Dogs are social animals, and many enjoy the company of their own kind. When a female becomes pregnant, however, her owners may choose to separate her from the father dog as well as other dogs in the home for safety or feeding purposes. Knowing when to part a pregnant dog from her pack will ensure that she gets the proper nutrition her body needs, and keep her unborn puppies safe.
When dogs cohabit a living space, they work out their differences on their own. The dog's social system, called pack hierarchy, establishes dominance in a canine social group. Dogs will feel most comfortable when they understand their position in their pack, according to veterinarian Myrna Milani. If the pregnant female and the male, or stud, dog have been together previously and worked out this system before the pregnancy, there is no harm in allowing them to remain together for a time. Because dogs are social, keeping the female with her pack may prevent stress during her pregnancy.
A pregnant dog's nutrition requirements will vary greatly from that of the male, and dog owners may find it necessary to separate the two during feeding times. According to PetEducation.com, pregnant dogs should be fed a high-quality premium dog food before and during her pregnancy. As the pregnant dog enters the fourth or fifth week of her gestation, she'll need a premium performance puppy chow to keep her unborn puppies healthy. Keeping her separated from the father dog during feeding times will ensure that she gets the calories she needs, and prevent the male from becoming obese.
The Final Weeks
When the final three weeks of gestation begin, it's time for a pregnant dog to bid her packmates goodbye and prepare for the birth of the small, furry bundles of joy. The isolation of the pregnant female prevents her exposure to the canine herpesvirus, which can be fatal to her puppies, but may also serve to protect the female's packmates from potential scuffles should she prove to be cranky.
When Puppies Arrive
The isolation period beginning three weeks before the puppies are whelped should also include the three weeks following their delivery. This prevents the puppies from getting sick or harmed due to contact with another dog. After a period of about six weeks, the pups may be carefully introduced to other members of the pack. Any interaction between the male dog and the female or puppies should be closely supervised by their owner.
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Ceter: Care of the Pregnant Dog
- 2ndChance.info: Breeding and Caring for Your Pregnant Dog
- PetEducation.com: Pregnancy Diagnosis & Caring for the Pregnant Dog
- Phi-Vestavia: Stud Dog Management
- Myrna Milani: The Dynamics of Canine Pack Structure
- Arizona Humane Society: Understanding Canine Rivalry and Pack Order Issues
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images