10 Common Behaviors of a Female Dog in Heat + Additional Tips!

If you have an unspayed female dog, you have already witnessed your pup go into heat. Even if your pooch is still a puppy, you’ll soon have to face this. Learning some common behaviors of a female dog in heat can help you face this with ease.

Some breeds can go into heat very young, even when they are just six months old. It is very important to know what to expect so you can help your dog or prevent unwanted puppies.

So, what are some common behaviors of a female dog in heat? Here’s everything you need to know:

Common Behaviors of a Female Dog in Heat

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All dogs behave in different ways. Some pups will always let you know when something’s wrong. Others will remain quiet until things get out of hands. This also means that not all dogs will let you know they’re going into heat in the same way.

Still, if you learn some common behaviors of a female dog in heat, chances are you’ll recognize at least some of them when the time comes.

Here are 10 signs to look for:

1. Licking of the Genital Area

A female dog in heat will likely start grooming excessively. This includes licking of the genital area. Chances are your female pooch will lick herself more often than not!

There are several reasons behind this. First off, your pup will experience bloody vaginal discharge and she’ll want to keep herself clean.

At the same time, her vulva will be swollen. This might even be visible with the naked eye! To ease the discomfort, she will lick herself

Don’t worry – if you see common female dog in heat behavior, pain isn’t great. She’s simply feeling a bit uncomfortable and is trying to help herself.

2. Reduced Appetite

A female dog in heat has her mind on one thing alone, and that’s mating. As such, food won’t interest her much. This can lead to reduced appetite.

Many owners think their dog is getting sick when they notice she hasn’t touched her food bowl for hours. While this might be the case, many times she is simply entering heat.

Some female dogs will refuse to eat for so long they are risking malnutrition. Try offering your pup healthy treats instead to make sure her health isn’t compromised.

3. Frequent Urination

If you start noticing your dog urinating more often than usual, this might be one of the common behaviors of a female dog in heat. This is especially true if you notice her peeing just a few drops in various places – maybe even inside your home.

This is a way a female dog will allow males know she is nearby and ready to mate. In fact, this behavior will be more common if she’s near males.

Another funny behavior you might notice is your female dog raising her back leg when urinating – just as if she was a male! This is so she can spread her smell further.

4. Excessive Tail Wagging

Your dog in heat will wag her tail more often than usually. This isn’t just a sign of happiness. By wagging her tail, your pup is exposing her backside, inviting male dogs for a mating session.

Not just that, but she’s also spreading her smell around. This will allow male dogs in her area to sense her and to let them know she is ready for mating.

5. Clingy Behavior

A dog in heat will be clingier than you’re used to. They’ll love to get affection, especially petting. You might also think that their desire for petting has no end! However, there is more to this than you might think.

When you pet your dog, you’ll activate her pheromone glands. This helps her release her scented hormones that will attract other canines – male dogs, to be precise. While you won’t smell these hormones, you’re helping her release them. In other words, you’re helping your dog let males know she’s sexually available.

6. Receptive to Sniffing

You have probably noticed that most of the time your female dog isn’t too happy about males coming to sniff her every now and then. She might snap at them and even behave aggressively.

However, a female dog in heat will gladly allow males to sniff her backside. In fact, she’ll even initiate it by pushing her tail to the side and pointing her butt toward male dogs.

This is also an invitation for male dogs to mate with her. As such, you should keep your pup on a leash all the time – unless, of course, you plan to breed her.

7. Posture Change

If you notice your dog crouching and moving her tail to the side, you might start worrying that there is something wrong with her back. Instead, this is a clear sign that your female dog wants to mate.

This is a suggestive pose for dogs, as she is allowing males to mount her more easily. In fact, you might notice this posture becoming more prominent when you touch or pet your pooch! This is a clear sign that she’s not in pain, just flirtatious.

8. Humping

Female dogs can hump and mount, too! This isn’t a behavior exclusive to males. In fact, she might be more up to mounting than most male dogs would be. She might try to mount other pets, your leg, your furniture, anything that’s within her reach!

Stopping her from doing this can be nearly impossible. Her hormones are going wild and she’ll want to fulfill her sexual urge. You can try to yell at her or even to threaten with a rolled-up newspaper, but don’t expect to change much.

9. Nesting

A dog in heat will nest more than usually. You’ll notice her rolling in circles, carrying her blanket everywhere and trying to make herself a nice nesting place.

Just like all other common behaviors of a female dog in heat, this one also has biological reasons. Your female dog is getting ready for not just mating but also for having her new litter of puppies. As such, she is preparing herself a nice cozy cot.

10. Mood Swings

A dog in heat will experience mood swings similar to their female owners. They will have hormonal imbalance that will make them behave grumpier, even more anxious than usual.

You might notice your beloved pup has suddenly lost interest in you and in everything around her. Don’t worry, as this is only temporary. As soon as her hormones return to balance once the heat is over, she’ll once again be her sweet self.

Your pup might also whine more often than usual. When it comes to female dog in heat behavior, crying doesn’t mean that she is in pain. Instead, this is how she’s trying to find a mate.

What Are the 4 Stages of a Dog in Heat?

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To fully understand your dog’s behavior, you should also understand the entire heat cycle – also known as the estrus cycle.

Each dog that goes into heat will experience four stages:

  • Proestrus stage
  • Estrus stage
  • Diestrus stage
  • Anestrus stage

You can expect your dog’s first heat when she is around six months old – although this will depend on the breed. Smaller breeds will be younger when they get into heat, while large dogs might not get their cycle until they are 15 months old.

How long does a dog in heat bleed will also depend on many factors, but knowing what stage of estrus cycle she’s in will also help.

Here’s how you can recognize what stage she’s in by some of the common behaviors of a female dog in heat:

Proestrus Stage

This is the first stage of the estrus cycle. While most dogs will experience it for around 9 days, it can last anywhere between 3 to 17 days. This is the first stage of the estrus cycle.

Some of the common signs include:

  • Change in personality
  • Change in appetite
  • Tail tucking
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • Discharge

Estrus Stage

This is the stage during which your pup enters fertile stage and this when the true heat begins. Just like proestrus stage, the estrus stage usually lasts 9 days, but it’s normal for it to last anywhere between 3 to 21 days.

Here is how you can know whether your dog is in her estrus stage:

  • Flirtatious behavior
  • Discharge becomes lighter
  • The swelling of the vulva goes down

If your dog starts mating without you wanting to breed her, it’s essential to know how to get dogs unstuck fast. While this isn’t a guarantee that your dog won’t get pregnant, it’s worth a shot.

Diestrus Stage

Once your dog gets out of the estrus stage and enters diestrus stage, she’ll no longer be fertile.

If your pup got pregnant, the diestrus stage lasts until she gives birth. This usually lasts around 60 days.

If she didn’t get pregnant, this stage can last longer – up to 90 days.

Assuming she didn’t get pregnant, you can notice these signs:

  • Vulva is no longer swollen
  • No more discharge
  • Flirtatious behaviors will stop

Anestrus Stage

Anestrus is the final stage of the estrus cycle. It is also known as the resting stage. At the same time, this is the longest stage – it can last anywhere between 100 and 150 days.

After the anestrus stage, the estrus cycle starts over once again.

How to Comfort a Dog in Heat?

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Contrary to popular belief, your dog won’t be in any pain while in heat. However, she might feel slight discomfort. As such, there are a few things you can do to help her feel at ease. This includes:

  • Use a diaper. This will keep her from spreading her scents around.
  • Walk her during the day or earlier in the morning when there are not many dog owners walking their dogs.
  • Exercise her more than usual.
  • Give her more baths to minimize her scent.
  • Use calming sounds, scents, and treats.
  • Buy her a stress-relief coat.
  • Keep her distracted.
  • Keep her on the leash.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on her when in the dog park or backyard.
  • Spend more time with her and give her as much affection as possible.
  • Spay her.

Bottom Line

If you want to be a responsible dog owner, you need to know some common behaviors of a female dog in heat. This will not only prevent unwanted puppies, but it can help you keep your dog calm and healthy.

All dogs have their personalities, but every female pup will express at least some of these symptoms and behaviors when starting her estrus cycle. Keep an eye on her at all times and make sure to provide her with as much comfort as possible.

Still, if you don’t plan to breed your dog, we would suggest spaying your female dogs. Not only will this keep her from getting pregnant, but it can have many health benefits.