DOG NESTING: Reasons For Nesting Behaviours in Dog

Dog Nesting
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Dogs are intelligent creatures, and as such, can be associated with human intelligence at a certain level. Dog intelligence is the ability of the dog to perceive information and retain it as knowledge in order to solve problems. Among the several traits and behaviours of a dog is its nesting instinct. This is a situation whereby an expectant female dog prepares a safe environment for delivering her puppies. Meanwhile, this same drive is seen in humans, though with a different kind of attitude but definitely for the same purpose—comfort. 

In this article, we will be discussing some nesting behaviours in dogs, and in case you were wondering if the nesting instinct is only seen in female/pregnant dogs, you’re about to find out!

Dog Nesting- What Is It?

Nesting behaviours are actions that a pregnant dog exhibits to prepare a home for her impending puppies. For example, when a female dog is preparing for the birth of her puppies, she normally tears newspapers and rips beds—all to fulfill a nesting instinct. 

It’s typical to watch a dog groom herself excessively before giving birth to puppies. This is also one of the dog-nesting behaviours. In anticipation of her litter, she licks continuously. Pacing and acting uncomfortable and uneasy before labor are examples of other behaviours of a nesting dog. She first seeks solitude and when comfortable, the dog returns to her nest and prepares to give birth to her pups. Keep reading to learn about dog nesting before labor.

Dog Nesting Behaviours

Nest-making behaviour in dogs is defined differently by everyone. Some people believe that a dog dragging his blanket into the sun is creating a nest. For others, the dog must burrow, shred bedding, and groom herself in order to be considered nesting.

Nesting habits for dogs include the following:

  • Lugging bedding or beds to a new location
  • Burrowing or digging into tight areas
  • Making a depression by scratching out dirt, soil, or even bedding
  • Shredding blankets to place at a specific location
  • Pawing at a couch cushion or comforter
  • Hiding away in a closet or other small space

Pregnant or falsely pregnant dogs may accumulate toys or stuffed animals, over-groom, or begin to defend their nest from intruders.

Reasons for Nesting Behaviours in a Female Dog

Pregnancy or false pregnancy are two prevalent causes of your dog’s excessive nesting behaviours. Several chronic conditions might raise your dog’s chances of having a false pregnancy, which is the main cause of dog nesting behaviours. False pregnancy occurs when pregnancy symptoms are imitated in unspayed female dogs who have been in heat but are not pregnant. This may cause that nesting urge to kick in, but it will not result in a fresh litter of puppies.

Other times, your dog, male or female, is simply uncomfortable and needs to rearrange its environment. In their current situation, they may be feeling too hot, too cold, or too cramped. But even so, more serious nesting behaviours, such as shredding blankets, digging into confined spaces, or over-grooming, are frequently a symptom of an actual pregnancy.

Other reasons include:

  • Hypothyroidism

When the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroxine, the condition is known as hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone). Thyroxine is a hormone that helps regulate the pace at which the body burns calories. Hypothyroidism can result in unpredictable estrus cycles, which can lead to a false pregnancy. Weight gain can also be caused by hypothyroidism.

Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Huskies, Rottweilers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Border Collies, Weimaraners, and Maltese are all predisposed to hypothyroidism.

  • Mastitis

Mastitis is a mammary gland inflammation. Mammary glands can become enlarged and inflamed as a result of infected ducts. Tumors can also cause swollen mammary glands. The enlarged mammary glands can fool a dog into thinking she is pregnant, resulting in nesting.

  • Comfortability

Considering how comfortable nests are by nature, comfort would be a reasonable explanation for your dog’s nesting behavior. However, we shouldn’t conflate nesting with activities like hiding under a warm blanket in the winter or shredding a cushion out of worry because they are not the same.

  • Change of Environment

In the event that your dog goes through any sudden changes, the nesting behavior might intensify. Moving or the arrival of new furry family members are two examples. Your dog can try to find comfort by building a nest in these tense circumstances.

  • Injuries

A dog doesn’t want to be disturbed when they are sick or injured. When dogs are hurt, they frequently nest to rest and heal.

Dog Nesting Box

Like I said earlier, dog behavior can be related to that of humans. When it has to do with comfort, dogs too are intentional about it. If your dog is expecting pups and is showing signs of labour, you should provide her with nesting beds or a whelping box so she has a comfortable place to deliver. A nesting box, also known as a whelping box, is essentially the location where your dog will deliver her puppies after labour and raise them for the first six weeks of their lives. In other words, a nesting is intended to safeguard puppies at their birth and early life by keeping them warm and safe from the mother’s crushing or smothering.

The nesting box must be spacious enough to accommodate the mother-dog and her puppies in a variety of postures. It should be spacious enough for the mother to lie down and stretch out luxuriously, as well as provide adequate space for the puppies. Importantly, every dog nesting box must have a bottom and four sides. The sides should be 12 to 18 inches high, with a lower aperture at the front to allow the bitch to easily get in and out of the box. The nesting box should ideally include an inner rail, known as the pig rail, that runs around all four walls and is situated four to six inches above the bottom of the box. This rail guard against the bitch accidentally pins a newborn puppy against a wall.

To encourage a pregnant dog’s nesting instinct, introduce her to the nesting box at least five days before her due date. This gives her time to acclimate and feel comfortable before the puppies are born.

Characteristics of a Nesting Box

The following are the ideal features of a nesting box for the mother-dog

  • Dry and warm
  • Simple to clean
  • Waterproof
  • one and a half/two times the length of the dam, allowing her to stretch out fully with enough space to spare
  • Allows the dam to be separated from her puppies while preventing the puppies from escaping.
  • Has a barrier or ledge 3 to 4 inches from the floor around the perimeter to prevent the dam from crushing or smothering a puppy caught between her body and the edges of the box.

Apart from boxes, there are also nesting beds that are equally comfortable for your dog. These beds, just like the nesting box, are specious enough for the mother dog and her puppies.

Essentials to look out for when considering nesting beds for you dog include the following

  • Warm and soft
  • Avoid hay, straw, shavings, or other stiff particles that can irritate the eyes and skin of newborn puppies.
  • Excellent traction
  • Simple to clean and disinfect
  • Free of insects
  • Allows moisture to be drawn away.
  • Avoid using rags, blankets, or rugs that will allow puppies to crawl underneath and potentially be suffocated by the dam.

To see the variety of nesting beds available click here

Dog Nesting How Long Till Labour

Nesting is one of the main characteristics every dog exhibits, however, it tends to be high when they are pregnant and in labour because of their concern for the upcoming pups. So, when you see some of the above mentioned signs in your dog, it shouldn’t be something to worry too much about. In some cases, though, you may have to see a veterinary, especially if it’s a male dog or in the case of a false pregnancy.  

Having said that, knowing when your dog is in labour and ready to give birth is important, but more importantly is knowing how long the nesting lasts before labour. 

A pregnant dog usually begins nesting within 48 hours of the commencement of labour. Scratching at her bed and hunting for a safe spot to have her puppies are two of the warning indicators. As her due date approaches, you should start taking her rectal temperature once or twice a day. The normal body temperature is 100-102°F. When the rectal temperature falls below 100°F, it is a good indication that labour will start within 24 hours.

Your dog will begin to have uterine contractions during the first stage of labour. She might also begin pacing or digging. Many dogs will pant or shake in response, while others will even puke.

FAQs on Dog Nesting

Can a female dog give birth to puppies on Different Days?

The time between birthing breaks ranges from 45 minutes to four hours. This means that puppies cannot be born on different days.

What role does nesting play?

Nesting is more than just decorating the house or buying baby clothes, it’s a natural tendency that gives the female species a sense of control over their environment and is essential to getting ready for delivery. It happens in nature, many animal females build a den or a nest to ensure the safety and security of their young.

How long till dogs give birth once they begin to nest?

A pregnant dog usually begins nesting within 48 hours of the commencement of labour. Scratching at her bed and hunting for a safe spot to keep her babies are two of these indicators.

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