Saturday, October 25, 2008

More bitchy talk!

Dogsdeservefreedom left a good comment on my last post, and reminded me of several things I forgot to add about managing an intact female dog.

The first, and most obvious, is that although I emphasized how important it is to keep an intact male dog at home I didn't specifically mention that about an intact female. Probably everyone reading this is already knowledgeable enough to know this already... but if not:

All the time, even if you think she's not in season. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell for sure. And basically, if your dogs run loose sometimes - for whatever reason - you absolutely MUST have them all sterilized. It's not only the responsible thing to do, but will save you lots of headaches and even lots of money in the long run!

Other points to consider:
If she is in season - if you even THINK she might be in season - then it's not just a matter of keeping male dogs away from her, but also being considerate and not taking her places where she will be an undue distraction for any male dogs. The example of taking your girl to be groomed is a good one.

Also, most training classes don't allow bitches in season to attend class - if necessary, talk to your instructor about having a private lesson or two so that you don't lose too much ground for the weeks your girl is in confinement. Or, just go to the class without your dog. That may sound weird, but that way you'll see the lessons being covered and then you can practice those same things at home. Training classes are more for teaching the PEOPLE anyway - you learn how to teach your dog to do something, but your dog actually learns that lesson best at home in a quieter environment.

At the very least, if you think she may be in season talk to your groomer or your instructor and follow their advice about if or when to bring her to them. If they say it's OK to bring her, then be sure to put diapers on her so she doesn't drip on their floor or in the class area. Be sure to keep her away from other dogs if at all possible, or at least warn other dogs' handlers that she is in season - if they have an intact male, you SURE don't want her getting too close and enticing him! And remember that SHE may be abnormally cranky toward other dogs, and even if she's normally a sweetheart she may snap at inquisitive dogs when she's in season. So keep your distance.

As for showing - bitches in season are NOT allowed to compete in any performance events. That includes obedience, agility, tracking, herding, field trials, lure coursing etc. The only AKC event that does allow a bitch in season to participate is conformation. Even though she's allowed at the show, again be considerate of other handlers while you are waiting to go in the ring. Keep her diapers on her until just before her class is called, keep her to one side and away from other dogs as much as possible, and tell other handlers that she's in season so they know to keep their dogs away. Once you're in the ring, it's a good idea to tell the judge she's in season also. Some bitches show just fine when they're in season, but some won't. She may be abnormally fearful or resistant, or not want the judge to touch her hindquarters or tail. If she "acts up", remember that in this case it really isn't a training issue. Don't scold or punish her - if she seems really unhappy just ask to be excused from the ring and keep her home until she goes out of season again. She'll be back to her normal self once she's out of season.

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