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How to Calm a Male Dog When a Female Is in Heat (8 Effective Tricks)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog smells a dog in heat

Male dogs are instinctively fixated when they sense a female dog in heat. This biological process where the male dog will react to the female dog’s scent can be stressful for you and for both the male and the female dog – unless you take action.

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When a Female Dog is in Heat

A female dog can be anywhere between 6 and 24 months old when she has her first heat cycle. Smaller dogs typically go into heat earlier, and large and giant breeds might not have their first heat cycle until they are around 2 years old. Most female dogs go into heat about every 6 months (usually twice a year), and it can last about 4 weeks.

Some of the signs that a female dog is in heat are:

  • Swollen genitals
  • Bloody discharge
  • Excessive licking and grooming of the genitals
  • Responsive to male dogs
  • Frequent urination
  • Holding her tail close to her body and raising her hindquarters
  • Aggressive, agitated, and easily distracted

If your dog is in heat, it’s best to keep her away from dog parks and never leave her alone outside or take her off-leash. She might attempt to run away, so you should also ensure her microchip and dog tags are updated.

hybrid dog
Image Credit: ulleo, Pixabay

How a Male Dog Acts When a Female Dog is in Heat

Male dogs are driven by their biological urges when they are able to sense a female dog is in heat. Some of the behaviors that male dogs will exhibit when they are around a female in heat are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Less interested in sleep
  • An increase in marking their territory
  • Escalated aggression around other male dogs
  • Anxious and agitated
  • Howling and whining excessively
  • Appears to be very distracted
  • Attempts to escape the backyard and the leash

Male dogs will be obsessed with pursuing the female dog throughout her heat cycle. If you suspect a female dog in your neighborhood is in heat, your best bet is to keep your boy indoors as much as possible, except for walks, with the windows closed. Never leave him unsupervised while outside in your backyard. No matter how tall your fence is, he will find a way to reach her.

When You Have Both Dogs Living Under the Same Roof

When your female dog in heat is living in the same house as an unneutered male dog, you have yourself a worst-case scenario.

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Here Are 8 Tips and Tricks to Help You Cope:

1. Separate the dogs into different rooms.

If your house is large enough, you should keep them in separate rooms as far away from each other as possible. Male dogs can usually scent a female dog in heat up to 3 miles away! It will be even more effective if you can keep them in rooms on different floors or opposite sides of the house.

2. Keep one indoors and the other outdoors.

When keeping them separate inside your home isn’t possible, you can separate them by putting the male outside and keep the female inside the house. It’s essential to keep the female indoors as you don’t want every male dog in the neighborhood trying to visit your female while she’s in the backyard.

Ensure your male dog is in a fully enclosed yard and don’t leave him alone for long periods of time. Also, remember to close the windows of your house while your female is inside.

3. Board the male at a kennel.

If the first two tips are not an option, you could consider boarding your male dog at a kennel during your female’s heat cycle. Or ask your friends or family to take care of your dog at this time. This is a much cheaper and more comfortable alternative for your male dog.

4. Diaper the female. 

Okay, so this tip might sound ridiculous, but if you put a diaper on your female dog, it will prevent her from spreading her scent and discharge around. It will also provide a physical barrier that will undoubtedly make access to her more difficult for the male dog. There are disposable diapers such as this one for small dogs, and reusable diapers like this one for large dogs.

dog with diaper
Image Credit: Zmaj88, Shutterstock

5. Tire them out.

Make sure you exercise both of your dogs separately. This will help to distract them and tire them out. Occupying them with lots of exercise and playtime will also help keep them calm and expend some of their more aggressive energy. Try to avoid taking your female dog for long walks and make sure she gets her exercise in an enclosed space where you can keep her under close supervision.

6. Hide her scent.

Give your female dog more frequent baths than usual and use a good odor control dog shampoo.

Some dog owners state that adding liquid chlorophyll to your female dog’s water can help reduce her scent. It will also make her breath fresher and give her healthier teeth and gums.

There are dog owners that believe that dabbing a tiny amount of Vicks VapoRub at the base of your female dog’s tail or under your male dog’s nose helps to mask her scent a little. If you decide to give this a try, be sure to only put on the smallest amount and distract your dog immediately after the application so they don’t lick it off. Also, be sure to avoid applying it to your female dog’s genitals. This would prove very uncomfortable for her.

7. Clean, clean, clean.

You should be keeping your house as clean as possible in the areas where your female dog has been. If she isn’t wearing a diaper, she’ll be leaving discharge around the house, and using bleach or vinegar can help mask her odor as well as clean up any mess. Be sure to launder any bedding or fabrics that she’s come into contact with.

8. Surgery for your dogs.

Dog in Vet Clinic
Image By: 12019, Pixabay

The last and most permanent solution is to have your female dog spayed and your male dog neutered. If you plan to use your female for breeding, just neutering your male dog will help as he will start to lose interest when she goes through her heat cycle.

One of the advantages of these surgeries is it can help prolong your dog’s life. It helps prevent serious health issues in the future and can lessen aggressive behavior and the tendency for your dog to run away. Your dogs will also be much less stressed out, not to mention less stress for yourself.

It’s advisable to have your female dog spayed before she has her first heat cycle, but it is generally best to spay or neuter your dog by six months of age.

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If you choose to spay or neuter your dog, these tips and tricks won’t be necessary, and life would definitely be much easier for everyone. Your dog’s comfort and happiness are essential, and we hope that some of these ideas will prove helpful.

Featured Image Credit: sanjagrujic, Shutterstock

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