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My Pet World: Why does a fixed female dog hump another female dog?

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Dear Cathy,

I have two female dogs: a lab mix who is almost five years old and a miniature schnauzer who is 12. Lately, the lab has been mounting the schnauzer. I'm curious as to why. Can you please give me some input on this behavior?

— Bill, Inwood, Long Island

Dear Bill,

Dogs hump each other for various reasons, only one of which is for mating. If your two dogs are spayed/neutered, whether females or males, they may hump each other to display dominance over the other. Some dogs also do it as part of playtime or when they get really excited, which is why they may hump the leg of a newly arrived guest in your home.

When dogs play bow (when their front end goes down and their hind end remains up) within a few seconds of humping another dog, she is trying to communicate to the other dog that this mounting behavior is all in good fun, and the other dog doesn't need to be threatened by it.

But even in play, many dogs don't like being mounted. The dog on the receiving end may look sad or stressed, move away or snap at the other dog, or even start a fight. Unless both dogs are doing this back and forth with each other in play (which is acceptable behavior), chances are the schnauzer doesn’t like it and you should make the lab stop. Tell the lab to "leave it" if she is trained to understand that command or to come to you when called. Your schnauzer may tolerate it more since they live together, but even two happy and friendly dogs can get into a tiff if one dog persistently humps the other.

Dear Cathy,

In regard to Wayne and his cat that poops in the tub, since the cat is seven months old and a stray, it may have been owned by someone who trained it to use the toilet. A sink or a tub may look more like a toilet than a cat pan. Has he tried leaving the toilet seat up to see if she will use it?

— Judy, Indiana

Dear Judy,

That’s a possibility I hadn’t considered, mostly because I assume most people litter-box train their cats. I think toilet training could be stressful for cats since their instincts are to cover up their waste and there is no way to do that on a toilet seat. I am curious though. If any of my readers have toilet trained their cat, please let me know how he or she responded to it.

Dear Cathy,

I read your column religiously in Newsday and hope you can help me with my cats. I have two tabbies that were adopted as kittens five years ago. They are brothers. About a year ago, tabby “A” started to bully tabby” B.” "B" then started spraying and urinating around the house. The bullying had gotten so bad that "B” was urinating blood. I brought “B” to the veterinarian, where he was checked out and is now on a low dose of Xanax. “A” was also checked out and was declared healthy. “A” doesn't hiss or growl as much. But “B” is still urinating around the house. I really don't know what else to do. Any suggestions?

— Sandy, Glen Cove, New York

Dear Sandy,

Since they are not ill, I suggest reintroducing them. I know they have lived together for five years, but it can sometimes help to separate them and reintroduce them slowly again. Give each cat their own room for a few days. Let each one out separately to wander around the house and check under the other cat's door.

After a few days, switch out blankets so they can adjust to their sibling's scent again. Then switch their rooms. When you feel they are comfortable with each other’s scent, let them sit in kennels in the same room but far apart. If that goes well, then that day or another day, let them out of the kennels to engage again. If they fight, start the process over but take each step more slowly this time.

Also, “B” is on Xanax. Is “A” on anything? There are calming chews for cats that promote relaxation and calm a cat's anxiety. Maybe if “A” is calmer, there will be more peace between them.

I also recommend plug-in pheromones for a multi-cat household and pheromone collars for the next 90 days. Pheromones don't resolve the problem, but can help take the edge off anxious cats.

(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

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