Exercising dogs in season can be challenging if you want to avoid mating attempts by roaming male dogs.
However, there are other issues that you will have to take into consideration, such as your dog in heat will be feeling out of sorts and hormonal, so it’s essential to keep her distracted and happy. Playing games with her or keeping her occupied, perhaps with a treat stuffed toy, are just some of the things you can do to keep her calm.
She will still also need exercise, but the good news is there are ways to tire out your dog at home so that you can limit dog walking to maybe once a day, perhaps late evening. With a dog in heat, you should keep them on a lead and walk around quieter areas where no loose dogs are running about
This article will look at how to exercise your dog in season, the limitations and dangers of walking a dog when she is in heat and other ways to keep her activity levels up and release pent up energy.
What Does it Mean When Your Dog is in Heat?
A female dog comes into season when she is fertile and during this time, she can become pregnant. Chances are your dog will behave differently; she may be unsettled, have lower or higher energy levels and at some point in the middle of the 2-4 week period become highly interested in male dogs; she will also bleed from her vulva.
Most dogs have their first season when they are around six months old, but this can vary, with some not becoming fertile until they reach about two and a half years.
Unlike humans who go through menopause, female dogs continue to come into heat all through their lives unless they are spayed, which will mean the cycle stops and they can no longer become pregnant.
If you do not intend to breed your dog, it is always better to get her spayed. Not only will it prevent unwanted puppies, but it can also help prevent certain health conditions too, like mammary cancer and Pyometra, an infection of the womb that can affect unspayed female dogs and may even be fatal. Spayed female dogs are much less likely to suffer from these.
How Often Will Your Dog be in Season?
Depending on the breed of dog you own, you can expect your pooch to cycle twice a year, although if you have a Basenji, they only come into heat once a year and some larger breeds have bigger gaps between their oestrus cycle as well.
Is It Safe For Female Dog to Exercise when in Season?
Yes, it’s perfectly safe to exercise your dog when it is in season, although many dog owners prefer not to take their dogs for long walks where there are intact male dogs. Even a trained dog can become distracted by the scent of an unspayed female, so the best solution is to do some activities at home to reduce the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.
Below are some suggestions for pet owners when walking a female dog in heat.
Tips for Dog Owners – Exercising Dogs in Heat
Avoid male dogs
This may seem pretty obvious, but it can be tricky to avoid males in busy parks, so try to take routes where dog walkers frequent and other dogs are unlikely to be running around off-leash. Even if you are somewhere remote or on a deserted beach, the scent a female gives off during her heat cycle attracts male dogs from miles away.
Keep her on a leash
This is the most important rule when walking a dog in season. You should NEVER let her off the leash. Training goes out of the window when it comes to mating and she will not return if she is interested in a male. Even if she is not receptive, she could be chased by other dogs into the road or cause a danger to other dog owners as they try to control their dog.
Don’t leave a trail
As we’ve mentioned, the pheromones a dog gives off when in season are irresistible and a male dog will happily track you back to your front door in search of a female dog in heat. The best way to avoid this is to break the trail, don’t walk straight from the house, travel a few miles in the car if you can, to prevent leaving a trail that will lead back to your home.
Take her out when other dogs are not around.
Both you and your pet will be safer if you go for walks when few dogs are around; this could mean going out at 1.00 am in the morning, not the best time to walk your dog, we know, but worth it if it prevents unwanted attention. If you do come across other dogs, you should cross to the opposite side of the street.
What about sprays?
There are sprays you can buy online that mask the scent of your dog when she’s in heat; however, they have mixed reviews, a male dog in the distance may not pick up the scent, but ones that get close enough will definitely know that she is! So it would be a risk to depend on them entirely when walking your dog.
How to Exercise a Dog in Season at Home
This is a fantastic alternative to walking when your dog is in heat. Agility provides both mental and physical stimulation and is a fun way for your dog to get some extra exercise. You can buy equipment cheaply online, perhaps a few jumps or some weaving poles, which you can use either indoors or in your back yard and for the more creative pet owner, we have an article on how to build your own agility course.
If you have a female dog in heat, it’s good to focus her attention on other things. You can start clicker training at any age, not just with a puppy and it’s a fantastic mental workout. It’s a great way to have fun with your pet and strengthens the bond and trust between you and a few minutes a day is all you need. Just use a treat or their favourite toy as a reward and your pup will understand more basic commands and be able to add a few tricks to their repertoire.
During the weeks your dog is in season, she may feel a bit off colour and not want as much physical exercise. Investing in a few puzzle games is an excellent brain workout and as mental stimulation tires a dog out almost as much as walking, this is an excellent alternative for a walk and keeps your girl safely away from other dogs.
Cavaletti poles are becoming increasingly popular with dog owners, especially for older dogs. If you have a dog in heat, these exercises can be done safely indoors and will improve your pet’s balance and coordination and strengthen joints. All you need is a few plastic or wooden poles, which can be arranged in patterns on the ground or slightly raised. You can find a few Cavaletti exercises to try in this article.
Play fetch in the garden
Playing with your dogs at home is an excellent way to let off steam, so while your pup is in heat, spend a few minutes a couple of times a day throwing a ball or frisbee in the garden for them to catch. Of course, as we’ve mentioned even males a distance away can detect the scent your female gives off, so never leave her unattended.
How do I know when my dog has finished her season?
When your pooch has come out of season, you will notice the vulva has returned to normal size and any discharge or bleeding has stopped.
Can a dog get pregnant in her first season?
Yes, they can, so it’s crucial for you as the owner only walk your dog in quiet areas; never let her out off lead and break the trail by travelling by car to the park if you can.
Do dogs bleed the whole time they are in season?
It depends on the dog; some have minimal blood spotting while others bleed heavily throughout.
If you decide not to have your dog spayed, she will come into season twice a year and she will attract the attention of every male dog within smelling distance. This can be not only embarrassing on walks but can also be potentially dangerous.
Can you walk a dog in season? Yes, as long as you have complete control. It’s a good idea to walk your dog when you are sure there are no other animals around and always keep her on a lead. If you walk a dog in season and the worst should happen, you can get the morning after pill from your vet.
The good news is: there are plenty of other ways to exercise your dog in the house apart from walks, such as agility and playing games which will give your dog’s brain a good workout too for the weeks she is in heat.