If you own a female dog and she's not spayed, she will get in season about two times a year. This is also commonly referred to as a bitch in heat. The first time a bitch gets in season can sometimes be quite surprising for their owners since they might go through some behavioural changes as well.
What is a bitch's season?
The bitch's season is the only moment when she is able to get impregnated. Because of this, it's an important topic for every dog owner and breeder. Either to make sure you avoid unwanted pregnancies or to ensure mating at the right moment in time.
Unlike humans, dogs do not have a menopause. This means they will be able to get pregnant at an older age, though this is not advisable because of health issues.
What happens during a bitch's season?
The season usually lasts about 3 weeks, though this will vary from bitch to bitch. The first symptoms you might notice are swelling of the vagina and if there are any other dogs around, they'll probably get very interested in the female in heat. There will also be some blood loss, though some dogs clean themselves up and this might go by unnoticed. During this period there is only a small amount of time she is truly ready to mate. At this time she will sway her tail to her side to 'clear the way' for the male dog.
When does a bitch get in season?
Generally, a bitch will get in season the first time around the age of 9 to 11 months (though this can take longer with large dog breeds) and thereafter about every six months. This again can vary quite a bit, mostly more time in between for big breeds. Most bitches are fairly regular, so after a few cycles, you should be able to predict when she will get in heat.
When you keep multiple bitches in your pack, it often occurs that they synchronise their cycles and get in heat around the same time.
A bitch is able to get pregnant during her first cycle, but should be avoided. You should definetily wait until she has reached maturity and is fully developed before letting her get a litter.
Some bitches get more needy when on heat. They will seek out your attention more often. Also they sometimes get fatigued faster. Their body is getting ready to carry puppies and this can be taxing on their bodies.
To spread their scent, they will pee more often. This to make sure all males in the area are aware that she is getting ready to carry a litter.
Exercising a bitch in heat
Depending on the dog, they might need less exercise while they are in season because it can be already demanding on their body. You should still provide them with daily walks, but it can be preferred to take these walks when it's quiet outside.
You should also be very cautious not to let them off leash as they can run off to another dog depending on where they are in their cycle.