Females in heat have a bad rap but, honestly, heat cycles are no big deal. It’s mildly inconvenient but if you don’t have any intact males it’s only mildly inconvenient. If you do have intact males you have to live with a squeaky boy who can’t sit still and won’t stop harassing the poor girl, which is mostly really annoying.
Since Ava and Rory have both finally come into heat, and I have a friend who was dreading the prospect of her Rottweiler puppy coming into season, I was inspired to share.
Learn Some Stuff
First, go read this article by Nancy Tanner on the female canine reproductive cycle. She describes the timing, signs, behavior changes, and management strategies.
For the abnormal and non-average, read this article.
You can also talk to your vet or breeder. Vets will know more about the physiological side (of course) whereas breeders will have frontline experience. Most vets have little experience with breeding dogs themselves.
Buy Some Stuff
Your girl needs panties, and don’t you dare subject her to the hot mess known as off-the-shelf panties. Instead do yourselves a favor and get custom made panties. They’re more expensive but they fit exceptionally well. That means she’s comfy (as much as a dog in underwear can be) and you don’t have to worry as much about them falling off. Consider them an investment in her happiness and your sanity. You should buy at least 3 pairs. I got mine from Shari Walliker at MuttsButtsDog Diapers.
Buy regular ladies panty liners that don’t have wings; dog specific ones are a waste of money.
Buy baby wipes. Sometimes they pee their pants (especially puppies) or just need a little tidying.
Depending on your situation and dog, create an airlock. This is a secondary barrier to prevent escapes through open doors, so a baby gate or x-pen would do nicely. If you have multiple dogs you may need additional gates to create separate spaces. This portion of Grisha Stewart’s BAT 2.0 book describes airlocks.
- Panties are not chastity belts. They can and do fall off or get pulled off. I suggest putting sheets/blankets on furniture and using your backup sheets on your bed. This also means you can never leave her alone with an intact male or unsupervised outdoors, particularly when she’s in oestrus.
- Let her run around the house naked to prevent chafing and peed pants. My girls run naked while we’re at work and wear panties the rest of the time.
- Stay at home. This prevents any snarky behavior from her or from other dogs. Intact males are obnoxious and determined, even if she’s not receptive.
- Be patient and empathic; females in heat act remarkably similar to women on their periods.
- Bathe her after her cycle is finished. This will remove her sexy scent and prevent other dogs from harassing her, plus she probably needs it anyway. Wash all bedding, sheets, and blankets as well as her panties.