Congratulations on your new arrival! After giving birth, many dog mothers will exhibit an interesting set of behaviors that all dog owners should be aware of.
Whether this is your first or fifth dog, there’s always something new to learn about mother dog behavior after giving birth. After 63 weeks of pregnancy, will your dog’s behavior be different?
Yes, it will! After giving birth, many aspects of her behavior will change. She can no longer behave the same way she did because she has new pups to care for and most of her time will be spent caring and weaning them.
This may make you feel like your relationship with them has changed too. Though things may feel different with the behavior, after several weeks, your dog is likely to return back to its normal.
It is common knowledge that the first thing you may want to do once your dog has given birth to puppies is to spend as much time with them as is possible. However, you need to be aware that your dog’s new priority is to care for her puppies.
After giving birth, the mother dog’s behavior will be starkly different from how she was prior to them giving birth. These behavioral changes are normal and a phase that they must pass through. This guide will provide an overview of the most common post-birth behaviors exhibited by dogs, as well as tips on how to help your dog adjust to this new stage in her life.
Behavioral Changes You Should See in Your Dog After They Give Birth
1. Dogs Can Become Aggressive After Having Puppies
The aggressive behavior that your dog will display after giving birth stems from her need or instinct to protect her pups. Some of the aggressive behaviors that you might see include showing her teeth, growling, and even biting.
Usually, this behavior appears within hours of giving birth. Here, the new dog mother focuses entirely on caring for her puppies.
Some of the reasons for her aggressive behaviors may also be because she’s tired, her hormones are fluctuating, or she might still be feeling some discomfort from giving birth.
2. Dogs May Experience Increased Anxiety After Delivering Puppies
Anxious behavior is also another common mother dog behavior after giving birth.
This is especially true if it is their first-time liter. You might therefore see the dog whine and even shake if you come close to her puppies.
You would find them not wanting to move far from their puppies because they feel they should always be around to take care of the little ones. In addition, the dog mother may also tend to lick the puppies more than usual out as a response mechanism to their increased anxiety.
3. They Become More Sedentary
Once your dog gives birth, she will immediately become devoted to her offspring. It is not unusual to find them spending day and night cleaning and caring for their little ones.
This goes on for several weeks. In this period, your dog’s most focus will be directed to her puppies and will have very little interest in other things. In fact, they may not even leave their nest.
4. An Increased Sense of Restlessness
Sometimes you will find that your dog has grown increasingly restless. Most times, they would wish to be left alone in their own space. Your dog may also stop eating regularly and may occasionally vomit.
However, their appetite may resume a day or two after delivering their puppies in most cases.
5. Highly Lethargic Behavior May Become the Norm!
While your dog may not seem highly anxious, if they are extremely calm and lethargic, that should also give you a reason to worry.
The dog mother may act sluggish and distant, even to the point of neglecting her puppies. Oftentimes, this behavior might be a sign of an infection that results from delivery.
If your dog begins to display this behavior almost always, you may have to step in and take care of the puppies for your dog until they recover their normal state.
6. Urinating in the House
One common mother dog behavior after giving birth is that she might suddenly appear to forget her toilet training. This often happens between the first 24 hours to a week after delivering her puppies. The dog mother will be very reluctant to leave her puppies alone.
After 24 hours, you can take her outside away from the puppies to encourage her to pee, but she shouldn’t be separated from them for too long. After about a week, she will relax and leave the puppies for short periods.
Ways of Managing These Behavioral Changes
1. Practices to handle the aggressiveness
- Try to maintain your distance from your dog’s puppies. You should not handle the puppies more than you are required. Give your dog some space to perform her’ mom duties,’, especially during the first week.
- Keep strangers away from her whelping area. Your dog will generally be uncomfortable when anyone she doesn’t know approaches this area. If you need to show off the puppies, wait until they are approximately 6 to 8 weeks old, i.e., when they have been vaccinated.
- You should also keep other pets away from your dog and her puppies for the first few weeks after delivery. When the puppies have grown older, this behavior may reduce.
- You should also avoid startling her, making her agitated, and potentially aggressive.
2. Practices to handle anxiety
- Talking to your dog calmly in a reassuring voice is highly recommended. You are also advised to keep the activity level in the room low.
- Sometimes feeding her some high-quality canned dog food is all that she needs to settle down. A full stomach may help her relax and be less anxious.
- Gibe her occasional praises when you see her caring for her puppies by nursing or cleaning them. You can stroke her head and talk gently to her. This may help her relax, be less nervous, and settle with her puppies.
How to Care for Your Dog After They Give Birth
1. Immediately After She Gives Birth
Once your dog has given birth, they need high levels of postpartum care. This is very important for her health and well-being. Some of the best practices to use here include:
- Removing and replacing all soiled material from the whelping box with clean, soft bedding.
- Cleaning her gently with a warm and damp cloth. You should wait a few days before giving her a full bath.
- Your dog will leak fluids and tissues for up to eight weeks after she gives birth.
This discharge is called lochia and may be greenish-black, brownish, or brick red. It should be odorless. If it gets thick, grey, or pale and begins to stink, take her to the veterinarian immediately.
This may mean that she has an infection in her uterus.
2. Days and Weeks After She Gives Birth
Shortly after giving birth, strive to observe the following best practices:
- If your dog has long fur, give her a sanitary cut around her tail, hind legs, and mammary glands.
- Try feeding her several small meals throughout each day instead of one large one because they are yet to recover their normal appetite.
- Check her teats daily to watch for signs of heat, redness, swelling, inflammation, discoloration, or pain. Her milk should be white and have a normal consistency. It should not be thickening or appear pink, red, green, or yellow. If such symptoms are present, she will need urgent veterinary attention.
- Observe signs of eclampsia or milk fever. These symptoms may include restlessness, anxiety, panting, muscle tremors, elevated temperature, whining, and dilated pupils. This condition can manifest itself within the first four weeks after the puppies are born and can cause them to experience limb rigidity, convulsions, collapse, and even death in severe cases.
- Schedule your dog and her puppies for occasional checkups with your veterinarian within 24 hours of delivery. This is important in ensuring that your dog is healing as expected and that her puppies are in good condition.
- Other dogs and people should keep their distance from her and her puppies. Since she is protecting her puppies, she is entitled to be aggressive, and as long as she feels threatened, she will not let up.
- Take her out for short five to ten-minute bathroom breaks during the first few weeks after they give birth.
Final Take Away
While it is expected that your dog will undergo many physical changes after they deliver puppies, you should also know that there will be a host of accompanying behavioral changes too.
Your dog will tend to be more protective, more aggressive, more easily agitated, and even more sedentary. When these changes become too extreme, then you need to worry and seek the expertise of your veterinarian.
However, these changes should not alarm you because they are normal occurrences.
We hope this guide has enlightened you on how to understand and care for your dog as she becomes a mother.