Why Does My Dog Hump Blankets?

Many dog owners have experienced the peculiar behavior of their canine companion suddenly thrusting and rubbing up against blankets, bedding, or other soft household items. This unusual activity is frequently a source of embarrassment and frustration for pet …

dog cover with blanket

Many dog owners have experienced the peculiar behavior of their canine companion suddenly thrusting and rubbing up against blankets, bedding, or other soft household items.

This unusual activity is frequently a source of embarrassment and frustration for pet parents who aren’t sure how to make it stop. But what exactly causes a dog to hump inanimate objects like blankets?

Read on to find out the common reasons behind this perplexing behavior and how to curb it.

Understanding Mounting and Dominance Displays

Mounting or humping is a normal part of canine sexual behavior and reproduction. For intact male dogs, mounting other dogs is one way they may try to establish dominance and hierarchy in their pack.

Neutered males can also mount and hump for dominance-related reasons. Mounting is not just limited to other dogs though – these hormone-driven dominance displays can also be directed at people and objects in the home.

Humping blankets, beds, and toys is your dog’s way of leaving their scent and marking territory. By mounting and rubbing against items that have your smell on them, your dog is essentially claiming them as their own possessions.

For dogs with dominance issues, humping can become obsessive as they try to establish themselves as the “alpha” through inappropriate and excessive marking behaviors.

Anxiety and Overexcitement

Sometimes humping behavior is not about sex or social status but rather a result of nervous excitement or anxiety. Many dogs will hump when they are overly energetic and don’t know what to do with their bodies. It can be a way for them to release pent-up energy and tension.

Dogs may also hump when they feel apprehensive about a new situation or environment. The repetitive motion and stimulation seem to have a calming effect that helps ease their stress and anxiety. This explains why some dogs hump when greeting new people – it’s their way of coping with all the excitement.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Humping frequently occurs as a form of attention-seeking behavior in dogs. When your dog starts obnoxiously humping in front of you, it is generally a plea for you to notice them and give them some stimulation or interaction.

This attention-seeking humping is often seen in dogs who are bored, under-exercised, or lonely.

Dogs that are left alone for too long with nothing to do and limited human contact are especially prone to acting out with problem behaviors like humping. The humping provides them an outlet for their pent-up energy and frustration over being ignored.

It also usually succeeds in getting a response from its owners, even if it’s just yelling at them to stop. For dogs stuck in this pattern, any attention is better than no attention.

How To Stop Your Dog From Humping Blankets

Now that you understand some of the motivations behind this peculiar canine obsession, here are some tips on curbing humping behavior:

1. Spay/Neuter Your Dog

If your dog is still intact, getting them spayed or neutered can significantly decrease humping in both males and females. This eliminates the influence of hormones that drive sexual mounting and dominance displays. Speak to your vet to schedule the procedure.

2. Increase Exercise and Stimulation

Make sure your dog gets adequate daily exercise and enrichment. Take them for longer walks, train them mentally with tricks and puzzles, and provide interactive toys to keep their mind engaged when home alone. A tired, fulfilled dog is less likely to get restless and hump objects.

3. Redirect and Interrupt

When you catch your dog humping, immediately interrupt the behavior with a loud “Eh eh!” or other marker words. Redirect their energy by engaging them in a more positive activity like playing fetch. Reward them with praise and treats for disengaging from humping on cue.

4. Remove Access

Limit access to temptation by keeping blankets and soft items picked up when you are not around to supervise. Crating your dog or confining them to a separate room/pen area when you leave can also prevent the problem behavior.

5. Ignore Attention-Seeking

If your dog seems to hump blankets for attention, resolutely ignore the behavior. Giving any reaction, even a negative one, will only encourage attention-seeking. Walk away and reward them when they are calm and settled.

6. Consult a Trainer or Behaviorist

For persistent and obsessive humping issues, seek help from a professional dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist. They can assess your dog’s unique situation and offer customized behavior modification therapy to curb the problem long-term. Medication may also be recommended in extreme cases.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs Humping Blankets

1. Why does my female dog hump blankets?

  • Like males, female dogs may hump to communicate dominance or due to overexcitement. Spaying generally reduces but does not always eliminate humping behavior in females.

2. Is my dog weird for humping blankets?

  • No, humping inanimate objects is actually quite common among dogs. While the behavior may seem odd to us, it makes sense from the dog’s perspective.

3. Is my dog trying to mate with blankets?

  • Mounting blankets is unlikely an attempt to actually mate but rather a display stemming from hormones, anxiety, attention-seeking, etc. Neutering your dog helps reduce humping driven by sexual urges.

4. At what age do dogs start humping?

  • Most puppies begin to experiment with mounting and humping behaviors around 6-9 months old as they reach sexual maturity. However, humping can start as early as 3 months or be delayed until up to 18 months old.

5. Should I punish my dog for humping?

  • Do not punish or yell at your dog for humping, as this can cause anxiety and exacerbate the issue. Instead, interrupt the behavior and redirect their energy to an appropriate activity. Reinforce them with rewards for disengaging.

The Bottom Line

Humping may look peculiar to us humans, but for dogs, it’s a normal albeit often undesirable behavior. To curb your dog’s obsession with humping blankets, be sure to give them adequate daily exercise, stimulation, and attention. Limit access to tempting objects and work on training them to disengage from humping on cue. If your dog seems distressed or the issue persists, consult your veterinarian or professional dog trainer/behaviorist for additional help. With patience and consistency, using positive techniques, you can teach your dog more appropriate ways to expend their energy and gain your attention.

Featured Image: istockphoto.com

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