Male canids have a bulbus glandis at the base of their penises. The penis sometimes emerges from the penile sheath during sexual arousal. During coitus the bulbus glandis swells up and results in a 'tie' (the male and female dogs being tied together). Muscles in the vagina of the female assist the retention by contracting.
At the time of penetration, the canine penis is not erect, and can only penetrate the female because it includes a narrow bone called the "baculum", a feature of most placental mammals. When the male achieves penetration, he will usually hold the female tighter and thrust deeply. It is during this time that the male's penis expands and it is important that the bulbus gland is far enough inside for the female to be able to trap it. Unlike human sexual intercourse, where the male penis commonly becomes erect before entering the female, canine copulation involves the male first penetrating the female, after which swelling of the penis to erection occurs, which usually happens rapidly.
Male canines are one of the few animals that have a locking bulbus glandis or "bulb", a spherical area of erectile tissue at the base of the penis. During copulation, and only after the male's penis is fully inside the female's vagina, the bulbus glandis becomes engorged with blood. When the female's vagina subsequently contracts, the penis becomes locked inside the female. This is known as "tying" or "knotting". While characteristic of mating in most canids, the copulatory tie has been reported to be absent or very brief (less than one minute) in the African wild dog, possibly due to the abundance of large predators in its environment.