You're sitting down to enjoy dinner with your friends when your pup happily skips in with his favorite stuffed toy. Everyone releases a collective "awwww" at this adorable sight — until he starts humping the stuffed animal! Whether your dog's seemingly weird behavior embarrasses you or gives you a good laugh, your dog's relationship with his stuffed pal is perfectly normal and is no cause for concern. However, if it is causing you some distress or becoming excessive, there are some steps you can take to discourage it.
At what age do puppies try to hump?
Humping and mounting behaviors can start quite early, even when puppies are still with their mom and littermates. Note that the pups aren't being sexual with each other; they are simply testing out and practicing behaviors that they will use later in life.
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Later, when your dog reaches sexual maturity between 6 and 18 months of age, he may start humping stuffed animals due to his hormones. This is considered normal behavior.
Why is my dog humping toys?
One of the most common reasons that dogs hump toys is because they are not spayed or neutered. This means that their sexual hormones are driving them to mate and make them much more likely to start mounting and humping their toys. In addition, they'll likely do the same to other objects and to people if they don't have access to other dogs.
Both male and female dogs hump, with female dogs primarily exhibiting this behavior during estrus, also referred to as heat. Spaying or neutering your dog can help stop this behavior or at least reduce it, although some dogs continue to hump toys even after being fixed.
Dog excitement and humping
If your dog is feeling really excited, she may hump the nearest thing she can find, including a stuffed animal, another dog, or even the family cat. While this may appear sexual in nature, it's just a way for your dog to get out some excitement. It's likely to happen when she's in a situation that provides a lot of stimulation, like at a dog park or when she's playing with her pal. To discourage this type of behavior, try redirecting her energy into something acceptable, like a game of fetch.
Anxious dog humping behaviors
When your dog is feeling anxious, he may start humping his favorite stuffed animal. Just as when he's feeling excited, he may find an outlet for his anxiety by humping. If a stressful situation, like visiting the vet, triggers the behavior, try desensitizing him to the situation. For instance, have him visit the vet frequently just to say hello and perhaps get a treat. Soon, he'll associate his former fear with happy thoughts and will be less likely to hump during the circumstances at hand.
Humping toys for attention
As odd as it may seem to us humans, boredom and loneliness can trigger your dog to start humping one of her toys to get your attention. This is especially true if you reacted strongly to seeing her humping a toy in the past, whether positively or negatively.
If you find the behavior undesirable, all you need to do is get up and walk away, showing her no attention at all. Giving her attention, be it loving or scolding, to stop her humping will actually reinforce the behavior. Make sure to find time every day to give your buddy some stimulating time with you so she doesn't feel the need to beg for attention via humping.
Dog humping stuffed animal compulsively
In most cases, humping is harmless, but it can become a compulsive behavior. Frequent humping could also be a sign of some diseases, like a urinary tract infection or skin problem. Keep an eye on how often your dog humps. If he's doing it all the time to the point that it interferes with his daily life, he should visit his vet or a certified dog trainer.