I was contacted recently by a client with a 10 month old Labradoodle bitch that I had spent some time with last year when I provided advice and coaching on appropriate puppy life-skills, socialisation and basic behaviour shaping. The owner telephoned me for assistance with her pup who was expressing some novel behaviours that she was unable to rationalise, which included; loss of recall, appearing fearful of her, refusing to come back indoors and barking continuously until very late at night. This enquiry reminded me of a similar, but different, experience I had with a young Collie bitch a few years ago, who was also 10 months old, from Somerset. The dog had been reported to me as having bitten her owner and another family dog which was completely out of character for this gentle natured puppy. The owner had taken her pup to the vet who had recommended PTS (Put To Sleep – euthanasia) as he had “…seen this behaviour in Collies before and PTS is the only remedy”. Through a friend in Somerset I agreed to foster this Collie to avoid PTS and she came to live with me and my three dogs in SW Wales. Within a few days of living with my ‘family’ the Collie pup commenced her first season – much to the interest of my three male dogs. Bizarrely, just a couple of weeks following the cessation of her initial season she had a second season which must have caused the poor little dog such anguish and confusion.
At the time I felt that the Collie’s problematic biting behaviour towards her original owner may have been triggered by the onset of her first season and the current stage of her puppy growth period development. My thoughts were that the Collie had entered her 2nd Fear Imprint Period [This is the period in which your dog may become fearful of otherwise familiar people, dogs and objects as well as unfamiliar circumstances] and coupled with her approaching first season she was being ruled by her hormones and was not acting rationally. I had tried to find information on any similar incidences at the time; but to no avail.
This latest incident with the Labradoodle inspired me to again investigate this arena of puppy development and through Kerry Rhodes-Wilson of Rhodes2Safety I was made aware of the excellent blog on the topic; http://thedarlingdogcompany.typepad.com/my-blog/2012/05/bitches-being-in-season-changes-in-behaviour.html This blog provides information, support and guidance to puppy owners going through this period with their young dog. My friend Mel Loveridge, The Canine Coach, was also able to confirm my findings with these two puppies and inspired me to write this blog.
My observations are that some female dogs may experience a difficult and challenging time during the approaching weeks to their first season; these dogs need extra patience, understanding and calmness from their owners. I’m collecting data on any similar situations with pups’ with behavioural issues in the build-up to their first season and I would appreciate any data from dog owners who may be experiencing any out-of-character behaviour from their pups.