sparty and Ollie went on to enjoy a platonic love affair that summer.

This was pre-Delilah. Back then, Spartacus didn't socialize much with other dogs on a regular basis. He was too stressed at doggy daycare, barking whenever the staff left the room. So we stopped taking him on their advice. He was also showing signs of being leash reactive on our walks, and we weren't too comfortable putting him in situations with strange dogs off leash. But the family plant nursery is ten acres of non-fenced-in tropical goodness, complete with a swimming pool, two ponds, and a canal. Sparty respects the boundaries of the property, but no fence means plenty of neighborhood dogs wander over daily. To our delight, Sparty excelled during this month stay in Florida. He bonded closely with Ollie, and had lots of good experiences with strange dogs too.

Unfortunately, he left with his new habit: mounting. We've seen him front mount dogs at the park, and the dogs will literally just freeze in bewilderment. Nor can we recall ever seeing another dog mount quite like Sparty. We're lead to believe front-mounting (or mounting without humping) is not universal for dogs. We make sure to correct Sparty when he does this to strange dogs who clearly feel uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, Boxers don't seem to mind and often return with some punches, just what he was looking for! It's just a weird situation for the most part and Sparty has no idea how annoying he is to other dogs!

We know our guy has some screws loose, and we're really committed to teaching him to chill out. But he manages to be such a lover too...

Is this mounting behavior normal/have you observed your own dog or other dogs engaging in this type of play?

How would your dog react if Sparty came up and front mounted them? 


  1. I think your Spartacus and my Barry must really be the same dog with different spots! Barry does this exact thing. Front mount. Very annoying for other dogs and quite embarrassing for us just when we think he's being so well behaved...

    I think he learned the original mounting behavior from his Golden Doodle cousin, Paxton. From then on if he is allowed to meet a new dog that's close to his size he mounts front and back. I think he doesn't quite understands what it means to mount but he just knows the basic instinct of being more dominant - even if it is in play. So he just goes for the mount whatever direction the other dog may be standing.

    If Sparty mounted Barry he would probably play back and mount in response!

    1. I'm glad we're not alone on this! Maybe Barry has some Boxer in him, as it seems to really be a Boxer thing to do. When I was at the dog park earlier with my little Delilah, I noticed some other Boxer mixes engaging in play like that and loving every moment of it. For Spartacus I think it's a combo of breed, dominance, and lack of early socialization.

      Here's to hoping our rambunctious boys don't mount the wrong dog!