Can the Male Dog be Around Newborn Puppies?
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When we decide to adopt a dog into our family, it is important to carry out come sort of control over their reproductive abilities. This is so that we can avoid unwanted pregnancy which can both strain our resources and contribute to the overpopulation of abandoned dogs. However, some may find they have a pregnant bitch either by design or accident. If this occurs, you will want to ensure the health of the mother and puppies so that they have the best start in life.
One of the most frequent doubts many guardians of a pregnant dog may consider is whether the male dog can be around the newborn puppies. In this AnimalWised article, we'll discuss if the presence of the male dog is to be avoided or whether there is a good time to introduce a male dog to the puppies.
Is it necessary to separate the male from a pregnant female?
During a dog's pregnancy, the mother will experience a series of changes both physiological and hormonal. This is so that their body can be prepared for developing their young within them and for lactation once they are born. It is a very special and delicate process which their body and mind must go through. This is why it is essential for guardians of pregnant dogs to provide a positive and safe environment as well as other necessary care steps to ensure a healthy gestation process.
In the final weeks of their pregnancy, female dogs will carry out some specific hormonal changes as their body prepares for an imminent birth and subsequent lactation period. Although these hormones are imperceptible to us humans, male dogs can easily detect them due to the extreme sensitivity of their nose. At this time, males will be very attracted to the female and will want to smell them constantly to explore these new aromas.
Such insistence of a male can cause stress or anxiety in a female bitch. This can be detrimental to the health of both mother and offspring. This is why it is best to separate male dogs from pregnant females during the last 3 or 4 weeks of gestation. This will help to avoid negative stress factors in the female.
When the moment of birth is approaching (usually 10 to 15 days before), the female will search out a quiet, comfortable and safe space. This is so that they can prepare a ‘cosy nest’ where she can feel secure and relax when it comes time for the birth. At this time, it is extra important to ensure the male does not come to upset or disturb this safe space, otherwise it can affect the mental and physical health of the mother.
When the dog begins her labor, it is important for their guardians to remain attentive to any problems or complications which may arrive. However, we also need to ensure we respect their privacy at this time so as to not cause any further stress to the mother at such a delicate time. If the male dog is around, then it is much more likely the dog will be nervous which can have a seriously detrimental affect on the dog.
Should you separate the make dog from newborn puppies?
Whether or not the dog has sired puppies before, they are going to be interested in the presence of these new creatures. Using their adept senses, they will easily recognize the new puppies in the house. They will likely want to interact with them whether in the form of sniffing, playing or simply being near them. However, the newborn offspring are so sensitive and delicate that any intense interaction or disturbance can cause serious harm. Due to their strength, desire to explore and instinct to play, adult male dogs can often unintentionally cause this harm.
Additionally, the mother dog will be very protective during their puppies' first few weeks of life. The female's maternal function acts to preserve their offspring and provide the optimal conditions for development until such time as they can survive on their own. Therefore, the presence of the male or any other animals is almost never welcome during the neonatal period. In some cases, the female can develop aggression to protect her offspring and ward off potential threats, even if this comes from the father. Therefore, it is very important to respect the mother's ‘safe zone’ to avoid unnecessary conflicts, even if the parent dogs have otherwise had a good relationship.
On the other hand, it is also important to ensure the mother knows how to best take care of their puppies. Guardians need to offer the ideal environment for the puppies' physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. It is also important to have the guidance of a veterinarian, especially for first those who have not previously cared for a pregnant dog. This means helping to control their growth and weight gain with appropriate diet. This in turn will also ensure the recovery of the mother. The vet can also give you advice on a suitable time to introduce the male dog to their offspring.
When can I introduce a make dog to its puppies?
Firstly we must understand there is no exact date to present a male to its offspring. As every dog is a unique being, this optimal moment will depend on the development of each puppy and the reaction of the mother when you start to intrude on their postnatal safe space.
In general, dogs are more protective and closed off during the first 15 days after delivery. This represents the neonatal period where they puppies are ‘newborn’. During this stage the male dog must stay away completely and our own interaction must be as minimal as possible. We should only intervene if there is a threat to the well-being of mother or puppies.
After this initial period, the transition period begins. This will last until 20 or 21 days of the life of the offspring. During this phase, the puppies will begin to be active and have some curiosity about their new environment. The mother will still take care in terms of feeding and providing a hygienic environment. However, her behavior will be more serene and she will begin to accept new presences in her environment.
After these 21 days or so post-delivery, the puppies will have already developed some mobility and begin their period of socialization. This is a key stage in any puppy's development. They begin to recognize themselves as individuals in their own species as well as in their social context. The mother will play an important part in orientating their young during this period of discovery. They will present them with good habits and demonstrate the basics of canine body language and healthy coexistence with others.
It is at this point you can start to introduce the male to the puppies. But this interaction must always be gradual and progressive since this is a new reality for both the father and the young. It is essential that human guardians monitor and control the first contact of the male dog with the puppies. This is to avoid any rough interactions as well as to avoid any conflict with the mother. It is also essential that the male is healthy and free from disease. Vaccination schedules need to be adhered to and parasitic deworming treatments need to be up to date. This is to avoid contamination of the vulnerable newborns as well as reducing the likelihood of developmental problems.
The benefits of presenting the male to puppies
Many pet owners are afraid to let the young offspring interact with either the father or any other male dog. However, this interaction can actually be a very positive one for the cognitive, emotional and mental state of the puppies. This is, of course, as long as the welfare of the puppies is always preserved. They are still growing and will be inexperienced when it comes to interacting with adult dogs.
When it comes to introducing male dogs to puppies, it is important to remember dogs are social animals. They are naturally inclined to live in groups that maintain a hierarchical structure with rules of coexistence to ensure the survival of all members. Parenting with a male and an adult female (a ‘collective’ structure, so to speak) can help the puppy to understand natural social orders of dogs as well as the role of an individual in a community. This will include learning canine language, limits of play and proper bite inhibition.
Coexistence with other animals of the same species helps in the socialization process. Although socialization is, in effect, a lifelong process, the period between birth and their third month of life is vital. When a dog is not properly presented to the stimuli of its environment, including other animals, it can lead to serious learning and behavioral problems later in life.
The mere presence of an adult male dog does not replace other elements of socialization and many puppies will develop well without it. However, introducing the male dog to puppies provides an early opportunity which can help build trust early.
On a final note, it is important to know that the puppies need to complete their first cycles of vaccination and deworming before they can make trips outside and start interacting with other animals outside of the immediate family.
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