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Our family has a dog and four cats. The dog's name is Brutus, he's male, 6 years old and a Boston Terrier/Beagle mix. The cat relevant to this question is named Smudge; he's a male gray tabby cat, and is about a year and a half old.

Over the past week, Brutus has been unusually interested in Smudge:

  • Brutus has been whining more frequently, but only when Smudge is near him.
  • Brutus has been chasing Smudge around more.
    • In response, Smudge usually jumps somewhere that Brutus can't physically reach (e.g. atop furniture, or behind a futon).
  • Brutus has been sniffing Smudge's ass more, and trying to hump him more frequently.

Facts that may be relevant:

  • We let Brutus roam around our backyard, but we also walk him daily. No formal limits on how long he's out there, but it's rarely more than half an hour at a time.
  • All of our cats are indoor cats, and none have gotten out recently.
  • Brutus has tried to hump the cats before, but not to the extent I'm describing now.
  • All animals have been eating without any problems.
  • All animals have been relieving themselves without any problems.
    • This means that there have been no accidents, and there is nothing unusual about anyone's poop or urine.
  • All pets are friendly towards each other, and play or cuddle regularly.
    • This means that none of our pets have been violent or confrontational; there has been no scratching, hissing, barking, growling, or biting of any kind.
  • We recently had Brutus vaccinated for rabies. He's got a clean bill of health.
  • Brutus is not fixed, but all four cats are.
  • Brutus has never humped people or objects, to my knowledge.

Here's my question: Are my pets okay? Might one of them have a disease? Should I bring any of them to the vet?

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It's spring time, that means it's mating time for dogs. You say Brutus is not fixed, so his hormones make him somewhat more dominant and a lot more interested in finding a nice girl now.

You should expect him to be more restless and less obedient for a few weeks. He may hump people or objects (which is an expression of his hormones in that case, not a sign of dominance). During a walk he may become extremely distracted by the scent of a female dog. He may run away for a while if he has the chance and smells a female in heat. It's best to keep him on the leash when you walk with him.

As other users mentioned, some additional excercise is always nice to keep your dog happy. Have a look at this post for some ideas.

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I also think it sounds like Brutus needs more exercise and/or mental stimulation. Pay attention too to what time of day it is - that might help with timing when he needs more exercise. In addition to what @rlb.usa said you can also try teaching him new tricks or playing games where he has to use his nose (hiding treats and having him search for them, or giving him one of those puzzle toys you can put treats in.)

That said I'm not a vet, so if he doesn't calm down with more dedicated exercise and mental stimulation time, definitely make an appointment.

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It sounds to me like Brutus is just developing some unhealthy fixations as he is bored. Get him some new toys, take him to the dog park and completely tucker him out and all of the silliness with Smudge should disappear. You could try giving him a walk, preferably with a weighted doggie backpack to help with the "wearing him out" part.

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