Can You Walk a Dog In Heat: What You Need To Know


Walking a female dog while she is in season can often be a confusing time, especially for new owners. A dog in heat can attract unwanted attention and some other dog owners may not approve. But what is the consensus when walking a dog in heat, can you walk a dog in heat and should you do it?

The fundamental answer to this question is yes, you can walk your dog in heat. There are no laws dictating that you cannot walk a dog in heat and so it comes down to etiquette. When walking a female dog in heat you should ensure you always use a lead and stay away from areas that could be crowded with other dogs. Male dogs can act uncharacteristically when they smell a dog in heat which could cause more problems than its worth.

As all dogs need exercise and not everyone has access to a private outdoor space, walking your dog is something you are going to have to do. In this article, we cover some of the rules and etiquettes surrounding walking a dog in heat and hopefully give some clear advice to make your next walk a more confident one.

Can You Walk a Dog In Season

Walking a dog in heat can offer up many questions for any owner. Different countries will have different views on walking a dog in heat and so based around my own knowledge of dog walking in the UK, here are some questions you may be asking yourself.

Is It Legal

There are no specific laws stating that dogs cannot be walked in season. However, you must consider the consequences of walking a dog in season even if they are on a lead. Male dogs can have a huge change of character if they sense a female dog in season and so may behave aggressively. According to the official government website, it is against the law to have a dog out of control in any circumstances and so you may inadvertently cause another owner to break the law by taking your dog out in season to public places. Of course, you still need to walk your dog regardless of attracting other animals, and this is why there is no law against walking your dog in season. It’s important to understand this information as it will enable you to make a more informed decision on how best to walk your dog.

Is It Safe

As discussed above the law is clear about having an out of control dog, aligning itself with best safety practices. Because male dogs can become more assertive or even aggressive, walking your dog where other dogs may be present should be avoided where possible. Keeping your dog on a lead does not mean that other owners will do the same, etiquette would dictate that oncoming dog owners should put their dog on a lead if they see another dog on a lead as highlighted in our article “Helpful Tips For Dog walking Etiquette”. This I not always the case and so avoiding common dog walking areas is in the best interest of your own safety and your dogs.

Should You Walk Your Dog

The answer to this is YES! Many dog owners will have you believe that keeping your dog inside entirely during their season is the best way to go. This is not true, as in some cases a dog’s season can last 4 weeks, so keeping your dogs inside will do more harm than good. Even if you have a backyard, I would still encourage you to take your dog out as the mental stimulation they get from ever-changing environments is important to their growth and overall character.

dog on lead

Where To Walk a Dog In Season

Now we have a basic understanding of the circumstances that could arise due to taking a dog in heat, out for a walk, an informed decision can be made. Where you take your dog will entirely depend on where you live. In quiet rural areas, you may find it easier to avoid other people and for those that live in more built-up areas, public parks may be crowded with a high chance of seeing other dogs.

If at all possible you should walk your dog in an area that is not commonly used by dog walkers. Large expansive areas such as woodland can be ideal for avoiding other owners and their dogs. In the UK the National Trust and Woodland Trust have many locations that are not that well known to people. It’s often the case that the most popular locations get overcrowded and some of the smaller but still massive woodland areas get un-noticed. To start exploring locations to walk your dog, click on the links above to go to the search page for both the national trust and the woodland trust.

If accessing areas like woodland or countryside is not possible for you I would recommend concentrating on the timing of your walks. It would be best to choose a time which you think it’s quiet and walk the route on your own to see if you meet many other dogs. Do this a few times to establish whether it’s commonly quite. Remember that dog owners are creatures of habit and if they take their dog for a walk in the evening they will most likely do it at the same time every evening. People love a schedule whether its a walk before dinner, after dinner, when you get in from work or just before bed, you will usually see the same people every time.

When Is It Safe To Walk a Dog After Season

For walking your dog off lead you should wait at least 30 days after your dog’s season starts, whilst being aware of any bleeding happening after 30 days. You can still walk your dog safely on a lead, providing you have complete control and avoid other dogs and their owners where possible. Safety will mainly be dictated by the owner and it is their responsibility to ensure the safety of others. Female dogs can behave irrationally and much of the time in a defensive manner so keeping them on a lead is non-negotiable. It may be a good idea to be more alert after your dog’s season has finished, just to ensure she is not behaving defensively still, hormones can still be present and so this could cause unusual behavior.

What To Do When Your Dog Is In Heat

Providing you have listened to the information in this article you should be more aware of what to do when your dog is in heat. Here is a list of the key points to this article.

  • Keep your dog on a lead at all times
  • Be more alert to oncoming dogs and their owners
  • Assessing whether other owners can control their dog will tell you if there is a reason to exit the area.
  • Walk your dog during less crowded times
  • Assess your walking route by yourself to establish if it is crowded
  • Choose to walk your dog in more rural locations such as woodland
  • Avoid popular areas where many dog walkers could be.
  • Use a reputable scent repellent to disguise your dogs odor.

How Do I Know When My Dog Is Out Of Heat

Telling when your dog has finished her season can sometimes be difficult and with all dogs having different lengths of season timing is important. According to the American Kennel Club, a dog’s season will usually last from 2 – 4 weeks and you should know when your dog’s season is ending as their vulva will reduce to normal size. It’s important to be sure when your dog is no longer in heat so that you can go about walking her normally and socializing with other dogs.

How To Calm a Dog In Heat

When your dog is in heat you may find that they act very differently than normal and this goes for all female dogs. Because of your dog’s hormones being unbalanced during their cycle, their emotions will most likely cause them great discomfort mentally. Keeping your pooch calm will be your number one priority during their cycle and walking them will be something that helps you do this.

All dogs love a walk and so keeping your dog calm during their cycle can be done with regular walks involving extra mental stimulation. Smells are something that gives dogs lots of mental stimulation so encouraging a good sniff during a walk will help calm them down. For more information on why dogs like a good sniff during a walk check out our article on “Why Does My Dog Smell Everything During a Walk” and for some of a dog’s favorite smells “13 Smells Dogs Cant Resist”

Giving your dog lots of attention during her cycle can be beneficial to calm her down. Your dog will feel many emotions during their season and playing, walking and cuddling will make them feel more relaxed. Remember that in many cases you are your dog’s safe haven, something that is consistent and protective, as the pack leader you are protecting the pack from harm. Whilst a good cuddle will comfort your pooch she will still need somewhere to relax. Making your home a calm environment is vital to keeping her from acting differently, this may involve quite comfortable places to sleep and relax, or simply stopping the kids from being loud and disturbing…..difficult I know.

Are Dogs In Heat More Lethargic

As the owner of a female dog, you may find that your pooch becomes more lethargic and tired when they are in heat. This is completely natural and is part of your dog’s management of the hormones that are currently unbalanced. Walking is of course an important aspect of your dog’s life and something you should strive to do even when they are in heat. You should also respect your dog’s mood when considering taking them for a walk, if they don’t look like they are up for it then don’t worry, a stroll around the garden will suffice. You may find you take your dog for fewer walks anyway during their season as they are not as energetic, it may even be possible to reduce the length of their walk to adjust to them being more lethargic. The best solution for a lethargic dog in heat is a full belly, comfy bed, and plenty of cuddles.

sleeping dog

How To Mask Dog In Heat Scent

There will always be the possibility of running into a male dog on his walk and ensuring that you pre-empt the meeting by stepping out of the way or keeping your dog on a short lead close to your opposite side is something you should always be ready for. There is another option if you want to avoid attracting dogs both during walks and in the vicinity of your house. During her season your dog will give off a scent that attracts male dogs, and as dogs have an incredible sense of smell it is often hard to avoid them.

Although you won’t be able to completely mask the smell, by doing so you reduce the chance of having lots of male dogs traveling to your house. Here are some different ways you can help reduce the scent your dog gives off whilst in heat.

  1. Use doggy diapers to both prevent blood on your floors and to cover the smells given off by your dog
  2. Try a strong menthol spray on their tail, this will help mask the scent. It’s important not to apply near their head as the scent will be a strong smell for your dog.
  3. Wash your dog more often during this time. Use a strong-smelling dog shampoo, although natural dog shampoo is best.
  4. Keep your floors well mopped and hovered. This can reduce the smell your dog produces building up in your carpets. Remember just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean other dogs cant.
  5. Rinse away your dog’s urine. When they go to the toilet quickly rinse the area with cold water and something that has a strong smell but won’t harm your grass. Do not use bleach as some other resources suggest, this will kill your grass and damage the environment.
  6. Spraying your home with a fresh scent can help reduce the smells your dog gives off and may stop dogs from being attracted.

It’s important to remember that a dog’s sense of smell is much greater than ours and the possibility of masking the scent completely is low. However, if you can reduce the strength of smell your dog gives off other dogs may think your dog is much further away than they actually are and decide not to pursue them.

A Female Dog In Heat Behavior

Understanding your dog during this time will make walking her much more enjoyable and a happy dog means a happy owner. The behavior of your dog will change during this time and there will be some things you should try to remember, so you cannot only identify when your dog is going into season but also manage them during this time.

  1. Some dogs will become much lazier whilst in heat and a lethargic attitude is common for female dogs during this time. Try to set up a comfortable quiet area for them to relax as tiredness is something you will have to get used to during this time.
  2. It’s not only male dogs that will go to extreme lengths to mate. Your dog may also experience that urge to mate and running off can often be a problem. Make sure your home is secure and you take them out on lead as you don’t want to end up with a missing dog. For extra peace of mind, you can get trackers that attach to your dog’s collar, which allows you to track them through GPS, this is always a good idea regardless of whether they are in heat or not.
  3. Aggression is something you may not associate with your dog’s and it may surprise you when they lash out at other dogs or even people. Because of the change in hormones your dog will be feeling extremely vulnerable and come across as aggressive when protecting themselves. It’s important to give your dog space when they need it, it’s a careful balance between cuddles and space, entirely dependent on your dog’s personality.
  4. Increased urination can be something that worries owners, but during a dog’s season, urinating is common practice for dogs. It’s a good idea to let them out often and supervise them to ensure they either don’t run away or other dogs are not in the vicinity.

Below is a great instructional video on the heat cycle, how it works, and what to expect.

Conclusion

Dealing with a dog in heat can often be a confusing time and how to go about walking them is an important aspect of care. Walking is necessary and providing you follow the information in this article you can walk your dog as much as you like. There is no law or reason why you should have to keep your dog inside for their entire season and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Just being aware of what can happen when you go out with them and choosing the right time and area to walk them can make all the difference between an enjoyable walk and a stressful one.

 

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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