Your doggie might usually be your fluffy little girl, but that doesn't mean she's resistant to growing up and all of the transitions that go along with it. The emergence of the heat cycle, for one, might bring upon temporary behavioral changes in your adorable pooch.
Female dogs start going into heat once they're of reproductive maturity. This generally occurs when they're somewhere between 6 months and 2 years in age. If dogs are spayed, however, they won't go into heat. Dogs enter into these cycles roughly two times annually, with "in between" breaks of roughly 6 months. When female dogs are in heat, they essentially are open to mating. Their female hormone levels elevate, then drop drastically. Their ovaries then emit eggs for purposes of fertilization. Heat typically lasts 2 to 3 weeks or so.
Sure, your doggie might have the sweetest overall disposition you can imagine, but that doesn't mean the heat cycle won't make her a little cranky. With all of the hormones going up and down, you might notice a plethora of emotions and behaviors, from anxiety to agitation. Because of ovulation, dogs in heat often even feel physical discomfort -- and act notably grouchy because of it. A lot of whimpering often just signifies major frustration.
Female dogs who are in season frequently display differences in their focusing abilities. Your dog might seem a lot less interested in your company, but at the same time, a lot more attentive to other things going on around her, from new dogs walking down the street with their owners to conspicuous noises that come from outside.
Dogs in estrus often invite other dogs to mate. If your dog is in the presence of a male dog, she might suggest the mating process by giving off key bodily signals -- tightening up her hind limbs and raising her rear end any time he gets close.
Pooches in heat might also often seem eager to get away from their cozy homes -- all for the purposes of tracking down male dogs for mating. It's important never to allow dogs in heat to have access to yards or gardens that aren't reliably fenced or gated.
Dogs in heat desperately want male dogs to be aware of their availability as mating partners. They sometimes attempt to communicate their status by doing a lot of pesky peeing -- everywhere. After all, the smell of their urine often is effective for quickly luring in the boy doggies -- it's packed with pheromones.
Spaying dogs promptly ends the heat cycle -- and all of the behavioral factors that accompany it. Dogs who are spayed before becoming sexually mature never experience heat. Spaying puppies who are around 6 months in age is commonplace. However, the only way to figure out the most appropriate age for spaying individual cuties is by consulting a veterinarian.
- Canine Behavior - Insights and Answers; Bonnie V. Beaver
- DogChannel.com: Spay and Neuter Facts
- ASPCA: How Will Spaying Change My Dog?
- LSU School of Veterinary Medicine: The Normal Canine Estrous Cycle
- ASPCA: Estrus or Heat
- Vetwest Animal Hospitals: Reproduction in Dogs
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Breeding Management of Small Animals
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images