Common Behaviors of A Female Dog in Heat: Guide To Know When Your Dog Is in Heat


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Heat is the term used to describe the reproductive cycle of female dogs. During the heat period, dogs experience a significant change in their behavior and they may be more affectionate than usual and demand intense attention. Female dogs exhibit a range of common behaviors during heat and it will be discussed in this article.

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  1. Swollen Vulva: The most obvious sign of a female dog’s heat cycle is her vulva will swell up and become more noticeable and enlarged a few days prior to the onset of her heat cycle.
  2. Increase in Urination: Female dogs in heat will begin to urinate more often in order to attract male dogs.
  3. Spotting: You may notice spotting around your dog’s hindquarters or rear legs when she is near the end of her heat cycle.
  4. Flagging: Flagging is a behavior in which a female dog will raise her tail to one side and make circular motions with it so that male dogs can see her.
  5. Aggression: During her heat cycle, a female dog may become more easily agitated and may act aggressively toward other animals and people.
  6. Showing Affection: Female dogs may also become more affectionate during their heat cycle and may try to show attention and affection to humans or other animals.
  7. Change in Appetite: A female dog may experience a decrease in appetite or eating habits during her heat cycle.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Is in Heat?

When a female dog is in heat, it means that she is in a period of estrus, when she is sexually receptive and likely to become pregnant. During this time she may display signs of restlessness, increased vocalization and appetite, swollen vulva, and clear or bloody discharge from her vulva.

When Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

The age at which a female dog reaches her first heat cycle can vary greatly. In general, small breeds tend to have their first cycle at an earlier age than larger breeds, with some as young as 5-6 months and some as old as 18-24 months. On average, dogs tend to have their first heat cycle between 6-18 months.

How Often Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

Most female dogs will go into heat twice a year, and they can stay in heat for about three weeks. Breeds that come from colder climates, such as Huskies, tend to cycle every six months.

Do Male Dogs Go Into Heat?

No, male dogs do not go into heat.

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A female dog in heat will generally display a variety of behaviors. She may become more affectionate, may try to mount and hump other dogs, and may urinate more frequently, with the scent of her urine becoming more potent. She may also try to escape her enclosure or become restless if confined. In general, she will have an increase in energy and will be on the lookout for a mate.

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When Should I Expect My Dog’s First Heat?

Most female dogs experience their first heat between 6 and 18 months of age, although some females may go into their first heat as early as 4 months or as late as 18 months.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is In Heat For The First Time

How to tell if your dog is in heat for the first time can be difficult to determine. Here are some common signs that can indicate that your dog is in heat:

  • Swelling of the Vulva: This is the most obvious sign and usually happens within a few weeks of a female dog coming into heat.
  • Increased Urination: During heat, female dogs will often urinate more than usual.
  • Bloody Discharge: This is an obvious indicator of a female dog being in heat.
  • Change in Behavior: When a female dog is in heat, she may become more clingy and attentive than usual. She may also become more vocal.
  • Increased Appetite: A dog in heat might be hungrier than usual.
  • Prolonged Bleeding: Female dogs typically bleed for about 9 days when in heat. If this lasts longer than 12 days, it could be a sign of a medical issue and should be checked out by a veterinarian.

Is A Dog First Heat Shorter?

Typically, yes, a dog’s first heat is generally shorter than subsequent heats. The average length of a dog’s first heat is around 18 days, whilst later heats normally last for approximately 21 days. However, individual dogs may differ significantly in the length of their heats.

Female Dog In Heat Behavior Crying

A female dog in heat may display a range of behaviors, including crying or whining, restlessness, seeking attention, marking the house, and squatting as if to urinate. All of these behaviors are normal instinctual indications that a female dog is in heat and should be left alone. Providing a safe, comfortable space and additional attention may help to reduce stress and anxiety.

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  1. Proestrus: This is the beginning of the heat cycle, when your dog may seem to become suddenly clingy, exhibit raised levels of energy, or become moody. Hormonal changes cause her to begin releasing eggs and produce bloody vaginal discharge. This usually lasts around 9 days.
  2. Estrus: This is the fertile phase during which the female’s eggs are available to be fertilized. The vaginal discharge begins to clear up and she may flag her tail, drag her hindquarters on the floor, and solicit male attention. This stage typically lasts 4 to 8 days.
  3. Diestrus: This is the stage during which pregnancy usually takes place. It begins after mating has occurred and can last up to 63 days if pregnancy occurred. If no pregnancy occurs, this stage will last about 4 weeks.
  4. Anestrus: This is the period between heats when the hormones have returned to normal levels. This is when the uterus has shed the tissue lining it during estrus and prepares for the next heat cycle. This period typically lasts four to eight months.
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How Long Does A Dog Stay in Heat?

The length of time a female dog is in heat can vary from dog to dog and breed to breed. Generally, a female dog will remain in heat for an average of two to three weeks, although some dogs may only be in heat for as short as five days, while others may be in heat for up to three weeks or even four weeks in some cases.

How To Comfort A Dog in Heat

  • Keep your dog cool by providing space indoors that is well-ventilated and kept at a comfortable temperature.
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of water and watch for signs of dehydration.
  • Provide comfortable resting areas with plenty of pillows and blankets.
  • Give extra attention and cuddle time to ensure your pup feels loved and comforted.
  • Take your dog on a few walk a day to give them some exercise and fresh air.

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If your dog is in heat for the first time, it’s important to know what to expect and how to best take care of her during this time.

  1. Keep an Eye on Her: During the first heat cycle, it’s important to keep an eye on your dog to observe any changes in behavior and health that could indicate a problem.
  2. Be Aware of Her Body: It’s normal for your dog to experience vaginal discharge during her heat cycle, but if the discharge appears blood-tinged or has an unusual smell, contact your veterinarian.
  3. Spay Your Dog When She is Older: It’s recommended to wait until your dog is older before spaying her, as young dogs are more likely to have medical complications following the procedure.
  4. Keep Her Away From Unneutered Male Dogs: While your dog is in heat, it’s important to keep her away from unneutered male dogs. This is to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
  5. Monitor for Signs of Heat Stress: During her heat cycle, your dog may become panting and tired. Monitor her for signs of heat stress, such as excessive panting and increased heart rate.
  6. Offer Additional Water: Provide additional water for your dog during her heat cycle to help keep her hydrated and healthy.

By following these steps, you can help make sure your dog stays healthy and comfortable throughout her heat cycle. Remember to always contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns regarding your dog’s health.

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Home Remedies For Dogs in Heat

  • Freeze a Soft Blanket: Put a soft blanket in the freezer for a few minutes, then let your dog lie on it. The cool temperature can help ease the discomfort caused by heat.
  • Have Home Haircuts: Grooming your pup can help keep their fur from becoming matted and uncomfortable.
  • Create a Safe, Cool Space: Make sure your dog has access to an air-conditioned area, or consider investing in a cooling bed or water pool.
  • Offer Plenty of Water: Make sure your pup is well hydrated. She also may enjoy some ice chips or adding a few drops of broth to their water bowl.
  • Provide Stress-Reducing Activities: Keep your pup occupied and distracted with puzzles, games, or interactive toys.

When to See a Vet When Your Dog is In Heat

If you notice any abnormal symptoms in your female dog during her heat, it’s best to seek veterinary care. Symptoms such as restlessness, increased urination, excessive licking, or any signs of discomfort should be evaluated right away. Also, you should consult a veterinarian if you are considering breeding your dog as she will need to be screened and examined before mating.


Q. How do dogs know when a female dog is in heat?

A. Dogs can tell when a female dog is in heat by the scent she gives off, and by the behaviors she exhibits as well. Male dogs may start to show more interest in the female, follow her around more, or attempt to mount her.

Q. How do female dogs act during the first heat?

A. During the first heat, some dogs may seem slightly restless as their hormones change and may be more vocal than usual. They may also experience swelling of the vulva and have blood-tinged discharge. Other signs can include urinating more often, lifting their behinds into the air, becoming clingy with their owners, and displaying behavior such as mounting and humping.

Q. Do female dogs act differently when in heat?

A. Yes, female dogs in heat can act differently. They may appear more affectionate, display more territorial behavior, have increased sexual solicitation behaviors, or seek attention more than usual.


In conclusion, a female dog in heat will display certain behaviors to signal their status. These behaviors, which include a noticeable increase in energy levels and desire for male attention, and being more vocal, are easy to recognize once you understand them. You should also take note of any physical changes, such as an enlarged vulva and a bloody discharge, with the latter being an indicator that the period of heat has started. It is important to pay attention to these signs so that you can offer your pup the necessary care and attention during her period of heat.


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