Why Does My Dog Hump Blankets? (Trainer Answers)

Why Does My Dog Hump Blankets

Awkward, funny, embarrassing, uncomfortable; these are words that might describe the shock of observing your dog humping something. Whether it is a bed or you, many dog owners have experienced this behavior from their canine companions at some point.

Some dogs tend to fixate on different items (or creatures) to hump. Hopefully, if you have an obsessive humper, they do not fixate on you but instead focus on something a bit more inanimate like blankets.

But why does your dog hump blankets?

Dogs might hump blankets when they are overstimulated, bored, anxious, or want to play. Humping is a way for dogs to release pent-up energy. Hormones might also cause your dog to hump blankets when they are aroused or smell a female dog in heat. 

Despite the awkwardness, humping is a natural response to several different stimuli in your dog’s environment and certain dogs are more likely to hump blankets than others. Let’s figure out the specific reason your dog like to hump blankets and then see if we can find a solution to this embarrassing issue.

Why Does My Dog Hump Blankets?

According to the veterinarian David S. Spiegel, humping can be “a reaction to something that has excited the dog.” Whether they are reacting to something exciting like you coming home from work, meeting new people, or playing with other dogs, humping is a way for them to release pent-up energy. Humping is a basic canine instinct so they do not have to think too much about it.

While some dogs might turn to zoomies to release their pent-up energy, many dogs will hump. Blankets can be a good choice of items to hump, since if they choose to hump you or furniture they are likely to provoke a negative reaction. Sometimes you might not even notice when your dog humps blankets so your dog can fixate on the behavior without consequences.

Blankets might be a better choice than humping you, but what causes this pent-up energy? And is there anything else that might provoke your dog to hump blankets?

Reason 1. Your Dog Is Overstimulated

Because humping is a basic instinct in the dog world, it is easy for dogs to choose that behavior when they are overstimulated. Overstimulation means your dog is over the threshold and is so excited that they have little self-control. This can lead to humping blankets, jumping on people, or barking.

Puppies who have not learned impulse control are very prone to becoming overstimulated and humping blankets. Not only are puppies still learning to navigate the world, but they experience a surge of hormones as they reach sexual maturity before they turn a year old. This along with being overstimulated in new places or meeting new people can lead to them taking out that pent-up energy on humping blankets.

Work on impulse control with your puppy from when they are very little to help condition them to be able to control their behavior as they go through life changes. This video is a great place to start.

Reason 2. Your Dog Is Bored

A bored dog has to take their pent-up energy somewhere. While some might take it out on your house and destroy things, others might instead hump blankets. It is a natural behavior that serves as an outlet for their boredom and pent-up energy.

While humping blankets might not be as destructive as other boredom-relieving behaviors, it certainly is not a behavior that should be ignored.

Humping blankets out of boredom means your dog is not getting enough mental stimulation and exercise. Even dogs that do not require a lot of exercise will get bored without a short walk every day, and high-energy dogs might escalate from humping blankets to more destructive behaviors like excess barking, digging, and getting into the trash.

Reason 3. Your Dog Wants To Play

Dogs are incredibly intuitive creatures that can easily pick up on patterns. One thing they might learn is that when they want your attention, humping blankets are a great way to get you to play with them.

It is surprisingly easy for us to encourage bad behavior like humping blankets by unintentionally reinforcing it. If you immediately start paying attention to your dog and play with them to get them to stop humping blankets, your dog now has learned what behavior gets you to play with them.

Besides getting you to play, dogs who are excited about playing might include humping blankets into their play style.

Like zoomies (Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAPS), humping is an instinctual behavior that is often associated with excitement and the need to play. This dog in the video shows what zoomies can look like.

If a dog is already prone to humps blankets, they might be more likely to include that in their zoomies when they are excited and want to play.

Reason 4. Your Dog Is Anxious

Humping is not only an instinctual behavior for dogs but also a stress reliever. Some dogs might not even be aware they are humping blankets when they are anxious. Much like some humans might not notice they are wringing their hands or chewing their nails out of anxiety.

Anxiety and separation anxiety in dogs can cause them to hump blankets. Other indicators of anxiety include:

  • Pacing
  • Destruction of household items
  • Barking
  • Accidents in the house
  • Excessive panting and drooling

While some dogs are naturally anxious, anxiety might be caused by loud noises like guns or fireworks, a sudden change in routine, or a move. Hormonal changes in human family members can also cause stress and trigger your dog to hump blankets.

Reason 5. Your Dog Is Aroused

Unspayed female dogs will usually go into heat, or estrous cycle, between the ages of 6 months and 1 year. After their heat cycle, most female dogs will go into heat about every 6 months or until they are spayed.

During estrous, your family dog will have bloody and mucusy discharge and urinate more frequently. They are marking because urine contains pheromones to let male dogs know they are in heat. They are also likely aroused, causing them to take out their sexual frustration on humping blankets.

If you have never had a female in heat before, here is a video to let you know what to expect.

While female dogs are releasing their hormones during their heat cycle, male dogs are smelling it causing them to be aroused. Both intact and neutered male dogs can become sexually frustrated when there is a female in heat, and this will cause them to hump blankets. They are not sexually attracted to the blanket, they are just redirecting.

Please keep your intact male and female dogs securely enclosed in the house to prevent unwanted litter.

Can I Prevent This Behavior?

Humping blankets is a very normal dog behavior and some dogs are more likely to hump than others. While humping can be a difficult behavior to prevent, this does not mean that you cannot retrain a new behavior. Let’s discuss some options. 


If humping blankets is a problem when your dog becomes overstimulated, whether from excitement, boredom, stress, or arousal, first take away the problem blankets. Second, redirect them to a better behavior.

Redirection in the dog training world means you are teaching your dog to choose a more appropriate behavior over an unwanted behavior. Your dog might already be redirecting by humping blankets instead of you, but here are some better behaviors your dog might choose over humping blankets:

  • Playing fetch
  • Playing tug
  • Playing with or chewing on toys

Once you recognize your dog’s triggers, you can distract them with whatever their favorite toy is. This is very rewarding and conditions them to choose to play with a toy over humping blankets.

If you prefer to replace humping blankets with a more relaxed behavior, you can train your dog to “go to their bed” and redirect them to lying down. Here is a great tutorial using positive reinforcement to train your dog to “go to your bed.”


A little extra mental stimulation and exercise will help prevent the kind of excitement or stress-induced over-stimulation that is often associated with humping blankets.

Exercising has plenty of benefits, not only does it release pent-up energy that can lead to your dog humping blankets but builds confidence and curbs anxiety by exercising the mind. Plus it allows you and your dog to spend time together and bond.

Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation includes daily training and enrichment. Training does not have to have a strict schedule. Work on “down-stays” while your coffee is brewing or teach your dog to “shake” during television commercials.

Enrichment allows your dog to engage in other innate behaviors other than humping blankets. Chewing, chasing, licking, and digging are all innate behaviors that might be more appropriate than humping. Give your dog a bone full of frozen peanut butter or roll their kibble up in an old towel so they have to use their brain to get their meal.

This Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever shows off their favorite puzzle-feeding enrichment toy.

Mental stimulation and exercise will help your dog release pent-up energy before they take it out by humping blankets.

Spaying And Neutering

Unfortunately, some neutered male dogs still feel sexual frustration when there is a nearby female in heat and might express that pent-up energy by humping blankets. 

However, while neutering is not always a solution to your dog humping, one study has shown that it can reduce the behavior by up to 70%. So if your dog is humping blankets because of arousal, neutering can certainly help reduce the effects of hormones, ease their frustration, and modify several other sometimes frustrating behaviors

However, even if your dog still might hump blankets, only by spaying and neutering your pets can you truly prevent any unwanted litters.

Should I Be Worried?

Humping blankets is usually a product of pent-up energy caused by over-stimulation, boredom, wanting to play, anxiety, or arousal. With the right tool and training methods, you can hopefully redirect humping blankets to a more appropriate behavior.

However, humping blankets might not be a behavioral issue and could be a symptom of a medical issue. If your dog is suffering from a urinary tract infection, rubbing against a blanket could help relieve some of the pain they are experiencing.

Luckily UTIs are usually easy to treat with a round of antibiotics prescribed to you by your veterinarian. Other symptoms include:

  • Accidents
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Straining or pain when your dog is peeing
  • Accidents
  • Excessive licking of their rear

Always refer to your veterinarian when you suspect a UTI. They are very uncomfortable for dogs and could be an indicator of a bigger problem like cancer, kidney disease, or kidney stones.

Final Thoughts

It is no secret that our dogs often display uncomfortable behaviors that some people might find embarrassing. Some dogs awkwardly lick other dogs’ privates while others are so excited that they start humping blankets.

Humping blankets is an innate behavior caused by over-stimulation, wanting to play, boredom, anxiety, or arousal. While certain dogs are more prone to hump, especially if they are still intact, all dogs are likely to hump at some point.

Thankfully dogs that hump blankets are not humping you or other dogs, but it is still a frustrating behavior. Take away the blankets and redirect them to a more appropriate behavior like chasing a toy or playing tug to help them release that pent-up energy.

Finally, exercising and training your dog not only prevents too much pent-up energy that causes them to hump blankets but helps strengthen and builds your relationship with your canine best friend.

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