They say that motherhood is a full-time job and more. It must be a wonderful feeling if your female dog has just given birth but it is a very busy time for both the dog and yourself.
The momma dog will be busy feeding and looking after her pup after giving birth and the dog owner will be ensuring that both mother and puppies are doing well.
At least for the first few weeks.
One common issue that owners have is with the mother dogs moving their newborn puppies out of the whelping box.
A mother dog moving her puppies is normal behavior when the bitch is trying to keep her puppies safe or she doesn’t like her whelping area. However, there are times when the mother dog could be moving her puppies for the wrong reasons.
In this article, we will be looking at the common reasons that will cause this behavior and what you should be doing about it.
How To Prepare For Your Dog’s Labor?
If you are a dog owner that has never been through a doggie pregnancy before, there are a few important points that you need to know before that big day arrives
Preparation begins way before your dog gives birth.
You can start by giving your dog a good diet while she is pregnant. That doesn’t mean you should be feeding your dog junk before that but a good diet will help put your female dog in good health.
Be prepared to take your dog out for more toilet breaks as the increased consumption of food and the pressure of the pups in the belly can cause your pregnant dog to poop in the house.
Feed her a nutritious diet that is high in protein, low in fats and carbohydrates and as free as possible from preservatives and artificial stuff.
As mother dogs need to eat more to fuel the growth of their puppies, make sure you are feeding her enough on a daily basis.
As her day approaches, it is important that you give her a whelping box or area to give birth in. This area should private, warm and cozy for the mother dog.
Why Does My Dog Keep Moving Her Puppies?
Dogs in the wild are constantly moving their puppies all the time if they deemed it to be appropriate. And given their sharp instincts, it’s usually the right choice. But why would a mother dog who is well taken care of still exhibit such unusual behaviors?
Let us take a look at the possible reasons.
The Presence Of Predators
It might sound silly for your dog to start moving her puppies around in the house due to the possibility of predators. But what your eyes or nose can’t detect doesn’t mean there’s an absence of danger.
A dog’s sense of smell and hearing is pretty amazing. It can smell and hear things far beyond a human’s comprehension.
To put things into perspective, it has been reported that some dogs can detect a scent as far as 20km away! And dogs can also hear 4x further than us. When you are armed with such acute senses, almost anything can seem dangerous.
Your female dog’s maternal instincts may have been triggered by a predator or animal she smelt or heard some distance away. Therefore, her first reaction is to bring her pups somewhere safer.
Even though your dog is completely safe at home, she is still an animal and they are let by their instincts.
Mother dogs are extremely protective of their newborn puppies.
How Can You Help?
It is difficult to prevent your dog from hearing or smelling something so far away. The best that you can do is to secure your premises well so that you don’t get wild animals wandering in your backyard and scaring your dog.
Fences might not be sufficient to keep all of them out. You can try using motion-sensor devices that let out a sound or spray water when activated.
New Mom Syndrome
If you are a new mom, the amount of effort and anxiety that you are going through must be mind-boggling. There isn’t anything that can quite prepare you for parenthood.
Imagine your dog who has never had a litter before, now has to look after 4-6 hungry and needy puppies. She doesn’t have a partner to help her or the ability to search for a tutorial on YouTube.
All she has is herself.
Your dog might be feeling flustered and anxious with all that is going on with her newborn. Mothering behavior isn’t something that she is used to and can be easily overwhelmed.
She’s not too sure what to do and moving her puppies around might be a sign of confusion.
How Can You Help?
If your dog is having a litter for the first time, it is imperative that you stay by her side as much as possible to help.
Keep her whelping box as clean as possible to prevent any bacterial infection from occurring. Your dog will be too busy looking after her pups to eat so make sure to give her as much nourishment as possible to keep her weight up.
If your dog is fine with you touching her puppies, you can take a soft cloth and help her clean her pups. Don’t make an attempt to touch them if your dog starts to show any signs of aggression like growling or barking.
You don’t want to upset her and she might start moving her puppies.
Not Comfortable Enough
The area where your dog is raising her puppies has to be very comfortable for both the mother and her pups. If your dog isn’t satisfied with her room or whelping box, she will not hesitate to move her puppies to somewhere more comfortable or appropriate.
The whelping area before she gave birth might have changed recently without you realizing it.
There are a couple of factors that you need to be aware of.
Is there enough privacy for your dog to rest and look after her offspring? Are your other pets or young kids coming into the room to touch or see what’s going on?
Anyone who isn’t helping should not have any access to the whelping area.
The temperature of the whelping area is very important. Puppies cannot regulate their body temperature for the first 2 weeks. This makes them very susceptible to hypothermia or heat stroke.
A good temperature to maintain for the puppies is around 85-90F (29.5 – 32 C).
One good way to tell if the temperature is ok is by looking at the puppies. If the puppies are all scattered then it might be too hot. If they are all closely huddled then it might be too cold.
It can be tricky trying to get the temperature right so it will take some trial and error.
Is the area or room that your dog is in near something noisy or loud like a main road? If that is the case, you should try and move them to an area that is quieter.
Remember that dogs have very sensitive hearing. What might sound like a whisper to you can sound like a firework going off next to your dog.
Most nursing dogs like to be in a quiet, secluded safe space with their puppies where they feel completely safe, if not they can pick up and move their pups to a better environment.
A Runt Of The Litter
In some litters, there can be one poor puppy who is considered the runt of the litter. This puppy is considered to be the weakest and or smallest one in the entire litter.
There are a few causes for this.
It could be that the dog was getting sufficient nutrients while it was growing in the mother’s womb which makes it smaller than the rest. The puppy could also have a congenital health issue that makes it weaker and smaller.
Some mother dogs are known to ignore or remove the runt of the litter from the rest of the puppies. It might seem cruel but in nature, it is the survival of the fittest.
If the runt is too small and weak to fight for a nipple to feed on, it will quickly grow sick and experience fading puppy syndrome.
Newborn puppies need colostrum from their mother’s milk to help bolster their immune system and fuel their growth.
If you notice that your dog moves only one particular puppy around, that could be the runt of the litter that she is trying to dispose of.
How Can You Help?
In order for you to help the runt of the litter, you will need to be able to identify it as quickly as possible.
Besides making note of which puppy the mother dog is moving around, make sure to also weigh all the puppies daily to make sure that they are all gaining weight.
As a rule of thumb, newborn puppies should increase by about 10% in body weight daily.
Puppies who are not gaining or losing weight will need special care.
You will need to manually bottlefeed them with specialized puppy formula to make sure that they are getting all the proper nutrients.
If the mother dog is ok with the runt being with the rest of the litter, you can put the puppy back after feeding it. Otherwise, it would be best to remove the puppy altogether.
Some mother dogs are known to be aggressive and violent towards the runt of the litter to make sure they are not ‘stealing’ food away from the healthier puppies.
Your Dog Wants To Be With You
Motherhood is a very stressful time for many female dogs and this is the time when they need their owners’ attention the most.
It is important for your dog to be left alone with her puppies as much as possible but not to the extent of just leaving her alone.
If you have not been giving your dog sufficient attention, your dog would want to be close to you but it is logistically challenging at the moment.
She is torn between having to nurse her pups and hanging out in the living room which was something you both used to do often.
This can cause your dog to start moving her puppies to the place where you are in order to spend more time with you and still get to nurse her pups.
How Can You Help?
I would strongly suggest sleeping in the same room as your dog for the first 2-3 weeks after she gives birth.
This is important for two reasons.
Your continuous presence will give your dog the comfort and attention that she needs during this tough time. And you will be able to closely monitor her and her puppies to make sure she is taking good care of them and doesn’t accidentally sit or lay on any of her pups.
If your dog keeps moving her puppies to a place in the house whenever you are there, just take the puppy and place it back in the whelping area. Your dog will soon get the idea that it shouldn’t be moving the pups around.