Common Behaviors Of A Female Dog In Heat

6 Common Behaviors Of A Female Dog In Heat

We’ve always heard about male-dog parents worrying about their furry sons engaging in humping behavior, chasing cars, and soiling the house. But what about female dogs? Just like human females go through puberty, heat cycles and menopause, so do our female canine friends.

Perhaps your furry princess is all grown up now. Or maybe she has started acting differently, and you’re wondering what’s going on. Could it be that your female dog is in heat?

Some of the most common behaviors of a female dog in heat are increased panting, increased urination, aggressive behavior, and reduced energy levels, among others.

In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about a female dog in heat. From the physical changes to the behavioral ones, we’ll cover it all! We have also touched on topics like:

  • What is the dog heat cycle?
  • What are the different stages?
  • How do you comfort a female dog in heat?

And more!

6 Common Behaviors Of A Female Dog In Heat

Increased Restlessness and Panting

The first and most common behavior you’ll notice in a female dog in heat is increased restlessness. Like human females, your dog’s body is going through some significant changes (mostly hormonal), and it’s bound to make her feel uncomfortable. She might pace around the house, pant a lot, or even try to escape.

This sudden behavior change can be quite alarming if your dog is normally calm and relaxed. The best thing you can do is provide her with a comfortable space where she can rest and relax. A quiet corner of the house or a crate might do the trick.

Frequently Licking Her Private Parts

Another common behavior of a female dog in heat is excessively licking her private parts. This is because her vulva is swollen, and she’s trying to soothe the irritation.

If you notice your dog licking down there more than usual, it’s probably because she’s in heat. However, if the licking is accompanied by redness, swelling, or discharge, it could indicate an infection. In that case, you should take her to the vet immediately.

Increased Urination

When your female dog comes into heat, she will most likely experience an increased frequency in urination. This is perfectly normal and is simply her body’s way of trying to attract mates. During heat season, a dog’s urine will contain high estrogen levels, which acts as a pheromone to let male dogs know that she is ready to mate.

If you notice your dog urinating more often than usual, it’s important to keep an eye on her overall health and behavior. If she seems uncomfortable or has difficulty urinating, it’s time to take her to the vet.

Increased urination can also be a sign of pregnancy, so if your dog is not spayed, this is something you’ll want to keep an eye on.

Emotional Changes

As your dog’s hormone levels fluctuate during her heat cycle, you might also notice some emotional changes. She might become more clingy or needy, or she could become aggressive, moody, or territorial.

Depending on your dog’s personality, she might become more aloof or even withdraw from you entirely. It’s important to remember that these changes are normal and will eventually pass.

Regardless of what changes she goes through, try to remain calm and patient with your pet. It’s also important to continue to provide her with plenty of love and attention during this time.

If your dog starts exhibiting unusual or troubling behaviors, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian. They’ll be able to determine if the behavior is due to her heat cycle or if there is another underlying issue.

Excessive Mounting

Did you think mounting was just a male dog behavior? Think again! Female dogs in heat will often mount other dogs, toys, pillows, or even you!

This behavior is usually motivated by a desire to mate, but it can also be a way for her to assert dominance. If your dog is mounting another dog, it’s important to keep a close eye on the situation to ensure that it doesn’t escalate into a fight.

Should you be worried about the behavior? Not really! Just be sure to provide her with plenty of toys and attention, so she doesn’t get too frustrated.

Personal Grooming

During her heat cycle, your female dog will probably spend more time than usual grooming herself. She might start acting like the feline queen of the house, meticulously licking herself clean.

This behavior is normal and is simply her body’s way of trying to keep cool. The increased grooming will also help to remove any scent that might attract unwanted male attention.

She might lick her vulva area, or she could even try to remove her own hair. While this behavior is instinctive, you might want to help her by bathing her and brushing her fur during this time.

Another way to keep your dog cool and comfortable during her heat cycle is to provide her with a doggy diaper or garment. It’ll help absorb any discharge and protect your furniture and carpets from stains.

Physical Changes Throughout The Heat Cycle

A female dog goes through four distinct stages in the heat cycle. During each phase, she’ll experience both physical and hormonal changes. Let’s take a look at each stage in more detail.


The first stage of the heat cycle is known as proestrus. This phase usually lasts 9-13 days and is characterized by a bloody discharge from the vulva. Your dog’s nipples will also become enlarged, and she might start to swell around her vulva area. Other signs during this phase include excessive licking of her genitals, aggression toward male dogs, clinginess, etc.


The second stage, estrus, is when your dog is actually fertile and can become pregnant. This phase lasts 1-2 weeks and is characterized by a clear or straw-colored discharge from the vulva. Your dog’s vulva will swell even more during this phase, and she might start to pee more frequently. She will also be more receptive to male dogs and might start to mount them or even urinate on them.


The third stage, diestrus, is when your dog is no longer fertile. At the beginning of diestrus, your dog’s vulva will return to its normal size. The bloody discharge will also begin to diminish and eventually stop altogether. Sometimes, your dog may experience a small amount of spotting for a few days. By the end of diestrus, your dog’s vulva will be completely back to normal.

The hormones released during proestrus and estrus – namely, progesterone and estrogen – will also begin to decline. This hormonal decline signals the end of your dog’s reproductive cycle.


Finally, the fourth stage, anestrus, is the rest period between heat cycles. This phase can last for several months and is characterized by a complete absence of any discharge from the vulva. Plus, there will be no signs of hormonal or behavioral changes whatsoever. You can say that your dog’s body is simply resting and preparing for the next heat cycle during the anestrus phase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Common Behaviors Of A Female Dog In Heat
  • Does a dog’s attitude change when in heat?

Yes, dogs generally experience some changes in their attitude when in heat. Both female and male dogs could react differently to the hormonal changes during the heat cycle. Some female dogs might become more aggressive, while others may become more attached to their owners.

  • How often do dogs go into heat?

Some dogs might go into heat more frequently, while others may only experience it once or twice a year. Generally, dogs go into heat about every six months.

  • How will I know if my dog is in heat?

You might notice several signs if your dog is in heat. These signs can include changes in behavior, such as increased urination or restlessness. You might also see physical changes, like swollen vulva or bloody discharge.

  • How do you comfort a female dog in heat?

One thing that may help is to provide her with a quiet, comfortable place to rest. Additionally, you might want to give her extra attention and affection to help offset any changes in behavior. However, if she has grown more distant during this season, it’s best if you give her the space she needs.

You could also give her lots of chew toys to help keep her occupied or place a doggie diaper on her to absorb any bloody discharge. Lastly, keep her away from male dogs that are not neutered, as they may try to mate with her.

  • What are the risks of a dog being in heat?

If your female dog is not spayed, she is at risk of becoming pregnant during her heat cycle. Additionally, both male and female dogs could experience health complications if they’re not careful during this time. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on your furry friend and take her to the vet for occasional check-ups.

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