Our conformation trainer seems to think Hush maybe about to go into season. No matter what, her hormones are starting to change, and the boys are certainly taking notice to her. This could be why the Dalmatian went after her in class, and why another dog kept eying her and quietly growling. I’ve been keeping an eye on her girly parts, looking for any swelling and changes, and so far haven’t seen any. But, she has been displaying some skittish and uncharacteristic behaviors, which are signs that hormones are changing. Our trainer commented that the issues we are having with gaiting and movement could very well be Hush trying to guard her butt from the audience of male dogs. Another sign that she might be about to have her first heat.
I spoke with Hush’s breeder, and while a bitch CAN go into season any time after 6 months, she thinks this is most likely pre-menstrual changes, where hormones will start to shift for 1-2 months before the actual heat cycle begins. During this time, male dogs will most likely show an interest in her. She told me to keep an eye on her genitals, and if things feel sticky to just clean her with baby wipes. It is very common for a young bitch to get a mild vaginal infection before her first heat cycle, and if that is developing with Hush right now, that could be why the boys are taking an interest in her.
As far as training and showing goes, with a young dog especially, you don’t want to show them or ask them to do much training during their first heat cycle. Just like with teenage humans, there are a lot of changes happening in a bitch’s body leading up to and during her first cycle. These hormonal and physical changes often leave the bitch on edge, as she is confused about what is happening to her body.
My training club has a rule against training bitches in season, many clubs have this rule, but some allow them to train so long as they are wearing “Bitches Britches” (undies, usually with a maxi pad) to prevent any bleeding, and most importantly, prevent and unplanned mating from occurring.
I can’t help but cringe, as I look at my baby, still so much a puppy, and think about the unscrupulous breeders who breed bitches on their very first heat cycle. I see just how undeveloped Hush is, still a baby in so many ways, her body still growing and changing, and want to kill any scum who would force such a young dog to carry a litter of puppies, when she herself is still a puppy.
Hopefully, we’ve got some time before her first heat cycle is here. I don’t know if I’m quite ready, but I’ll keep a bag of Carob Chips on hand for Hush, assuming dogs have chocolate cravings, too.