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Puppy humping

The last thing you want when grandma comes over is for your puppy to wrap its front legs around hers and have a socially awkward “go” at her. While this is not fun and definitely not pleasant for those with delicate sensibilities, puppy humping is normal and not a sexual behavior.


Both male and female dogs will hump. Puppies can start puberty at about 6 to 9 months of age. That means that a young puppy is not humping as a sexual behavior. If that’s the case, then what is it, why do they do it, and what can you do to keep grandma from getting offended?


Humping is a natural behavior. It’s often attributed to dominance, dominance typically involves striving for priority access to resources (food, water, sex)


In puppies, humping can be “practice” for adult sexual behavior, a sign of mental or emotional overstimulation, overtiredness, stress or insecurity, or even an invitation to play.


Humping is one of what’s known as “displacement” behaviors. When dogs are nervous or socially anxious, they can sniff, scratch, dig, hump, or similar behaviors. It’s kind of like when humans are nervous we will play with our hair or fiddle with our phones or check our watches.


Even if grandma doesn’t really mind, we want to teach our dogs to have socially acceptable behaviors, so we recommend taking steps to discourage this as an option. This includes:

  • Distracting the puppy with a toy, some food tossed on the floor, or another activity

  • Giving the puppy a crate time out to help with the mental/emotional overstimulation or stress; chewing can be a great stress reliever for dogs, so including a stuffed kong or bully stick in the time out can help diffuse the overstimulation

  • Don’t worry too much. Help your puppy figure out more appropriate behaviors and know that puppy humping usually doesn’t turn into adult humping unless encouraged or rewarded.

If you have an adult that humps, it could be a sexual behavior (if the dog is not spayed or neutered) or have a different cause and we suggest consulting a trainer or behaviorist.

Tel: 352-441-1861

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