How Do Dogs Nest?

by Naomi Millburn
    Nesting behavior is common in mother dogs right before going into labor.

    Nesting behavior is common in mother dogs right before going into labor.

    Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

    One normal and natural behavior that is often fascinating to people but rather common in the animal kingdom -- including in human beings -- is nesting. Within the canine species, maternal nesting behaviors are especially prevalent during the short days and hours leading up to the birth of a litter.

    Searching for the Right Place

    Expectant mother dogs usually proceed to nest by searching for a suitable and safe place in which to welcome their upcoming young. The criteria for an appropriate nesting spot is typically something that is isolated, warm, dry, peaceful and calm. Canines tend to prefer confined areas for these purposes -- think narrow walls and comparatively lower ceilings.

    Other Behaviors Right Before Parturition

    Along with the quest for a good place to give birth, you may observe a dog engaging in a variety of other behaviors -- think attempts to hide away, throwing up, appetite loss and restless pacing, according to the website for the Northern Virginia Community College at Loudoun. If you can't seem to track down your doggie for long periods of time and she seems especially antsy when you do see her, she may be smack dab in the middle of nesting mode and preparing for parturition -- the physical process of delivering her young.

    Specific Examples of Possible Nesting Spots

    Dogs that reside in the wild nest by creating their own cozy burrows, or at least by finding abandoned ones. If a mother dog lives in a home, her nesting may consist of looking for the quietest nooks and crannies of the household. Some possible specific nesting locales include the back of a deep closet, underneath a bed or couch, inside of a crate or even on a small-sized doggie bed. As long as the locale is far away from chaos and noise -- whether due to vacuum cleaners or the chatter of humans -- the mother dog may feel relaxed and fully prepared for birthing.

    Instinctive Behavior

    Nesting isn't exclusive to mother dogs that are about to give birth, however. If your notice your pet has a penchant for obsessively digging onto the floor before she lies down to go to sleep, it may be pure natural instinct. Pawing and pacing around a future sleeping site are both commons way in which dogs nest. Your pet's ancestral dogs from generations back may have burrowed into the soil before laying down to rest -- a measure for keeping warm. Although finding ways to stay warm may not be necessary for a dog living in a comfortable temperature-controlled residence, instinct is tough to ignore.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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