Why Does My Puppy Hump? And How Do I Stop It?
Has your tranquil afternoon ever turned into a comedy scene when your adorable little puppy started humping on a visitor’s leg, a favorite pillow, or even its toys? All chuckles aside, as dog owners you might have found yourself drowning in a sea of questions: “Why is my puppy humping?” “Is it normal, or should I be concerned?”, “Is dog humping a sexual behavior?” If this sounds like your situation, you’re not alone, and the first thing to know is that it’s a common occurrence among puppies.
The world of puppy behavior can be as puzzling as it is endearing. One of the most intriguing aspects is their humping behavior. Often dismissed as a ‘naughty’ action or reduced as a point of embarrassment, humping, albeit a little awkward for us humans at times, is a quite common and sometimes normal part of puppy development. But the reasons behind it can vary. Your curiosity is valid and understanding it can help you ensure your puppy grows into a well-behaved adult dog. So, in this comprehensive guide, we will explore the probable causes behind your furry friend’s humping antics, aiming to provide insights and clarity into this mystifying canine conduct. Buckle up and prepare to delve into the interesting world of puppy behavior!
Why Do Puppies Hump?
Why do pups hump? It’s actually usually emotional, believe it or not. It’s to do with an abundance of feelings, and almost like the wires just kind of get crossed! But let’s look at the most common reasons for your pup getting humpy. and yes, female puppies and dogs can hump too!
Overstimulated & Overtired
Indeed, overstimulation and overtiredness can also provoke humping behavior in puppies. When your young canine companion is flooded with excitement or overtired, humping can serve as a stress-coping mechanism.
In the throes of high excitement or intense play, puppies may hump as a response to the overwhelming feelings. This could include situations such as the introduction of a new pet, an exciting play session with other puppies, or receiving a lot of attention from the family members.
Likewise, the problem is not limited to overstimulation but extends to overtiredness. Similar to toddlers, puppies may begin to exhibit some behaviors when they’re tired, humping being one of them. In such cases, humping acts like a displacement behavior – a physical manifestation of an internal conflict, where the overtired puppy struggles to relax.
Stress & Anxiety
Similar to humans, dogs have various ways of dealing with stress and anxiety. One such coping mechanism can be humping. This behavior might be triggered due to excess energy built up when the puppy is anxious, and it doesn’t know how else to manage this stress. Essentially, it’s their way of trying to relieve the built-up tension. Humping is kind of just a way for pup to work out those emotions.
The environment and specific situations can also play into this. For instance, the stress could be triggered by a trip to a dog park or the vet.
The key is to help the puppy manage its stress and anxiety better. By identifying and addressing the source of stress, the behavior can be minimized. In cases where the behavior seems obsessive or stress-induced humping persists, seeking professional help can be beneficial to better manage your puppy’s stress and curtail the humping habit.
Oh yes, a lack of mental stimulation (also called enrichment) can definitely have this consequence. Everything in our dog’s life is about ensuring they get enough exercise, enough sleep, or biting, or how they interact with new people. But if that falls out of line, or we’re not providing enough of something? It can absolutely be a simple response to boredom!
Sexual Maturity & Learned Behaviors
Puppies can start humping due to hormonal changes as they reach sexual maturity. The onset of puberty introduces a surge of hormones in puppies, which can influence their behavior significantly, including the propensity to hump.
In male puppies, for instance, the increasing testosterone levels associated with sexual maturity can incite humping. While for females too, hormonal changes as they come into heat can prompt similar behavior.
However, it’s crucial to remember that humping in puppies and dogs isn’t always about reproductive instincts, and neutering or spaying them, while it might decrease the behavior, might not eliminate it entirely. Many puppies continue to hump as it can become a learned behavior or they may be finding it stimulating for the genital area and it may have become a form of masturbation.
Do All Puppies Hump?
while humping is a common occurrence among puppies, it doesn’t necessarily imply that all puppies will display this behavior. Several factors, including anxiety, dominance, happiness, and playfulness, can contribute to a puppy exhibiting humping actions.
Many puppies often hump their littermates, other playmates, people, and even toys.
However, not all puppies might showcase the same behavior to the same degree or even at all, largely due to differences in their individual development, personality, and environment.
Is Puppy Humping Normal?
Humping is considered a normal behavioral pattern for puppies. Matter of fact, humping can manifest as part of instinctual behavior, learned behavior, or even as a response to various emotions, all of which are normal aspects of a puppy’s life.
What they hump can vary from inanimate objects, to your older dog! All of that is normal, it’s not a display of dominance.
A survey I performed of puppy parents in across the world revealed that 52% of the surveyed 266 participants’ puppies display mounting or humping behavior! Which is way higher than previously believed – so we can totally recognise that this is a common behavior and a normal dog behavior from a young age.
This behavior is often exhibited during play, as brief moments of humping between dogs can be a harmless expression of their interactive behavior.
Moreover, it’s not only male pups that indulge in humping but females too. The behavior is present regardless of the gender of the puppy.
However, while it is normal, it’s important for pet parents to understand why their puppy might be humping. Hormonal changes, overstimulation, anxiety, and even tiredness can all incite such behavior. Recognizing the causes can help manage or mitigate the behavior if it becomes problematic.
Remember, although humping is generally normal, depending on the frequency and context, it may occasionally indicate a medical problem. Therefore, it would be wise to consult with a veterinarian if the behavior seems excessive or out of place.
Will Spaying or Neutering Help?
In most instances, no. Unless it’s sexual based humping, then the answer is no, spaying or neutering will not help. If it is a sexual response? Then spaying or neutering will help!
You’ve not mentioned that humping is a sign of Dominance, Why Not?
Primarily because dominance, as a theory, was debunked a few decades ago, so we can say, quite categorically that your dog isn’t humping to adjust or install his or her social status. The different reasons listed in this piece are almost always the cause with very few exceptions (exceptions usually being a medical condition). A humping dog isn’t a dominant dog, usually, they’re a worried dog and that tends to be quite a hard thing to understand because of this old theory that keeps perpetuating itself.
Is There A Time I Should Be Concerned About Humping?
Although humping is a normal behavior in puppies and dogs, there are certain circumstances under which the activity may warrant concern:
- Excessive Humping: If your puppy humps persistently even after being calmed down or stopped, it may signal that there’s an underlying issue such as extreme stress or anxiety and you may look at adding some decompression activities to your pup’s routine.
- Onset of Sudden, Uncharacteristic Humping: If the humping is a new behavior and particularly if it’s accompanied by other changes in behavior, it could indicate a medical issue. The act can sometimes be a response to urinary tract infections, skin allergies, or other conditions that cause itching or discomfort. This one is a vet trip!
- Humping that Leads to Aggression: If your puppy’s humping is causing strain in their social interactions, whether with humans or other pets, it’s a problem. Humping can sometimes lead to fights between dogs, especially if the recipient dog doesn’t appreciate the humping (who can blame them!), ensure you recall pup from play if it looks like it’s getting too intense.
- Interrupts Normal Daily Activity: If the humping behavior is so frequent that it’s interfering with your pup’s everyday activities like eating, drinking, playing, or sleeping, it’s a red flag.
If you notice any of these symptoms or have any concerns about your puppy’s behavior, these signs might indicate it’s possibly a symptom of medical issues or a compulsive behavior. It would be wise to consult with a veterinarian or a professional animal behaviorist to rule out any potential health problems and to work on a behavior modification plan.
How To Remedy Humping
As with all behaviors, the best way to resolve your dog’s humping is by addressing the root cause!
- Redirect the Behavior: Encourage your puppy to engage in other activities when you see signs they might start humping. This could include playing with their favorite toy, performing a specific training task, or taking them for a small walk.
- Addressing Stress or Overstimulation: If humping occurs due to stress or overexcitement. Try to identify and minimize the causes of these. This could involve reducing exposure to stimulating environments or providing ample opportunities for rest and downtime.
- Effective Socialization: Ensuring proper socialization can help manage humping behavior. By allowing your puppy to interact with other well-behaved dogs, they can learn appropriate play and communication.
- Ignoring Attention-Seeking Humping: If your puppy humps for attention, keeping your reactions neutral may help reduce the behavior. Responding, even negatively, might reinforce the behavior rather than discourage it.
- Provide Enrichment: Enrichment (the act of meeting your dogs needs with toys, or activities) we can curb a lot of unwanted behaviors, including humping and mounting behavior.
Ideally we want to do this before it becomes a compulsive habit.
When to seek professional help
Sometimes you try all the things, and things don’t change, or you’re just unsure where to start, that’s when you seek help! Just remember, we want to make sure that they’re a certified professional dog trainer or behaviorist and that they only use positive reinforcement based training.
And, just FYI? I’m here to help!
Hump-Day, All Day!
In conclusion, humping is a common and normal behavior observed in puppies, regardless of their gender. It’s often a part of their play or a response to excitement.
However, there can be times when humping becomes a matter of concern, such as when it is excessive, sudden, causes aggression, or interrupts your puppy’s daily activities. If you notice such behaviors, consulting with a veterinary professional to check for any possible health issues is recommended.
With patience, you can manage or even mitigate this behavior using a few methods. You can redirect your puppy’s behavior towards other constructive activities, train them with simple commands, address any sources of stress or overstimulation, ensure proper socialization, or even seek professional help if it’s becoming overwhelming.
Remember, consistency and attentiveness are key when addressing this behavior. By guiding your puppy towards more appropriate behaviors, you can foster a harmonious relationship with your furry friend.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!