10 Signs that a Male Dog Wants to Mate

It seems like yesterday your dog was just a pup; now he wants to mount everything he sees, but is he ready to mate yet? Here are the signs.

So, how can you tell that a male dog wants to mate?

One of the first signs that a male dog wants to mate is urinating and lifting his leg. This is known as urine marking, and male dogs use it to communicate with female dogs.

But urine marking is not the only sign he wants to mate. Dogs use many behaviors to communicate their desire to mate.

When Does a Male Dog Show Signs of Mating?

Understanding a male dog’s sexual development is critical to identifying signs that he wants to mate. Some male dogs are ready to mate when they’re as young as six months. They experience a surge in testosterone levels within the first 20 days of birth. However, their bodies are not fully developed at this stage and only exhibit mating behavior in the form of juvenile play. 

As young as three to six weeks, you may see pups mounting, thrusting, or clasping on their siblings. It’s essential to allow them to include these behaviors in their play — otherwise, their adult mating behavior may be affected adversely. Testosterone levels then reduce gradually until the dog reaches puberty, usually between six to twelve months. 

At this stage, a male dog is sexually mature and may show signs that he is ready to mate, like leg lifting and urine marking. Whether your dog is mature enough to breed varies depending on the dog breed. Studies show smaller dog breeds attain sexual maturity earlier than larger breeds. Smaller breed females may come into heat every three to four months, while the giant breeds usually cycle once per year.

And while a male dog may show he wants to breed, he may not be physically developed enough. He can only exude dominant male traits like aggression to dogs, dominance over his owners, playfulness, territorial defense, and more but can’t breed. 

When he smells a female dog in heat, his urge to mate increases, and if he doesn’t mate, he can become frustrated

Unneutered dogs can become aggressive, look to escape their house, or become destructive. This behavior varies based on external factors and can happen at any time once a male dog attains sexual maturity.

It’s at this point that many owners of male dogs decide to have their dogs neutered. 

Signs That Show a Male Dog Wants to Mate

Dog owners should identify all the signs indicating their male dogs want to mate. In this section, we discuss ten signs:

1. Urine Marking

While both male and female dogs use urine to mark territories during the mating season, male dogs do it more frequently when they want to mate. This gesture is somewhat different from regular urination because they release a small amount of liquid.

A male dog’s urine marks different areas of a home or compound to spread his scent and advertise his readiness to mate. They exhibit this trait if living with multiple dogs.

2. Mounting

Mounting is another sign of sexual arousal, especially in male dogs that have never had intercourse with bitches (female dogs). Both neutered and normal dogs exhibit this behavior accompanied by flirtatious body language like pawing, licking, or keeping the tail up.

Punishing a male dog for mounting can lead to aggression. If you’re not going to breed your dog, neutering is the best way to stop unwanted mounting.

3. Sniffing a Female’s Posterior

Dogs are avid sniffers, especially when looking for mates. They have an enhanced olfactory system that gives them a better sense of smell than humans. He can pick up complex scents, including a female in heat. Sniffing a female’s anus and vulva helps them identify if she is ovulating, a sign of a bitch ready to mate. 

4. Humping

Humping goes hand-in-hand with mounting, and male dogs exhibit these traits as early as six months as practice for future sexual encounters. When they are mature, they’re more likely to mount female dogs.

Unneutered dogs hump due to a surge in testosterone levels in the presence of a female dog in heat. Sometimes the behavior is downright embarrassing, causing dog owners to find ways to tame it. Many people consider neutering, but it is not always effective.

5. Roaming 

Unneutered dogs are more likely to escape and roam looking for mates. Their testosterone levels are at their peak, prompting them to use any way possible to mate.

Roaming is a great way to catch a familiar female scent that invites them to mate. Note that neutered dogs are less likely to exhibit this behavior because their sexual hormones subside significantly after the procedure.

6. Interest in Estrus Vaginal Secretions

This point relates to the previous one because male dogs roam when they pick up the scent of a bitch in season. Since dogs have a highly attuned sense of smell, they can pick up odors from long distances. Once they scent a female in heat, they exhibit varying behavioral changes. 

Some show varied attention, others follow the female closely, while others are indifferent to the females. Free-range male dogs show more elaborate courtship behavior. A study found a positive correlation between the length of time a male dog shows interest and the number of males who want to mate. 

7. Inter-male Aggression

Male dogs can become aggressive when they sense a bitch in heat. A female’s estrus vaginal secretions attract many suitors compelling the actual mate to ward off potential suitors. Besides urine marking his territory, he’s bound to be aggressive toward other male dogs.

8. Restlessness

Male dogs can become restless when they sense a bitch in heat but can’t reach her. He may indulge in destructive behavior like excessive digging or scratching surfaces in the house to release the pent-up sexual energy. 

9. Licking Female Urine

Like male dogs, females are prone to urine marking when in heat. Typically, urine contains pheromones and chemicals unique to each dog. It also provides clues about the other dogs’ reproductive status, diet, sex, and health. Therefore, a male dog licks the urine to determine if she’s ready to mate. 

10.  Escapism

Unneutered dogs are more likely to run away from home searching for a mate. Sometimes they smell a female scent miles away, prompting them to find the bitch.

What Happens if a Male Dog Doesn’t Mate?

Understand that dogs can live without mating; they only mate to reproduce. However, an unaltered male is more likely to get frustrated due to a lack of sexual interactions and display many behaviors we’ve discussed. They vary based on the dog’s breed, level of sexual desire, and if the dog has been neutered or bred in the past.

A neutered dog has a lower sex drive and is less likely to exhibit any behavioral changes. 

Conversely, dogs that have bred in the past get antsy when they sense the presence of a female. They may pace around, whine, and get anxious if they don’t mate. The symptoms worsen when he is used to being bred and knows there’s a female in heat nearby.

Other signs a male dog hasn’t mated include:


A telltale sign that a dog hasn’t had sexual intercourse is masturbating. Lack of sexual activity when his sexual urge is at its peak can be frustrating and cause behavioral problems. As such, he ends up masturbating to get the much-needed sexual release.

Both young and older males masturbate. It’s a way for young males to learn how to mate and for older dogs to release sexual energy. Note that even neutered dogs masturbate.

Indulging in Compulsive Behavior

If masturbation isn’t giving him the satisfaction he needs, he’s likely to engage in destructive compulsive behavior. The sexual frustration causes him to wreak havoc and become aggressive toward his owner and mates. 

What to Do When a Male Dog Wants to Mate?

Mating is a natural act for animals, but it can be challenging for some. Male dogs need a little nudging and guidance to do it right the first time. Having a few tricks up your sleeve goes a long way in guiding him to mate.

The first step is to avoid feeding him on the scheduled mating day. That’s because satisfied dogs are less likely to get sexually aroused. Next, muzzle the bitch to keep her from snapping at the male dog. Female dogs are naturally aggressive, irritable, and nervous when in heat due to the drastic hormonal changes in the body. 

If your female dog exhibits these traits, reassure her by talking gently and petting her. Male dogs are more likely to mate with calm females because they know they won’t get hurt. 

Like humans, the dogs need time to know each other, and when they are ready to mate, the male dog shakes his tail. At this point, it’s best to leave them to it. You can watch them from a distance to ensure the male dog is doing it right.

You may need to step in if he can’t penetrate after a few trials. You can help him find the correct entry point or prop the male or female’s body to allow penetration. If he still can’t get it right, give them time and try another day.

How Long Does a Male Dog Mate?

Typically, intercourse takes 20-40 minutes, and if you’re not supervising, you may not know if the mating was successful. 

How Do You Know a Male Dog Just Mated?

Aroused Genitalia

Finding your dog’s genitalia aroused is a telltale sign that he just mated. A dog’s penis takes time to retract to its sheath after mating. The amount of time varies depending on the dog’s body. Note that arousal doesn’t always mean the dog just mated.

Dogs can get aroused for other reasons not linked to sex hence the need to identify other triggers. Wounds, diseases, and even food can lead to arousal in your male dog.

Dogs Standing Rear to Rear

Sometimes the mating process lasts longer than expected, and you could find your dog standing rear-to-rear with a female. That’s because the bulbous gland at the head of the penis swells, making it difficult to withdraw the penis from a female’s vaginal canal.

This phenomenon is known as a tie or a lock, and it can last for 30-40 minutes. At this point, the male dog changes from the mounted position and turns its back to the bitch to continue mating or end the process. He can’t withdraw the penis until the bulbous gland shrinks to its original size. It’s essential to keep an eye on them during this process because it can cause injury. 

Swollen and Enlarged Penis

Another sign a male dog just mated is finding the penis sticking outside the sheath and appearing abnormally swollen. It occurs when the bulbous glands in the penis swell outside the sheath, making it difficult for the penis to retract to its position.

The swelling is most evident immediately after intercourse, and it reduces once it’s over. Sometimes the dog needs help retracting to its position. You can:

  • Apply a lubricant like KY jelly on the penis and roll the prepuce back and forth to see if the penis resumes a normal position
  • Massage the penis with a cloth soaked in a solution of sugar water. The solution draws the fluid from the bulbous gland to minimize swelling 
  • Visit a vet if the remedies don’t help. The vet may administer anesthesia before applying a lubricant to help the penis resume a normal position

Changes in Behavior

Earlier in our discussion, we mentioned that restlessness is a sign of a dog wanting to mate, especially when around a female in heat. When he breeds, he is calmer.

Rolling on the Ground

Male dogs get ecstatic after a mating session, and the best way to show it is by rolling on the ground. It’s a way to flaunt a victory because he’s satisfied with the activities he just performed.

Male dogs roll on the ground to leave their scents to mark their territory — studies show increased testosterone levels in males after sex. Note that dogs also roll due to other reasons like itching, so you must identify the main reason before concluding that the dog has been sexually active.

Licking Genitals

This behavior is apparent in male and female dogs after mating. The male cleans his penis to help it resume a normal position. Generally, dogs lick the genitals to clean their bodies whether they’ve had intercourse or not.

Final Thoughts

Now you know if your male dog wants to mate. If your dog has been humping, mounting, urine marking, or sniffing a female dog’s posterior and is of breeding age, it may be time to find him a mate.

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