For many dog owners, canine companions are like children. You do everything for them, shower them in kisses, and show immense pride when they heed your training to do something "right." The bond humans forge with dogs is beautiful!
So when your dog does something to imply that they're sexually attracted to you, it can give you the heebie-jeebies! When you treat your dog like an innocent child, nothing is grosser than seeing that "red rocket" appear or having to scold them because they try to hump you. It's icky and uncomfortable enough to send any dog owner into a panic.
But what's really going on here? Can dogs get sexually attracted to humans, or is it a case of mixed signals?
Canine to Human Attraction: Is It a Real Thing?
We'll cut to the chase:
Dogs can't get sexually attracted to humans. Your dog's feelings towards you are the same as what you have toward them: Strictly platonic!
Despite how it looks, your dog isn't trying to make a pass at you, and there are no strange perversions you need to address. What your dog does that makes you uncomfortable is normal.
Most living creatures on this planet are programmed to want sex. But humans are the only ones that want sex for pleasure. For animals, sexual activity revolves around one thing: Reproduction.
Like any other animal, your dog has instincts that encourage them to reproduce and spread the population. Despite thousands of years of domestication, that's an instinct that remains. No matter how cute, cuddly, and innocent your dog seems, they're hardwired to reproduce.
Those biological impulses are perfectly natural, and your dog may express those urges in many uncomfortable ways. But unlike humans, dogs have no shame!
Humans are the only species with those moral conundrums and concepts of "PG sensibilities." Dogs do what comes naturally to them, which might include seemingly crude behaviors.
There are many reasons why dogs can't experience sexual attraction to humans. Here are just a few.
We're Built Differently
The biggest reason why dogs can't feel attraction toward humans is that we're not built the same way they are. The genomes are incompatible, which is why they can't connect and create a strange hybrid creature. Dogs have the same genomes despite differences in breeds. That's how cross-breeding exists, but it's not possible to mix genetic data between a dog and a human.
As a result, dogs are not wired to be attracted to humans. It's biologically impossible to reproduce with humans, so the concept is something that doesn't even cross your dog's mind.
Animals have something known as "reproductive isolation." Simply put, reproductive isolation is a mechanism that prevents cross-species attraction. The DNA of dogs and humans are different, making cross-breeding an impossibility. The mating rituals are different, too. The same goes for cats and dogs, apes and dogs, etc.
Reproductive isolation is why you don't catch different species trying to mate.
Attempting interspecies mating can occur, albeit incredibly rarely. Even in those instances, it's more of a matter of hormones rather than a weird sexual perversion.
Dogs Experience Attraction Differently
Another reason dogs can't get attracted to humans is that the concept of sexual attraction is different.
As mentioned earlier, humans are the only species that have sex for reasons other than reproduction. Dogs don't experience lust. They don't pick potential mates based on looks or personality, either. For dogs, it's all about reproduction and competition.
A Lack of Proper Pheromones
Finally, humans don't give off the pheromones dogs need to pursue a mate. When females are in heat, they give off the Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate pheromone.
It's one of many pheromones that trigger reproductive instincts in dogs. In many cases, it's what gets male dogs riled up and aggressive enough to compete with others to mate.
You don't give off this hormone, so there's no way for male dogs to think that you're a worthy mating candidate. It simply doesn't work with their biology.
Mixed Signals That Don't Mean What You Think
Now that we know that dogs can't get sexually attracted to humans let's review some reasons people think they do. We said earlier that humans are the only creatures that have complex sensibilities about sex.
Some people view specific acts and behaviors as inappropriate. Therefore, we see dogs doing something similar and automatically assume they exhibit sexually aggressive behavior.
In reality, that's not the case. Those uncomfortable behaviors that appear sexual are nothing more than a case of mixed signals! Here's a breakdown of some of the most common mistaken actions and their true meaning.
Ever watch in disgust as your dog tries to hump your leg? Your gut reaction is probably to push them off and scold them. It's one of the more unsettling behaviors. But fear not: There's no sexual attraction tied to this behavior, despite how it looks.
Dogs hump for a variety of reasons.
For puppies, it is like a rehearsal for future sexual encounters. It doesn't mean that your pup has the hots for you. Most puppies will mount anything they can get their little paws on, including your leg! They may also hump a toy, pillow, or couch.
Many pups will also hump because of excitement. When things get crazy, they resort to humping as a way to calm down. They may also realize it feels good and hump more! Fortunately, that urge dies down as they reach adulthood.
Adult dogs will hump for a few reasons, too.
If your male dog is unneutered, it's likely to hump more often. The same goes for unspayed females in heat. For males, it's a way to let out sexual frustration. It's comparable to masturbation.
If there are no females to mate with, or you scold them every time they try to mate, they can hump to release some pent-up energy. You may see humping occur when they get over-excited. Again, it's a way to calm down and release energy.
While you can look at it as masturbation, your leg is nothing more than a surface to let out your frustration. There's no sexual attraction involved.
Females may hump and rub themselves on objects to spread their scent. When they're in heat, hormones rage! Chemical responses in the body tell them to find suitable partners. But, like males, they need to satisfy the urge to procreate by humping objects. The behavior spreads the scent, making it easier for suitable males to find them.
Fortunately, humping becomes less frequent for males and females as they age. As their sexual maturity draws close and they reach the later parts of their life, those instincts become less intense.
Despite the sexual connotation, humping has nothing to do with attraction toward you.
Dogs love to smell crotches! It can be a little embarrassing and awkward. However, it has nothing to do with their attraction to you or your hygiene. Instead, it's about investigating you and learning more about you.
Dogs have an impeccable sense of smell. It's substantially stronger than a human's, and dogs have more receptors to gain more information. So, what are they smelling?
It could be the scent of another dog you passed by or even remnants of your lunch!
Alternatively, they could be smelling your pheromones. Humans don't give off the same pheromones that dogs need to initiate sex. However, you have apocrine glands that release pheromones dogs can pick up.
Those pheromones contain tons of information about you and your mood. They just so happen to be in the genital area. Apocrine glands are also in the armpit, so your dog might go in for a whiff when you're lying down.
The odorless pheromones are how your dog checks up on you. Depending on recent activity, they may be investigating a new pheromone they don't smell all the time. For example, they can get more information after you've given birth or had sex. Dogs also tend to be more conscious when someone is on their period.
The dreaded "red rocket!" This uncomfortable situation occurs when a male's penis comes out of its sheath. It's insanely noticeable due to the bright red or pink color. It's akin to a human erection and is one of the more uncomfortable things to witness.
It's true that the penis emerges when a dog is ready to mate. But it can also come out for other reasons.
This event can occur when a dog sits and relaxes. As the pelvic muscles relax when a dog sits down at the right angle, the curve of the sheath straightens. This pushes the penis out for the world to see, even if your dog minds its own business.
Another reason it occurs is sheer excitement! When adrenaline pumps through the body, dogs experience similar sensations to arousal. The penis emerges and can stay visible until they calm down. Again, there's no sexual arousal involved. It's all just quirky canine biology!
Can I Make It Stop?
These behaviors are normal and not tied to sexual attraction. But they can lead to some issues later.
Humping, in particular, can be problematic. Fortunately, there are ways to stop it. Spaying and neutering is the easiest fix. When dogs can no longer reproduce, their sexual instincts decline dramatically. There are also many health and behavioral benefits worth considering, so don't be afraid to talk to your vet!
A trainer can also help. Trainers and behavioralists can redirect and correct humping. They can work with you to employ commands that put an end to humping once and for all.
As for crotch sniffing, the best way to address that is to allow your dog to smell your hand before they start sniffing somewhere you don't want them to sniff. Instruct guests to give out their fists as a greeting. Your dog can gather information by smelling other parts of the body, making them less inclined to do something embarrassing.
There's not much you can do about red rocket issues beyond calming your dog down. It's a natural reaction to the excitement, so many dog owners learn to ignore it.
A Final Word
There you have it! Dogs cannot get sexually attracted to humans, so you can rest easy knowing that your dog is perfectly normal.
Canines have a different view of sex than humans do. There is no shame, so those uncomfortable behaviors are nothing more than instincts. If you start questioning your dog's actions, remember that their love for you is strictly platonic!