There are several reasons why puppies may “hump” or “mount” their beds, but typically this behavior can be trained out and should not cause serious concern.
So, why do puppies hump their beds, and what can you do about it? Mounting a bed or object is normal behavior for an excited puppy who is playing or sexually aroused. If it happens continuously, a medical or behavioral reason may need addressing.
Owners of puppies who continuously hump may be concerned, so when is the behavior normal, how can you counteract it, and when should you seek medical attention? Let’s find out.
When Is Humping Normal Behavior for Puppies?
Both male and female canines may display the behavior of humping their beds, but, more likely than not, if the behavior is not persistent (occurring once or twice a day), it is part of normal behavior. Puppies typically exhibit humping or mounting if they are:
- An aggressive breed
- Sexually aroused
However, animal behavioral experts have observed that the most common reason a puppy mounts their bed is as an act of dominance, mainly to show ownership of the bed rather than any sign of sexual arousal. Stress or other aggravating factors in the home can also cause a puppy to act out on their bed if they are overexcited or irritated.
In general, dogs less than one year of age are not spayed or neutered mount or hump more often than older dogs.
How To Stop It
When the humping behavior results from one of the common factors listed above, the solution is simple and easy to implement. Consistent training in the form of positive reinforcement will be necessary to ensure your puppy understands that the behavior is inappropriate for playing or showing excitement.
Proper training can correct a puppy’s behavior when they attempt to show dominance through humping. Adequate exercise and addressing anything that may be causing stress to the puppy are other means to address the common causes for the puppy to mount the bed.
A common trick among experienced pet owners is to distract the puppy with a toy, game, or snack whenever the puppy tries to hump their bed. Part of the distraction can be to teach a new trick or attempt to reinforce old tricks and then reward the good behavior with a treat. The distraction helps support good behavior.
Is the Humping a Sign of a Medical Problem?
A puppy that excessively humps its bed becomes a matter of concern because the behavior may indicate a medical condition that needs addressing.
The medical causes for this humping behavior can include:
- Skin irritation or rash
- Prostate problems
- Urinary tract infection
- Inflamed and irritated genitalia (due to disease or infection)
- Priapism (persistent, sometimes painful erections)
How To Get Help
You can address these problems by taking your puppy to a vet for a diagnosis. It can also be helpful to try washing or removing any new items such as blankets or use a different detergent if you recently washed the puppy’s bed.
Washing the puppy may also help if the puppy was playing outside and some plant, chemical, or insects irritated the puppy’s genitalia. Still, overall the puppy should be brought to a vet when possible.
Humping and Behavioral Problems
If the puppy continues to hump their bed after eliminating the possibility of a medical issue, there may be a behavioral problem that requires professional help. When the humping behavior becomes excessive and interferes with the puppy’s life and your life, it’s time to seek a professional’s help.
How To Find Help
Once your veterinarian rules out a medical condition, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or Associate CAAB) may be able to help. Animal behaviorists aid in the well-being of dogs while supporting humans and assisting owners in understanding animal behavior. These behaviorists can help by:
- Listening to the issue
- Working with your veterinarian to address the humping
- Explain the behavior
- Educate you and your family on how best to handle the behavior
- Continually following up until eliminating the behavior
If you cannot find a behaviorist near you, then a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) may be able to help. You should always inquire into the qualifications of the CPDT and ensure they have professional or academic training with sufficient experience in treating behaviors, as this may not be a requirement for a CPDT certification in your location.
Generally speaking, humping the bed is just a common occurrence when raising a puppy and should not be considered abnormal. Both males and females exhibit the humping and mounting behavior, but it is typically addressed through training and is often an easy solution to implement. If the behavior persists, consult with your veterinarian to rule out a medical condition and discuss the potential need for a certified animal behaviorist to eliminate the humping behavior.