In this article, I’m gonna go over a kind of sensitive subject – canine aggressiveness after the birth of a litter. I say sensitive because generally speaking, most people are very excited about the arrival of the puppies, which can lead to an excess of attention that sometimes results in the dog showing signs of aggression after childbirth.
It’s very important to understand that no matter how cute the puppies are, unless there are problems, you should just observe and provide the family with a calm, safe environment.
How can you help?
Female dogs undergo a gestation period of about two months. Normally, this process goes smoothly and the dog is able to give birth alone without any help. In the same way, she will be prepared to take charge of cutting the umbilical cords, ingesting the placentas and other remains, and cleaning her pups. This will go on for the first few weeks after giving birth.
All of these actions can be carried out without any human intervention other than just providing them with a clean, warm and safe place to stay, as well as providing plenty of water and adequate food so that the mother can produce milk and recuperate. Intervention should only be necessary if the mother abandons her litter, refuses to eat, catches an illness, or the puppies appear to be sick. If any of these things happen, then you must intervene and take them to the veterinarian. So, to sum it up. Our job is to cover their basic needs and watch over them unless a very serious problem arises.
Providing the mother and her young with a stress-free environment is essential because hormones like oxytocin circulate between the mother and her puppies, but it cannot be secreted in situations of stress such as excessive handling. Additionally, even though she is your dog, you must take into account that her instincts dictate above all else that she must protect her puppies. This is why excessive touching or having her visit strangers, or regular handling could contribute a great deal of stress to her. A leading cause of aggression after birth can be attributed to improper handling. This should be avoided, not only because she may growl and bite, but also because milk production will be compromised which would be detrimental to her puppies.
Signs of stress
Some owners don’t fully understand and may even find it funny that the mother hides her puppies, but it is actually a sign that she is not comfortable in her current situation. If she moves her family it is most likely because she feels that hse is not safe and is trying to find another more secure area. This can sometimes put her puppies in jeopardy, so in order to avoid this, you must give them peace of mind.
Another sign of stress can be an aggressive attitude to unexpected visitors or excessive handling of her puppies which may lead to nervousness and restlessness.
When around your dog’s puppies, you must always start by acting very calm and relaxed, and you should try to limit yourself to only observing. It is normal to feel the impulse to pet and want to carry the newborns, but if the dog doesn’t seem comfortable with you near her puppies, you must respect her wishes and not force it. Just remember, in a few weeks the little ones will have grown up enough to start interacting with the environment, which includes you so you will have plenty of opportunities to play with them in front of their mother. So don’t worry if your dog doesn’t allow you to touch her puppies at first.
What if my dog bites?
This is the most worrying case and should be taken very seriously. Leaving the family in peace can prevent this reaction, which includes not allowing other animals you may have access to your dog and her puppies. No matter how good of a relationship they may have had so far, the protective instinct is much stronger and may lead to them reacting violently if, for instance, another dog approaches the litter. In any case, growling and showing their teeth, or even biting indicates major stress that you must remedy immediately.
To avoid problems after the arrival of a litter, the new family should be kept in a quiet, secure place away from the daily traffic of your home and from contact with other animals, if any. The area that you provide should also be easy to clean. At first, your dog may not want to be separated from her young for an extended period of time which is completely normal which is why walks should be short. Above all, avoid too much contact with the puppies for the first couple weeks and do not allow strangers to visit and disturb the family’s peace. Let’s respect them.
With all of the measures taken, you can avoid stressful or violent situations. An important thing to take note of is the mother may show slight signs of aggression towards her puppies as they mature and grow. It is not uncommon for them to show their teeth, growl, or even bite because it is part of the puppy’s education as they grow up and you should not interfere unless you believe it is serious enough.