Nesting Behavior of a Pregnant Dog

A pregnant dog’s behavior changes as she prepares for her pups' arrival. Powerful hormones cause the changes. She seeks out a safe place to birth and later to care for her puppies. Nesting is a normal part of a healthy pregnancy in dogs.

What Is Nesting?

When a female dog is preparing for the birth of her puppies she will tear newspaper, rip blankets and gather toys in a designated area to create a nest and to fulfill a mothering instinct. She even carries around toys when not in her nest as a way of protecting her litter.

Grooming

It’s common to see a dog excessively groom herself before the birth of puppies. This too is a part of nesting. She licks constantly in anticipation of her litter.

Other Behavior

A pregnant dog paces and appears anxious and uneasy just prior to labor. She seeks out privacy. Once settled, the dog returns to her nest and prepares to birth (whelp) her pups.

Hormones

Hormones trigger the nesting instinct in dogs. Ovaries release progesterone and the anterior pituitary gland produces prolactin.

Occurrence

Pet Place says a dog exhibits nesting behavior within days of giving birth. A typical dog pregnancy term lasts as long as nine weeks with whelping starting on days 58 to 68.

Author

Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.

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