Dogging is a British euphemism for engaging in sexual acts in a semi-public place or watching others doing so. Frequently, there are more than two participants; both group sex and gang banging can be included. As observation is encouraged, voyeurism and exhibitionism are closely associated with dogging. The two sets of people involved often meet either randomly or arrange to meet-up beforehand over the Internet.
There's a lot of controversy about where exactly the term "dogging" comes from. Here we'll try to investigate some of the possible answers.
Dogging = watching or following
The word "dogging" has always had the connotation of following or watching. Here's a quote from Moby Dick:
I said nothing to Queequeg of his being behind, but passed on with my comrade, anxious to see whether the stranger would turn the same corner that we did. He did; and then it seemed to me that he was dogging us, but with what intent I could not for the life of me imagine.
This sense comes from the idea of a hunting dog following closely its prey. So some people have surmised that "dogging" comes from the idea of people "doggedly" watching people having sex in public, or perhaps searching out people having sex in people. According to an article in the Sunday Herald:
The term dogging originated in the early 1970s to describe men who spied on couples having sex outdoors – these men would “dog” the couples’ every move and watch them.
Sex Outdoors = Like Dogs?
Some people suggest that the term "dogging" comes from the fact that people are having sex outdoors without concern if others are watching, similar to how dogs might have sex in a park setting.
"Doggery" = rabble, mob
The word "doggery" has several meanings, including "mischievous" or "rabble, mob". Dogging is both mischievous and often involves a group ("mob") of people watching, this may be a related idea.
Walking the dog?
According to an article at Nerve.com:
Others say "dogging" is called such because when lascivious limeys are caught in flagrante delicto al fresco, they brush the grass off their knees and insist they were simply "walking the dog."
We find this explanation, though funny, highly dubious. This is more "folk etymology", an explanation invented after the fact to explain where the word comes from.
The origin of "dogging" is definitely British. In American slang, the term "dogging" means something quite different: criticizing someone. Here are some examples of the word in this sense:
Criticizing another woman's looks makes you look and feel totally insecure. It also makes you paranoid–if you do it to them, you'll automatically assume they're doing it to you. Dogging each other keeps us divided, and therefore defeated.
But I can't be mad at ya
Cause there's something that you don't know
That when your gone I do my own thing
Can I catch a bone? Why you dogging me? - song lyrics, Kandi