How many times have we seen a dog mount an object or another dog and we have looked modestly towards another place. And it is that masturbation continues to be an embarrassing topic, also when it comes to our furry friends.
But canine masturbation is normal and healthy behavior which, however, must be watched —and not hidden— because it could also show physical and/or behavioral problems.
Why do dogs masturbate… and why shouldn’t we be ashamed?
It is not necessary to be a veterinarian or a biologist to answer, at least partially, this question. Your dog masturbates mainly for the same reason you do: for pleasure.
But the relationship that the animal kingdom has with masturbation as a sexual activity, even though it is essentially similar to that of the human being, lacks the cultural component How important is it in our relationship with sex?
Thus, despite the progress in the normalization of sex as a natural and essential activity of the human being, there are still facets of it that arouse modesty, such as masturbation. Lucky for the dogs they are not ashamed to masturbate… unless their human tutors “educate” them to be ashamed which can have unexpected consequences, as described in this article by the veterinarian, ethologist and expert in behavior and relationships between animals and humans Myrna Milani.
The failure to inform the vet, out of shame or remorse, about masturbating a dog “prevents doctors from jumping to conclusions that may do more harm than good.” And it is that for the tutor of the case described by Milani, her dog “committed the worst sin of all”: He masturbated on a rug that the woman inherited from her grandmother, something that she only “reluctantly” told Dr. Milani, finally facilitating the diagnosis of the animal’s problem, which finally rejected relevant diseases.
So if your dog is masturbating and/or engaging in sexually active behavior—something that happens in 20-25% of dogs according to Milani— you shouldn’t be ashamed, or look the other way: stay tuned to their habits in case it was necessary to discuss it with the vet.
Benefits of canine masturbation
In order to understand masturbation in dogs, it is convenient, in the first instance, to relate it to that of other animals, since dogs They are by no means the only animals that masturbate..
A recent study presented by two German universities considers masturbation as a phylogenetically widespread trait in various mammals —besides humans— and some non-mammalian species.
The hypotheses about the causes that lead these animals to masturbate suggest various benefits such as improvement in the quality of ejaculation or decrease in the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections not ruling out, of course, that it is about an alternative to copulation providing a release of testosterone and, with it, stress.
However, the authors of the study warn that these theories do not explain some facets of masturbation in some species or why it is so widespread, also highlighting an interesting aspect: until now, the investigations They have essentially focused on male masturbation, the female being more unexplored which may be responsible for the “one-sided theory that attributes a specific biological benefit to masturbation.”
Thus, the researchers end up proposing that masturbation is (also) explained as a “behavior mainly of self-reinforcement that promotes pleasure”: I mean, back to the beginning, the main reason animals masturbate, including dogs, is for pure pleasure.
Apart from this, other benefits that explain canine masturbation are the routine semen extraction, genital cleansing, practice for future sexual encounters, or simple play. And we must not forget that, as Myrna Milani points out, “testosterone is one of the main stress hormones in males and females, and many of these animals experience stress in their domestic environments.” Thus, canine masturbation, both in males and females, even in neutered dogs, is a form of relaxation.
Excessive masturbation: causes and solutions
When does masturbation stop being a normal and healthy activity to become compulsive and alarming? To answer this question, nothing better than your ability to observe: if your dog changes his habits and exhibits compulsive sexual behavior, it’s time to see your vet.
Experts believe that mounting and/or masturbating once or twice a day can be a normal activity for the dog, but it all depends on the habits that your furry friend has. Any alteration in them is a good reason to consult a veterinarian and/or an ethologist.
And it is that excessive masturbation and/or the compulsive need to ride or rub against certain surfaces or toys can show a urinary problem, prostate conditions or skin allergies.
Likewise, and ruling out physical problems, compulsive masturbation may also be related to a behavioral disturbance: loneliness, anxiety and excess stress can also be behind changes in the sexual behavior of the animal.
As we have already seen, masturbation should not be a problem for which a “solution” must be found. That should be established by veterinary professionals. Once any physical and/or behavioral problem in our furry friend has been ruled out, It is time to assess whether their habits are a problem for other dogs and humans.
In this case, of course, you will have to intervene to avoid the inconvenience that may arise, for example, if he insists on riding other animals, all the more reason if it is not sterilized. Training the dog through positive reinforcement is the best tool in this case as well. Get to know your dog and anticipate their routines it is the way to avoid problems with other dogs and their human friends.
But always avoid aggressive attitudes because the dog could respond violently by harming other dogs or harming itself. So that, patience, understanding, anticipation and positive reinforcement are the best way to address these situations successfully.