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It might be an uncomfortable truth, but for most puppies and dogs humping is a normal canine behavior, both in females and males, even if they’re doing it to their own bed.
As strange as it may seem your innocent pooch could be mounting their dog bed for various reasons both sexual and non-sexual. And since we can’t read their minds, all we can do is question this behavior.
Why does my puppy hump his bed?
Mounting or masturbation can be a sexual behavior both in puppies and dogs. But humping can also be a sign of overexcitement, stress, or an underlying medical condition. Puppies and dogs that are humping their bed could also be asserting their dominance.
If you want to know why your puppy or dog is humping their bed, and how to deal with it then keep on reading!
Why Does My Puppy Hump His Bed?
When it comes to dog mounting, it’s important that we become familiar with this behavior throughout the various stages of a dog’s life.
That’s why we made sure that the reasons below can be applied to puppies, as well as young and older dogs, this way you’ll know what to expect from your canine companion as they grow older.
Reason 1: Hormonal Changes
“Sexual maturity in puppies typically begins to occur between 6-to-9 months of age, although certain giant breeds may not reach sexual maturity until they are older,” explains AKC.
During this period your little pooch will experience hormonal changes and one way to express this change is by humping.
You might notice your puppy or young dog humping other dogs at the park, but they might also look for other more unconventional ways to relieve their sexual energy.
Your dog might start humping other people, including yourself, and anything that might seem appealing like a soft pillow or in this case their own dog bed.
It’s also easy to catch a puppy humping their bed because we usually try to keep an eye on them to avoid any accidents.
So, before your dog begins bed-humping you may observe a flirtatious behavior. As Sian Tranter VetMB, CertAVP explains this involves an alert posture, licking, playing bows, and chasing. “Erections and even ejaculation are common in male dogs,” she adds.
Additionally, the PetMD states that “some female dogs may mount people or objects when they are in heat. If the mounting behavior increases in frequency during this time period, it is most likely hormonally driven in intact animals.”
As you can imagine this sexual desire is more intense in unneutered and unspayed young dogs and puppies, while castrated and older dogs on the other hand will most likely hump for other reasons.
Reason 2: It Feels Good
Dogs are sexual creatures and as your puppy grows older, they will begin to look for sexual stimulation, not only because it’s an instinctive mating behavior, but because it is also pleasurable.
Finding your puppy hump their own bed means that they’re most likely exploring their sexuality, and they will self-stimulate because it feels good.
Just like with humans, dog masturbation is a normal and natural behavior, but I understand that it can be uncomfortable to have your puppy or older dog hump their bed non-stop especially if they have a high sex drive, and more so when you have people over.
Reason 3: They Want To Play
John Gardiner from UCDavis explains that “a lot of puppies will exhibit mounting behavior, and it is simply a way for them to play.”
It might take a while for some puppies to understand that this is a mating behavior, and since it’s pleasurable they will more often than not repeat it.
Dogs also display this playful behavior with other dogs, but since puppies are usually more sheltered in these early stages, mounting you or their bed can be part of that playfulness they don’t get to express with other dogs.
As your dog grows older they will still mount other dogs as a game, and high energy breeds can start humping you, their bed, or any other plush toy if they’ve been overstimulated after an intense play session.
Reason 4: They Are Overly Stimulated
As your puppy steps into the adult stage of their life, they might still use mounting as this playful behavior.
Gary Landsberg, DVM, says that “you’ll often see one dog mount another, then a few minutes later they’ll switch off and the other dog will mount the first dog.”
If not taken to extremes, “it’s a common play gesture,” she adds.
High energy dogs can also get overly excited after an intense play session which could end with them humping their bed.
Reason 5: They Are Bored
Just like overstimulation can lead to mounting and masturbation, being bored can actually do the same thing.
Hillspet states that “if your dog is lying around or pacing and then seems to start humping things, maybe she is just bored and need more playtime with you.”
Puppies and young dogs can be particularly energetic and for dog parents that work most of their day, this absence can lead to a number of problematic behaviors like clinginess and as you’ve already guessed, bed-humping.
In this case, you should really invest some time in some stimulating games, leave your dog with interactive puzzle games, and if you have the opportunity ask a friend or hire a dog walker to walk and tire your puppy and dog out so they don’t have to take their boredom out on their bed.
Reason 6: They Are Testing You
The answer to your question, “why is my puppy humping his bed” could be found in your own behavior.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not here to blame you for being a bad dog parent, but dog parenting is not easy, and I’ve been guilty of rewarding my dog’s “bad behaviors” without even realizing it.
Most often than not, puppies and dogs will test our limits and when it comes to humping this behavior can help puppies understand their own strength, by testing other dogs, people, and even objects.
Just like with most unwanted dog behaviors like barking, humping is As Landsberg eloquently puts it “a play behavior that dogs do because no one has told them it’s not acceptable.”
So, if you’ve never told your puppy or your dog not to hump their bed, or you did it just a few times then how could then know that you want them to stop?
Reason 7: Asserting Dominance
David S. Spiegel, VMD, says “in unneutered and unspayed dogs under a year old, humping is usually sexual in nature. But in older dogs, it can be a sign of dominance.”
Now you might be thinking, how can your dog possibly assert their dominance on a dog bed.
But your dog might be humping their bed because they want to display their social status or control over their territory especially if they feel unsure of their place in the pack.
Perhaps you’ve just adopted a new pet or dog that they don’t like yet and the new intruder has been also sleeping on your dog’s bed.
I do want to mention that this agonistic dominance in domestic dogs is a debated subject, and according to SPCA “clasping and humping seem to be more about visual signaling within the group than about establishing rank in a hierarchy.”
That’s why you should avoid training techniques that promote the “pack leader” or “alpha” mentality.
Reason 8: It’s A Habit
Puppies can start humping their bed because it’s fun, pleasurable and part of their playful nature, but it can easily transition into a habitual behavior.
In extreme cases, mounting could become a compulsive behavior also known as stereotypy.
In older dogs this excessive and without a particular reason repetitive behavior could also be the result of past trauma.
Your dog could be using the bed as a way to relieve their stress, and while in most cases it’s normal behavior, compulsive mounting can have a negative effect on your dog’s daily routine, and they might turn their humping attention to other dogs, and even people, including you.
Reason 9: It’s Stress-Related
Anxiety can be another reason your dog is humping their bed. Using this familiar object as their stress relief is not uncommon.
Hillspet states that “sometimes little changes in a dog’s routine can lead to her feeling stressed, and every dog responds to stress differently.”
Past trauma as I already mentioned above can be the reason your dog feels stressed, or they might simply be in need of mental stimulation.
Many dogs hump their owner to show their distress because they lack the attention, they’ll hump other dogs because they haven’t been properly socialized but humping their bed could simply be a displacement activity.
You might do something similar, by biting your nails, constantly checking your phone, or playing with your hair and chewing your beard,
Reason 10: It’s A Medical Issue
Humping their bed could be the result of your dog’s mental distress, but it could also be a symptom of a physical illness.
Your dog may be rubbing their body against you, the dog bed, or any other object because they have an itch they want to scratch.
This itch could be caused by a skin allergy like flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies, or environmental allergens like dust, and pollen among others.
Your dog or puppy could also be suffering from a urinary tract infection, urinary incontinence, or priapism (persistent, often painful erections) in which cases they might also notice your dog licking their genitals more than usual.
Since humping is usually a pleasurable activity your dog might use it to relieve their discomfort and pain.
That’s why if you notice your puppy or dog acting strange or you’re unsure what the nature of their humping is then take them to the vet.
Even for stress-related humping, a veterinarian can help you deal with this behavior or redirect you to the right professional.
Should I Let My Puppy Hump His Bed?
Puppy humping is usually a playful behavior or the beginning of their sexual development. In both cases, mounting is a healthy and acceptable behavior for young dogs.
However, you might want your puppy to stop humping their bed because it’s your personal preference, additionally, there’s a risk that your dog’s humping will get out of hand if you don’t stop it, so it’s best to teach your pup some humping boundaries.
Now that many of us have had to work from home, humping can become a distraction. Just take a look at this poor yoga instructor that was interrupted by her excited dog and his pillow.
It’s also easier to train your dog from a young age not to participate in this act the moment you notice them humping their bed.
Whether your dog is no longer humping their bed, you still should keep an eye on them because under stressful situations your little pooch could revert back to this behavior.
How Do You Stop Your Dog From Humping His Bed?
If you feel like you want to minimize or stop your dog from humping his bed completely then there are a few steps that you need to take.
Let’s look go through them one by one.
Check Their Wellbeing
The first thing you should do is rule out any health issues that may be causing your dog to hump his bed.
Take your pooch to the vet so they can check your dog for fleas or skin allergies or any other medical conditions that may be causing pain in the genital area.
Your vet can also help you deal with humping if it’s stress-related, or they can redirect you to a professional dog behaviorist that can pinpoint the cause of your dog’s anxiety and they can help you work on eliminating it.
Get Them Neutered or Spayed When It’s Time
Once you rule out any medical condition you can also ask your vet when it’s best to neuter or spay your puppy.
Since mounting can be a sexual behavior neutering can reduce it. “One study found that castration reduces mounting by 50% in almost 70% of male dogs, regardless of age at castration,” says Sian Tranter from VetHelpDirect.
Of course, humping can be a non-sexual behavior, and while it can be reduced during your dog’s heat cycles you will most likely need to train your dog to stop them from bed-humping completely.
I do want to note that even if humping is not a sexual act in your dog’s case, you won’t know it until they’ve been neutered/spayed.
This procedure is also crucial for your dog’s health, since “unspayed females can develop painful and life-threatening infections of the uterus called pyometra,” or mammary tumors as the experts from AKC explain.
Additionally, unspayed male dogs can develop testicular cancer or other prostate diseases.
VCA hospitals also state that castration “not only minimizes the risk of unplanned litters but also may offer behavioral benefits.”
Training Is Crucial
Once you’ve got the vet appointment out of the way, you can focus on your pup’s training, and the best method to teach your dog not to hump his bed is by using positive reinforcement.
Humane Society has some great tips on this type of training.
First of all, they state that timing is everything, meaning that you need to reward your dog the moment they display the desired behavior.
So, if you tell your dog to stop humping his bed you need to give them their favorite treat right when they stop this behavior.
If you’re a new pet owner, you also need to work on your commands. So, when you notice your dog humping their bed, start implementing a simple command, by using short words like “stop”, or “no” along with a treat to help them connect the two things together.
Remember to be consistent, otherwise, your dog won’t stop bed-humping, and make sure that you’re not accidentally rewarding humping.
As I’ve already mentioned, dealing with your puppy’s humping needs to happen early on, otherwise, it might become a habit that will be more difficult to root out.
Spend Time With Your Dog
How our dog behaves can tell us a lot about their feelings and mental state. Humping for instance can occur in dogs that are bored, stressed, or both.
This could be caused by various external stressors like a new pet member in the family, the loss of a canine or human friend, but also minor changes like a new diet or being left alone for a few days while you’re on vacation.
Dealing with these stressors, but most importantly identifying these stressors can only happen if you spend enough time with your pooch to notice. After all, your puppy or dog might be humping the bed because they need more attention and exercise.
So, aside from training your dog, you should try to spend more quality time with your pup. If your dog comes back home tired from your exciting walk then they will have less energy to spend on humping their bed, instead, they’ll be sleeping in it.
Dogs are smart creatures that need lots of mental stimulation, so don’t just leave them at home with nothing to do.
Invest in some puzzle feeders like this dog brick puzzle toy from Outward Hound that you can check on Amazon.
Or if you work from home and you don’t mind splurging try the iFetch interactive ball launcher that you can also see here on Amazon. It comes in two sizes for small and medium dogs and has different settings to adjust the launch distance!
Attention and toys aside, remember to be kind to your puppy, don’t shout or punish them for humping the bed, not only will you not stop the humping but you’ll cause more distress instead.
Socialize Your Puppy
David S. Spiegel, VMD, humping can also be “a sign that a dog hasn’t been socialized correctly and doesn’t know appropriate canine behavior.”
Poor socialization can affect how your dog behaves around other people, and dogs and this can manifest itself in the form of unwanted mounting.
Your dog could also hump objects and their own bed because they can’t properly express their excitement when you have visitors over.
While it’s easier to socialize puppies, older dogs can also be socialized to be more comfortable and confident in expressing themselves without crossing certain boundaries.
If you want to help your dog become more social and lose this habit then look for a certified behaviorist who runs group dog, training classes.
Remove The Bed
If your dog has been consistently interested in humping only their own dog bed, then replacing the bed with a new one could help curb this behavior.
Perhaps your little pooch has associated the specific bed or its material with humping since they were a puppy, so removing it completely could help break this habit.
Instead of choosing a plush bed, you could go for a hard-sided bed like a basket with a soft cushion inside. Basically, something less appealing.
I’d also suggest changing the bed’s location, to distance your dog from the environment that enabled them to hump more freely.
Additionally, if your dog tends to hump their bed at certain hours of the day, like after every walk, then keep your dog away from the bed the moment you return back home.
Why Does My Dog Hump His Bed After Being Fed?
You may notice that your puppy or dog has a set routine for when they hump the bed. In your case, it could be before and after dinner.
Just like pawing, humping their bed before being fed could be your dog’s way to get your attention because they are hungry and that it’s dinner time.
On the other hand, mounting their bed after dinner could be the result of the over-excitement your dog feels from being fed.
While it could be your dog’s way of expressing their pleasure and happiness, this behavior could easily become a habit and a ritual that might be difficult to curb later in their life if left unchecked.
Why Does My Dog Hump His Bed After A Walk?
High energy dogs need lots of exercises to get tired and call it a day, so if your pooch starts humping the bed the moment you return from your walk then they might still have some energy to spare.
Then again if your pup got overstimulated on your walk by meeting other dogs and people then they could still carry some of that excitement with them and release it on their bed.
On the other hand, dogs that haven’t been socialized properly might get anxious around new people and dogs and they will use bed-humping as a way to cope with stressful situations.
Training and socializing your dog can help curb this behavior, but for energetic dogs, you could consider taking them on longer walks or adding a few extra play sessions to tire them out and remember upon your return to distract your pooch with a chewing toy instead.
Why Does My Dog Hump His Bed Before Sleeping?
Some dogs don’t have a problem displaying their humping capabilities, they will not discriminate between your leg or their bed, while others require more privacy.
You might think that shame is what motivates your dog’s secrecy, but they most likely don’t want to be scolded and stopped.
If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise then they might still have some pent-up energy that they need to release, so they’ll hump their bed before sleeping in it.
Aside from adding a few more exercises to your dog’s schedule, you should talk to a dog behaviorist who can help you discipline your puppy by using positive techniques.
Not all bed-humping is bad and depending on your dog’s age this can be a natural expression of their sexual prowess.
This doesn’t mean of course that mounting can’t have a negative effect on your dog or you. That’s why you need to decide for yourself how you feel about your dog humping his bed and you certainly don’t want the behavior to progress toward you.
If it exceeds what is deemed normal, or you simply don’t want to tolerate it then training and positive reinforcement can do wonders, just remember to be kind to your loving fluffball during this process.
Does your dog bed-humps their bed or do they have other preferences?