Achieving Balance and Harmony

DOG BEHAVIOR

Heat and Aggression

When a female pitbull goes into heat, does that cause them to become aggressive even if they never were before? –Janine Gennawey

Aggression in female dogs during their heat is a common complaint. Drastic hormone changes can adversely affect a female dog’s mood and can predispose to acts of aggression even if she has never been aggressive before. These hormone changes cause irritability, nervousness and can even cause pain during ovulation. Keep in mind that instead of going into heat for a few days a month a female dog goes into heat for a few weeks twice a year which is a considerable length of time. If your dog is getting too hot to handle while in heat be sure to take the necessary precautions.

Identify the triggers that induce aggression and isolate her from these triggers while she is in heat. If she is aggressive towards other dogs, keep her away from them during her cycle. Unspayed females will sometimes compete for a male dog’s attention by fighting. If she is overprotective of her pups use extra caution when dealing with the puppies. It is common for the maternal instinct to go into overdrive during this time.

Be calm and assertive when picking up the pups and praise and comfort her when she is being good. Let her hear in your voice that you mean no harm to the pups and do not touch the pups until she is relaxed and comfortable with your presence. Do not leave children unsupervised with a dog in heat and if she displays any heat related aggression it is best to isolate the dog from children entirely.

If you have no intentions of breeding her then having her spayed will be helpful and might even eliminate the aggression entirely especially considering she has never been aggressive before. Keep in mind she may learn undesirable behaviors and continue to exhibit aggression after her heat ends if she learns that this behavior can get her what she wants. So it is best to spay her as soon as possible because while heat related aggression is usually temporary it can lead to long term problems with aggression.

Aggression is a serious problem and should not be taken lightly. Remain calm and assertive when dealing with her and please seek professional advice from your veterinarian and an animal behaviorist or certified professional dog trainer as soon as possible.

How has spaying or neutering affected your dog? Share it with us in the comments.

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