Having just got through a frantic 10 days I thought I would share some tips with you for How to cope when your dog is in season.
Female dogs come into season between 9 and 12 months and can last between 2-4 weeks. Opinions are divided as to the best time to spay your female dog if you do not intend to breed from her. Some vets say before the first season, others suggest 8 – 12 weeks after. When Winnie came to live with us we knew her season was due so on the advice of our vet we booked her in to be spayed. However, she started her season 48 hours before the day!
If you only have a female dog the practicalities can be easily managed. She will likely bleed, so you will need lots of towels and washing powder, be prepared to do lots of laundry! You might need some dog pants – I made Winnie some out of fleece fabric and they did the job very well, and looked quite fetching to boot! Make sure they are comfortable and washable!
Many suggest confining your girl for the whole time but I think Winnie would have gone crazy, and to be frank, so would we! So, if you do take her out for a walk, maybe avoid the places she will want to run, and keep her on a lead as there are entire males out there that will sniff her out and if they meet up several hundred yards from where you are, it is unlikely you will be able to interact before the males urges have taken over. If you have access to a completely safe, enclosed area to exercise your dog off lead, they will appreciate this and you will too, otherwise all the pent up energy will likely manifest as mischievousness at home! An extendable lead might help her have some independence on walks where she is used to being off lead.
Having a male dog in the house, albeit one who suffers from Cryptorchidism – no sign of manhood in between his legs, we were worried that he would still have the urges that male dogs have around the irresistible scent of a female in season. For the first 10 days he showed virtually no interest but on day 11 it was like he went to bed as a boy and woke up as a man!! He would not leave her alone!
If you have an entire male dog in the house you will need to be extra vigilant – not just because your girl is far too young to have puppies, but you may have dogs that are related and a pairing will be completely in appropriate between them.
So, how do you keep them apart?
If you are able to send your boy for a mini break with a friend or relative, this is by far the easiest and kindest option. If this is not a possibility – as it wasn’t for us – managing the situation is the only way.
My advice is to get a stair gate or two! It is essential to separate your dogs while in the home, but a stair gate allows them to see each other. Winnie and George are young and have formed a strong bond and didn’t cope well when they couldn’t see each other, so having their beds on opposite sides of a stair gate seemed the best way to settle them as having them in separate rooms behind closed doors caused distress.
Separating them as much as you can is the fairest thing for your boy. We took one each to our place of work, keeping them apart during the day and in the evenings my husband spent a lot of time in the spare bedroom with one dog and I spent time in the lounge with the other! We slept in separate rooms with one dog each! They went into the garden separately and we walked them separately. I also used Skullcap and Valerian tablets to keep both dogs calmer and it seemed to work for us.
We did all of this not just to keep the risk of unwanted pregnancy to a minimum but to minimize the stress for George. We did have some crying and howling at night, but generally he settled with the comfort of one of us with him. I have heard of older, more mature male dogs who have howled for the whole 21 days! We were lucky he only did this for a week.
Winnie is now coming to the end of her season and George no longer has the urges so harmony has returned to our home – well as much as you can have with two crazy whippet pups around! If you find yourself in this situation, stick with the slight inconvenience and break in routine, it doesn’t last long and in the long run will far better than the consequences of not being super vigilant during this vulnerable time for your girl.