Q My six-year-old spayed German Shepherd bitch often mounts my entire male Shepherd, who is a year younger. She shows no aggression, but why does she do this?
A Quite simply she is asserting herself over the dog. By placing her paws on the dog, she is sending a message that she is dominant and intends to keep him as the lower ranking pack member. Mounting is commonly seen between same sex dogs in order to establish procreation rights – the stronger dogs and bitches are those that mate within packs. Young dogs often mount each other during the onset of puberty, when their systems experience a hormonal surge and they try to establish seniority. Dogs may also attempt to mount their human owners in a bid to elevate their status if the owner appears weak to the dog. It is generally thought that spaying or neutering will stop such dominant behaviour, however, this is obviously not always the case. In my experience, a sharp word to the dominant dog is all that is required to stop the behaviour; obedience training to a reasonable standard when dogs are young (particularly) will enable a competent owner to do this. As an alternative, distract them by making a sharp sound and giving a firm command “no” or “off”. However, if you are distressed by it, I suggest that you contact Sue Gilmore, a highly experienced and qualified professional dog behaviourist, to help you overcome these episodes, which would appear to be harmless and dogs being dogs in this case.