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Your intrepid correspondent is sweating bullets. The phone of applied animal behaviorist Camille King is ringing, and I’ve yet to tell her what the interview’s about. I know the medical term isn’t “leg-humping,” right? You know what I mean. How our ardent dogs have their apparent Pepé Le Pew moments on other dogs at the park, on oblivious stuffed animals…on our legs. It’s more awkward social display than it is bow-chicka-bow-wow. Finally, she answers, and I bumble out my technical description of the act. King, owner of Longmont’s Canine Education Center, just laughs and is quick to correct me. It’s actually called “mounting behavior,” and, often times, it has nothing to do with sexual arousal.

“There are so many variables in why the dog is mounting, and what you should do,” advises King. For one, hard mounts stem from stirred emotions. Usually it’s a reaction caused by anxiety or stress. Whether it’s a show of dominance in a public park, taking over the situation in a group of dogs, or having a foreign, chaos-inducing element in your household, which ranges from strangers to perturbing environmental changes. King’s advice is to anticipate this behavior, and read the signs of what to do next. “If the dog being mounted blows it off like it’s no big deal, let it end naturally… But if you see the dog is sheepish and freezes up, it’s time to intervene.”

Separate the dogs before other owners begin starring angrily. And here you thought they called it puppy love.