It’s not perhaps what you were expecting when you gave your puppy their new toys. Sure, you thought it would get it’s fair share of use. But being humped… well… let’s leave it at that. Naturally, you will want to know why your new pup does this; is it normal or even something to be concerned about? Will it be something they grow out of, or is there something you now need to do? Well, I’m here to answer all of these important questions…
So, why does my puppy hump his toy? Puppies typically hump toys to express their developing sexual awareness or because they want to play or socialize. Some puppies hump their toys to relieve excess excitement or stress, in which case you may want to help them deal with these emotions in other ways. More rarely, humping can become compulsive, so treatment is required.
Perhaps not a straight-up answer you were hoping to read, either.
So let us delve into each reason to help you identify which one it is in your puppy (spoiler, it could be more than one).
Then we will look at what an appropriate response looks like on your part.
Reasons Why A Puppy May Hump His Toy
Your puppy may be humping his toy to express sexual behavior, a desire to play, or as a means to seek relief from feeling too much stress or excitement. Other times, a puppy may hump his toy as a way of interacting socially (especially if he hasn’t been socialized properly). Sometimes, though, humping can become excessive and develop into a compulsive disorder.
Both male and female puppies may mount toys, other dogs, and people as part of their developing sexual awareness.
You may also observe flirtatious body language in your puppy, such as:
- Play bows
- Ears rotated backward
- Tail up
A Desire To Play
Puppies may mount their toys as a way of playing, which is completely normal.
Some puppies who are not getting enough socialization may mount toys as a way of expressing their desire to play.
Other puppies who haven’t learned how to socialize properly with other dogs can become over-aroused during play.
Being Excited or Stressed
There are puppies (and adult dogs) who will seek to relieve themselves of too much excitement or stress by mounting their toys.
For instance, if you see your puppy mounting his toy just after meeting another dog or after you come home after a short absence, it could be he’s expressing his excitement or stress.
Some puppies will mount toys (or each other) as a way of expressing dominance or social status.
As Part Of A Compulsive Disorder
Puppies can develop humping as a compulsive habit, particularly if they do it to relieve stress.
If humping his toy starts interfering with your puppy’s normal functioning, it is becoming a compulsive problem that you’ll need to address.
Is It Normal For Puppies To Hump Their Toys?
It’s normal for puppies to hump their toys as part of learning about the world. However, some medical problems can cause humping, or at least an excess of humping, which is worth considering and perhaps exploring further.
When Humping Toys Is Normal
Mounting and humping are normal behaviors that most dogs will exhibit at one time or another.
Puppies will hump their toys, other animals, other objects (such as blankets), and people.
Sometimes your puppy will fully hump his toy, and other times he’ll just rub up against it.
When they are small, puppies will often mount and hump their siblings as well as their toys and people.
Some dog experts believe that puppies do this to practice for future sexual encounters.
As puppies start to mature, they may mount their toys and littermates and other older dogs.
Even after being neutered or spayed, puppies may continue to hump because they have learned that it feels good.
When You Might Need To Be Concerned
Sometimes there are medical problems that can influence whether your puppy will hump his toy or not. Examples are:
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Skin allergies
- Prostate tumors
- Priapism (persistent, sometimes painful erections)
The above issues can become quite serious and require medical treatment – there would be no point in trying to address the behavior first.
Puppies who suffer from any of the above conditions will often lick and chew their genitals. Take your puppy to the vet if you notice he is:
- Chewing himself excessively
- Licking himself frequently
- Often rubbing his body against toys and other objects
- Mounting toys, other dogs, or people excessively
- Gaining weight
- Suddenly more lethargic than usual
Once you address any medical problems, the behavior should take care of itself unless it’s become a habit (see below).
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you don’t suspect a medical cause:
- Does your puppy hump his toy in a specific location? If so, he may be showing signs of territoriality.
- Has there been a recent change in your circumstances, such as the addition of a new family member or a house move? Your puppy may be trying to relieve stress.
- Have new people come to stay in the neighborhood? Or are there other changes in the area, such as a recent construction site?
- Does your puppy hump his toy whenever they meet guests or when they greet you after an absence? He may be trying to relieve excess excitement.
- Does your puppy hump his toy whenever you’re away? He may be showing signs of separation anxiety.
If you suspect an underlying behavioral issue, this is another reason to get your puppy to the vet.
Better to check him out to be on the safe side.
How Long Do Puppies Typically Hump Their Toys For?
Puppies will typically start humping at around 3 to 6 weeks of age, although their humping doesn’t carry any sexual overtones until they reach 6 months of age. They don’t typically grow out of humping – but the amount they hump can decrease significantly after neutering or spaying.
Puppies hump as a means of exploring the world around them.
When your puppy hasn’t reached puberty (under 6 months old), he’s likely to be humping toys out of a desire to play and explore dominance.
Once or twice a day is considered normal humping behavior.
However, over time your puppy can become addicted to humping his toys since humping produces dopamine.
If your puppy is easily stressed or excitable, he will be more likely to continue to hump more often as he gets older.
If you notice him humping more than 4 or 5 times a day, he isn’t likely to grow out of it. You’ll want to use training to reduce this habit (see below).
Once your puppy reaches 6 to 12 months of age, he has entered puberty, and his humping will start to be motivated by sexual desire.
As long as your puppy humps once or twice a day at this stage, and he isn’t aggressive about it, there’s no cause for concern.
However, if your puppy has reached puberty and he’s humping 3 to 5 times daily, you’ll need to start positive reinforcement training to redirect your puppy’s attention and energy.
It will be essential to allow your puppy other ways of releasing his urges without always resorting to humping toys.
Should You Stop A Puppy From Humping Their Toys?
If your puppy only humps his toy occasionally (for instance, once or twice a day) and it doesn’t bother you, other dogs, or other people, you don’t need to stop him from doing so. However, there are times when it can be beneficial to neuter or spay your dog to reduce this behavior.
Consider Neutering or Spaying Your Dog
If your male puppy is still intact, you may want to consider neutering him. The best time to neuter a small breed is between 6 to 12 months of age.
If your puppy is a large breed, it’s best to wait till he’s fully physically mature – typically from 12 to 18 months of age.
Neutering doesn’t always stop a puppy from mounting, but it will reduce his sexual motivation significantly.
If your female dog is still intact, the same applies (and at the same ages as above).
Spaying or neutering your puppy has other benefits, such as:
- Preventing the birth of unwanted puppies
- Helping to prevent mammary cancers
- Helping to prevent testicular cancers
If Your Dog Also Humps Other Dogs
If, in addition to humping his toy, your dog also humps other dogs, you may want to put a stop to this behavior.
Many dogs will take offense at being humped and perhaps start a fight with your puppy.
You’ll want to play games with your puppy so that he’s less interested in other dogs, as well as teach him the ‘leave it’ command.
Distraction can be very helpful for these dogs (see below).
How To Stop A Puppy from Humping Their Toy(s)
There are several ways to stop a puppy from humping his toy. Some things you can do yourself, and others require the assistance of an expert behaviorist.
What You Can Do Yourself
Here are some strategies you can employ yourself to reduce the amount of humping behavior:
Try Distracting Your Puppy
Try to get his attention before he starts humping (if you can). Some puppies give cues beforehand, such as panting, licking, whining or rubbing up against their toy.
Distract your puppy with a game or a chewie, or toss another object he likes.
You could also try asking him to perform previously learned tricks or commands, such as sit, down, paw, etc.
Try Imposing A ‘Time-Out’
Teach your dog the ‘stop’ command (or you can use ‘leave it’). If he doesn’t obey you, take him to a quiet, safe area for a time-out.
Be sure there are no fun toys in that area. Leave him alone for one to three minutes, then let him out and act as if nothing has happened.
If your puppy tries to hump his toy again, repeat the above sequence.
Try Using Positive Reinforcement Training
You can teach your dog the ‘leave it’ command, and then put it to use if he tries to hump his toy.
Be sure to reward him when he does what you want.
Try Preventative Training
If your puppy humps his toy when he’s around people (e.g., guests), give him something else to do.
For example, ask him to sit for a treat. As soon as you start to see him go to hump his toy, ask him to sit again and give him another treat.
Once your dog has calmed down and is following your commands, you can play with him for a few minutes with another favorite toy as a reward.
Over time, your puppy will learn there are better rewards than humping.
Head Off Stressful Situations
If your puppy tends to hump his toy to deal with stressful situations, avoid these situations as much as possible.
If you can’t avoid them – e.g., a vet visit – try to reduce your puppy’s stress. For example, if he finds vet visits stressful, take him there frequently for social visits so he can get used to the environment.
During these visits, give your puppy lots of delicious treats and keep the visit a nice one.
Once you’ve made a few ‘treat trips’ to the vet’s office, your dog will enjoy the experience.
If he gets stressed when meeting new people, teach him to sit for treats as you greet visitors.
Try Anticipating Problems Before They Occur
If your puppy tends to hump a toy in response to certain events (such as people hugging, greeting each other, arguing), have your dog sit and stay during these times.
Reward him when he does what you ask. It is very reassuring for dogs to obey learned commands, as they know they are pleasing you, which is their main aim in life!
When To Consult An Animal Behaviorist
If Your Puppy Becomes Aggressive
If your puppy becomes aggressive if you try to stop him from humping, you will usually need to consult a qualified professional for assistance.
Veterinary behaviorists can also be of help – just be sure they have professional training to deal with treating aggression.
If Your Puppy Has a Compulsive Disorder
If your puppy has been humping his toy several times a day to the point where it’s compulsive, you may wish to consult an animal behaviorist to see what options are available to you.
Puppies often develop a tendency to hump things. And toys, well, let’s just say they are one of the most likely recipients of such advances.
Whether or not you can or even need to do something will ultimately depend on the context and the underlying reason behind the behavior. And how long it ultimately goes on for.
If you are particularly worried or concerned, then it’s that age-old piece of advice – consult a vet.
Related guides you may want to check out:
- Puppy Humping At 8 Weeks [5 Reasons Why They Do This]
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Toys Off The Bed? [7 Reasons!]
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Toys On Me? [5 Reasons Explained]
- Dog Carries Toy Everywhere [Why & What To Do]
- Why Does My Dog Hold A Toy In His Mouth?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.