“Can you walk a dog, when she’s in heat?” is one of the most popular questions we receive from female dog owners. To be true, in most cases, it comes from people living in a house with a yard, and rarely from those living in apartments. Wonder why?
People who do not have yard, never comes to a question: “Can I walk my dog?”. They do not wonder if they can walk her when there’s a thunderstorm, when an earthquake has begun or even when the dog is in heat.
They just have to walk her, no matter what, otherwise, her bladder will explode and the dog will die. (Okay, it’s not true, your dog most likely will hold as much as she can, and then relieve on your carpet. However, you got the point.)
You CAN walk a dog in heat, and for most owners, who do not have a yard, they MUST walk a dog. The only question is: “HOW TO walk a female dog in heat?”
As you probably came to a question, you already know, walking a dog in heat is a challenging task, and there are some things to keep in mind…
Never walk off leash when your dog is in heat
It’s actually not even, don’t walk unleashed dog when she’s in heat. You should not walk your dog off leash under any circumstances, but it’s much more necessary, when in heat.
Female dogs are extremely attractive to males when in heat, and even, if you consider her well trained to come back, the male odor is irresistible, and it’s hard to provide something better in exchange. Calling, come here, come here, may not help you.
So the leash is the must!
Think about the trail you female dog is leaving when in heat
When your dog is in heat, she is producing pheromone, that attracts male dogs. The most practical way to spread it is by urine. You’ve probably noticed, your dog is urinating a lot more when in heat, besides the other symptoms of the heat. That is done to spread her message. It’s like “tweeting” all over the place, I’m in heat, I wanna have sex.
If male dogs pick up that smell, they are reading not only the female is in heat, but where she lives, as well. You may expect large quantities of dog gang members visiting you tonight. Have a pleasant sleep. So what to do?
Break the trail! Easiest way to do it, is to put your dog in a car, and drive few blocks away, or, if possible, to some distant area, where you may walk your dog without worries. Then dogs who pick up her smell, will be able to track it just to a place, where your car was parked, no further. Problem solved.
We did an experiment with our dog during several heat cycles. When she was in the heat, we tried:
- Walking her normally. That is, going through the gate and spreading the smell as usual. Results were: Even if we did not meet any male dog on the way, we had few dogs visiting our front door each night. They were barking outside, and our dog was barking inside. Bad night for all of us.
- Not walking her during the heat, at all. Luckily, no visits from male dogs, however, it was hard to calm our dog. Even if we did play, or run with her in the yard, it was not enough to drive her thoughts away from the boys.
- Breaking the trail. That is, we put her in a car and drove about 500 m (close to 550 yards) away. It’s not far, just a few blocks, but surprisingly, it was enough. Results were the same as with not walking the dog at all. However, she was walking, enjoying it and had a lot better sleep.
We’re going to take this experiment further next time our dog will be in heat. We want to try shortening the distance we drive by a car, and see, at which point it is not enough. Will it be okay just over the street, or is 500m the shortest possible way? The time will tell, stay tuned.
Don’t go where the males are when your dog is in heat
The worst part of walking a dog in heat, is possible encountering with the male dogs. Usually, dogs do not start mating right after they meet each other. Normal behavior would be first investigating smell of each other, running along, mounting without the tie, and then the mating eventually.
Also, not every time male and female catch ups end with breeding. Dogs have some preferences, too. Just like humans do.
HOWEVER, exceptions happen! Besides that, mating is not the only concern about female in heat meeting male. In some cases, it may cause aggression between two of them. Most likely it happens when the female dog is in the first phase of the heat, or you are trying to interrupt them mating.
If you know your neighborhood, you probably know where they live, and where they wander (in a perfect world, all dogs would walk on leash, sadly, it’s not reality). Just avoid those places. If it’s not possible, drive further away, to walk on more distant surroundings, or just limit the walks extremely short, but do them as often as possible.
Great help would be from another person assisting you. He should walk few hundred meters ahead of you, and signal (there are mobile phones available even here, in eastern Europe, waving and yelling is always an option, too) if an unleaded male dog (or any dog, male or female, because it’s hard to tell from a distance) appears. Then you just turn around and walk in the opposite direction. If necessary, the other person may even try to distract the other dog by using a treat. However, this must be done with the cautions, as, even most dogs who are wandering are not threat, exceptions happen, and more often as you may think about.
If a leashed male dog appears in sight, the best choice is to keep the both in distance. It’s easier to do, when on leash. Walk on the opposite side of the street. If necessary, warn the other owner about your dog being in heat. Some dog owners, as you may have noticed, are extremely friendly, and allow their dog come closer to another, smell each other and communicate. Besides that, warning the other owner, would make you not look like a weirdo, when crossing the street right after first noticing him.
Pants and deodorizers
Okay, this part is tricky. It’s an extremely popular advice, to rub the tip of the tail of your dog with a menthol, before walking a female dog. It should help you to avoid the female dog spreading her scent.
The truth is. Menth0l does help to decrease the amount of scent, female dog produces. However, it does not suppress it entirely. Menthol, or commercial deodorizers for dogs in heat may help if a male dog appears in a distance, so he does not detect her. If he comes closer, or smells the urine left by your dog, he will undoubtedly know what’s going on.
Female dog pants or even dog diapers may also be an option to, first, lower the scent distribution, second, lower the chance of your dog getting pregnant if she meets a male dog.
However, it’s not a contraception method, and should not be considered as one. The greatest use of pants is to avoid your dog spilling blood indoors, and taking it on a walk to reduce the smell or possibility of having puppies is just a good side-effect.
Consider spaying your dog
And the last one advice. If you are not planning to use your dog for breeding, spaying your female dog should be seriously considered. Why? Because spayed female dogs DO NOT come in heat, and may be walked outdoors, together with intact male dogs, no matter what time is it.
This article is a part of series about dogs in heat.