Proud to be a- kitchen wolf!!!
|Barked: Tue Feb 27, '07 1:44pm PST |
|It seems there have been a LOT of posts here on Dogster lately regarding accidental breedings. I thought maybe a thread regarding how to deal with having un-fixed dogs might help out so that people can avoid the hard choices that come with accidental breedings.
There are a lot of reasons why people see a female dog through at least one heat. Some of these reasons have a valid base health-wise, some are just plain irresponsible. It seems there has been a resurgence of people who are deciding to let their females reach maturity before spaying, some on the advice of their vet. Some people agree that this is good, some think it's bad, and some are in-between on the issue. There are health issues to consider with both.
If you have decided to wait (or not spay at all) for whatever reason, you're going to have to deal with your female "coming into season". To deal with this in a responsible manner, you need to know what is going on in your dog's body, and what this means to other dogs -- especially in-tact males. I'm not going to write my own account of all this given that there are plenty of books and websites that detail this info. The first step in ensuring that you do not have an accidental breeding is DO NOT WAIT to read-up on the subject. Don't wait until you notice your girl showing signs of coming into heat. By then it may be much harder to make sure nothing happens. Arm yourself with knowledge well before you have to start worrying about it. By knowing what's going in in her body, you might pick up on the more subtle signs of a heat coming on than noticing blood one day. There are many sites that discuss this in varying amounts of scientific terminology. A good webpage that falls in the middle is at http://ledeckgsd.com/articles/bitches-heat.htm.
So, assuming you've prepared yourself with some book-smarts, what about dealing with the logistics of keeping your in-heat female from being bred? It's obviously going to depend on your dog, how many dogs you have, and your living situation what you actually need to worry about. The constant, though, is in-tact males. You have to keep any un-neutered males away from your female. This is oftentimes easier said than done.
If you happen to own an in-tact male, your job is MUCH more difficult than if you only have dogs that can't breed with each other. There is only one sure-fire way to make sure your pets don't breed with each other, and that's to spay and neuter them. It seems that most of the accidental breedings that get brought up here on Dogster involve a household of at least two dogs who still have the "necessary equipment" involved in creating puppies. There are many myths that people have regarding these types of situations. It is important to understand that many of these are MYTHS and not being informed will likely end in an accidental breeding. The ones I can think of now (others help me out!) include:
-- Thinking one or both of the dogs is too young to breed
-- Thinking that because the dogs are related (literally or figuratively) that they won't mate
-- Thinking that because the male isn't showing much or any interest at all at one stage of the heat that nothing will happen later
-- Thinking that the blood is a sign of the heat being over
-- Thinking the end of the bleeding stage means that the heat is over (this is a BIG one!)
-- Thinking that if a "tie" doesn't hold for a certain amount of time that a mating hasn't taken place
-- Thinking that the female not allowing the male to mount means that she's not interested at all and you don't have to worry
If you have an female in heat and an in-tact male dog, they will require around-the-clock supervision OR completely reliable sequestering. It is important to understand that dogs will do ANYTHING to get the chance to mate. Otherwise "good" dogs are not able to go against what is one of the strongest urges in nature -- continuing family lines and ensuring it's YOUR genetic material that's passed on. The dogs need to be separated into spaces where they have NO contact with each other if you are not there to supervise. Supervision in this case means being able to actually SEE the dogs. It only takes minutes for dogs to get "stuck". Once a tie has been formed YOU CANNOT PULL THEM APART. You could cause severe damage and bleeding trying to separate them after a tie has taken place. Dogs have DIED because of people doing this. If your dogs tie, consider a breeding to have taken place.
Dogs have been known to chew thru walls, jump out of windows (even second-story ones if not higher -- I have personal experience with this one), mate thru fences, and go to other seemingly insane lengths to breed. Keeping one dog in a kennel and the other running loose is NOT ENOUGH to ensure a mating doesn't happen. Dogs will break out of kennels -- or break each other out of kennels -- if given the opportunity. It may not be pretty having the dogs separated, but you gotta do it. Males may cry and whine ALL NIGHT and ALL DAY. They will hurt themselves trying to get to a female. I'm willing to bet that a number of "accidental" breedings happen when owners think, "ALL RIGHT! I can't take it anymore! I'll just let him out for a minute and keep an eye on them...."
What if you only have the female dog? You still need to be very careful. You have to assume that there are in-tact male dogs loose at all times, even if you know your neighbors are responsible dog owners or have never noticed any male dogs around before. A female's scent can be smelled by dogs up to MILES away, and they will do what they can to come visit. If a neighbor's dog jumps over or digs under an up-to-now reliable fence, it is ultimately your problem, despite "who's fault" it really is. During your female's heat do not let her outside unsupervised even if your yard is securely fenced. Do not leave her in a crate in a yard. Do not leave her tied up in your yard. Remember that it's not just her you have to worry about. If you assume at all times that there might be a male around, remember a mating can happen in a very short time, and know that even formerly secure areas are not necessarily enough to keep your female from being bred, and act on those assumptions, she SHOULD be relatively safe.
Of course she will need to get out for exercise during her heat. While it's not necessary to keep her confined to your house or yard during this time, you will want to be safe about your activities during her heat. Public dog parks and off leash areas will be off-limits to you at this time. Even if a park is empty and you figure it's OK to let her have a romp around, what happens when someone shows up with their male? Even if you're fairly certain you can prevent a breeding, you can't be certain that fights don't break out either involving your dog or other dogs. It's best to restrict time in public to leash-walks only. Even the most obedient females with the best recalls will disobey the "COME" command when they're in heat, especially if it means doing anything that can help the cause of passing on her genes. This may mean wandering off extra far to mark or search for scent clues left by males, searching out viable "daddies" on her own, the chance to say "hello" to another dog, or disobeying the "COME" command from a distance to get the chance to mate with a dog that just showed up before you can make it over there to break it up. Dog owners of sexually aware males will appreciate you staying out of dog parks so that their dog won't get obsessed with the signs she's leaving them. Even leash walks aren't totally safe. If there's an unsupervised male in the viscinity (perhaps he broke out of his yard to come calling on you), he may not listen to or respect your human authority over what he views only as a prospective mom of his pups at the end of a leash. Keep your eye out on walks and make sure you can get to relative safety before any males get too close for comfort. This is not the time to let her do "meet and greets" with other dogs you may run into on leash -- male or female, fixed or not. If the other dog owner makes a move to come over to you, reign in your dog and just say something like, "I'm sorry, she's in heat. Not the best time for her to say hello."
So, to sum up:
-- Learn about the canine reproductive process BEFORE your female goes into heat.
-- Keep your female WELL AWAY from intact males AT ALL TIMES during her heat.
-- To be on the safe side, go about all activities assuming there is an intact male loose in the area.
-- If there is a slip-up and you catch your female "tied" with a male DO NOT try to separate them. Assume a breeding has taken place and see a vet immediately.
-- If you dont' think that you can do any one of the things mentioned above, have your female spayed. If you are waiting for her to reach maturity for perceived health reasons, remember it's a lot safer and healthier for her to be spayed before her first heat than to experience a spay termination or unplanned pregnancy.
I hope this at least sparked some interest or concerns for those with unfixed females. Let's prevent those accidental breedings BEFORE they happen!!!
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