The sexuality of their pet can be a problem for all dog owners, but is probably heightened when two dogs are kept together, especially if they are of the opposite sex. The majority of male dogs reach puberty between six and 12 months old, but are rarely used for breeding before the age of a year. The female dog has a much more restricted breeding phase than her male partner, who can mate at virtually any stage during the year. It is usual for bitches to mature slightly earlier than dogs, although this depends to some extent on the breed.
Your bitch will have one, or more usually two, periods of sexual activity, frequently described as ‘heats’ or ‘seasons’, each year. These are accompanied by significant behavioral changes. During the first stage of heat, described as pro-estrus, she will become more playful than normal, yet rebuff the attentions of male dogs which venture too close, even to the point of being aggressive.
At this stage, there will be a bloody discharge apparent from her vulva. As this ceases, so the time for mating approaches, and it is particularly vital to keep the bitch away from intact males at this time. Chemical messengers, called pheromones, will attract males to the area, knowing that ,he is ready to mate. You should keep her indoors, and only exercise her under supervision in your garden at this stage. Apart from the risk of male dogs gaining access, there is also a real possibility that the bitch herself may go to great lengths to escape, in order to find a mate.
You cannot rely on training at this stage to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Nor will the bitch be able to control the discharge from her vulva, which is likely to be deposited around the home, on carpeting or furniture if she is allowed to sleep here. Heat can therefore be a troublesome period, which lasts about three weeks on average.
If you keep male dogs, and there is a bitch on heat in the vicinity, you may well find that the dogs disappear, in spite of their usually good behavior. Again, there is virtually nothing you can do by way of training to prevent such instinctive responses, but you should aim to discourage the dogs from wandering off by supervising them closely.
Dogs should only be allowed to mate if they are healthy and the resulting puppies can be assured of good homes. Sadly, this is not always the case, and many dogs continue to be destroyed each year as a result. While it is possible to use drugs to prevent a bitch from conceiving at a particular season, the operation popularly known as ‘spaying’ will ensure that she will not have puppies in the future. Spaying, more technically described as an ovariohysterectomy, entails the removal of both the ovaries and the uterus through the wall of the abdomen. It is normally carried out when the bitch is not in season.
Having decided to spay your bitch, do not allow her to run around excessively for the first few days after surgery, and exercise her on a leash at this stage. The wound should heal rapidly and the stitches can be removed 10 days later. You may had that the bitch then tends to put on weight quite readily, so you will need to reduce her food intake gradually, and ensure that she has adequate exercise.
While a female dog’s sexual activity is confined to just a few weeks of the year, behavioral problems can arise with males, especially puppies, around puberty, and become persistent. If kept with other dogs, they may try to mount them, or else a dog may climb on to your legs, usually when you are sitting down in an armchair. Such behavior may also be encountered in bitches, but is generally far less common.
In either case the remedy should be the same, with the dog being made to lie down when it is about to mount your leg. This will distract it as well before the behaviour becomes habitual. If you find the dog climbing on to the chair arm, the response should be the same. You should otherwise avoid any contact with the dog, so as not to allow this to develop into an attention-seeking ritual. Confine the dog for a few minutes on its own whenever it tries to behave in this way and the phase should soon pass. Otherwise, you may find yourself faced with a major problem. As an example, owners of a Dachshund began by having to confine their dog on 84 occasions for this reason on one day alone, although within three weeks the problem had been resolved. problems which may have a hormonal basis. Aside from reducing the desire to mate, both normally and abnormally, it should also help to prevent the dog from straying. The dog’s level of aggression may similarly be reduced, and there should be fewer accompanying signs, such as urine spraying around the home. Yet otherwise, it is unlikely to alter the personality of the dog, or its level of excitability. You must watch a castrated male’s weight, however, because obesity can then occur quite rapidly.
With a male dog in the longer term, you may want to consider castration if you have no intention of breeding with it. Like spaying, this is not a reversible operation since it entails removal of the testes themselves. Castration can help a number of separate behavioral.
But whether or not you decide to opt for a pure-bred (pedigree) or a cross-bred. there is no substitute for properly training your dog from the start, so that it will become a pleasant and reliable member of the community.
Even before your biter pregnant. remember that it is not be easy to find homes the puppies. There are already many unwanted dogs turned out on to the streets, and you should avoid any risk of adding to the numbers. Try to find good homes, therefore, even before you mate your bitch.