Some puppies begin sexual mounting behavior at the tender age of 6 or 7 weeks, though it usually begins at about 12 weeks of age. It is self-rewarding behavior, in that it "feels good" to the pup. The problem rarely persists if the object of its attentions is made inaccessible. Unfortunately, many owners think that the behavior will disappear if they just let it run its course. They may allow the pup to mount until it reaches sexual climax. This, of course, makes the owner a subordinate sexual partner for the pet and can later develop into severe problems involving overprotection and biting.
Correction Mounting should be discouraged by withdrawing the target (leg, arm, clothing) in as startling a manner as possible, as the pup starts the mounting rather than when it is under way. Sexual experimentation seems to be a normal part of maturation in mammals. Therefore, in cases involving owners who allow the pup to persist in mounting, all family members should be brought into consultation to explain the possible side effects of the problem.
In extreme cases, the owner must establish a leadership position with the pup or dog, preferably away from their home ground at first. This can be accomplished through standard obedience programs in some cases. However, a nonphysical approach to teaching is usually quicker, even if the dog is taught only to sit and stay on command. Along with this regimen, the aggressive 'Romeo' must be distracted effectively before the overt mounting starts, with some strong intervening stimulus that takes its mind off the sex act. A food distraction is a poor substitute in most cases. Better is an invitation to play ball or otherwise engage in some strenuous physical activity that is enjoyed by the pet.
All unearned petting and praise must be stopped in cases of persistent mounting, even with very young offenders. If the pup pesters for attention, the owner should give it one of the simple commands until it obeys, then gently and briefly pet the animal and go on about some other business. After a few days to weeks of this type of correction, the puppy usually stops mounting and becomes oriented to the more typical play activity as a displacement mechanism. This type of problem pup may persist in mounting inanimate objects, such as the owner's clothing, pillows or bedclothes, in the absence of its living sex object. However, this behavior usually fades away after a few weeks. One helpful corrective aid is to remove things that stimulate the behavior when the owner must be absent.
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