From The Blog, Puppy Power

Puppy’s First Season

Now a puppy’s season was a subject I definitely knew nothing about and so I’ve been fairly explicit in this blog for any other puppy novices out there who have no idea what to expect from their female charges. However, please don’t continue if you’re squeamish because what follows is the full, illustrated account of Freya’s first (and last) season.

Why on earth would I feel the need to include images of Freya’s more intimate parts? I hear you ask…well for this you can blame my lovely friend Ruth owner of Freya’s half sister, Amber. Freya is two months younger than Amber, but she came into season at six months, whereas Amber’s followed later when she was ten months. Six months is quite early for a puppy to come into season. In fact my vet asked me if I was sure she’d had the full works when I took her to be spayed a few months later, to which I replied – oh yes, the whole four weeks of works!

On reflection Freya’s season consisted of four phases with her behaviour and emotions erratic and unpredictable. There were also very visible physical changes. When I explained to Ruth that Freya’s intimate parts had tripled in size, she was keen to see her and hear about the ‘season’ experience so that she would know what to expect with Amber. Ruth’s older cockapoo, Digby, is male… so this was a first for her as well.

Freya’s Season

The first phase was lethargy and loss of appetite, and then began her body odour; this was very apparent as cockapoos don’t have the typical ‘doggy smell’. After this came the visible physical changes in her body and then other more anti-social behaviours ensued.

Day One: Lethargic went off her food and we thought it was because she was tiring of puppy kibble.

Day Two and Three: Depressed, didn’t want to play. Moped around flopping dramatically on the floor emitting huge sighs.

Day Four Onwards: Gradually became smelly – we realised later this was the odour of blood, although she hadn’t started bleeding at this stage.

Puppy's first season - enlarged vulva

Day Eleven: Enlarged vulva – this had become very swollen to three times its normal size and began to spot blood. Her nipples also became very prominent and have remained this way ever since.

Puppy's first season - bleeding vulva

Day Thirteen: Freya began to leave wee trails like a dog during her walks.

Day Eighteen: The anti-social leg and arm humping began, primarily on men. This was totally unexpected as I thought this was a male trait, but apparently it’s related to dominance and typical female behaviour when on heat.

Day Nineteen: The vulva swelling began to go down and the blood flow stopped.

Day Twenty: Back to normal although Freya was left with a slightly larger ‘adult’ vulva and nipples.

Dog Protection While In Season

Puppy's first season - three cockapoos wearing dog pants

Freya was fastidious and cleaned herself throughout the bleed phase. Bleeding was minimal and there was the odd spot around the kitchen, but thankfully it was never enough to warrant buying dog pants.

Puppy's first season - blood on blanket

The only real time it was noticeable was on Freya’s blanket each morning. However, there was very little– the above image was taken after the bleeding had abated. I left washing it until the season was over to lessen distress.

Walks and Dog Avoidance

When I took Freya out for her walk, she remained firmly on the lead and any unwanted attention from dogs – and there was only one occasion – I picked her up and carried her (bit difficult for those with larger cockapoos!). In my opinion, you can’t keep a cockapoo confined for the four weeks they are on heat; this is totally unrealistic and dog pants would certainly deter dogs, although they are no guarantee of protection from a determined dog apparently.

The difficulty for us was that Freya actually encouraged dogs by seeking their attention – urinating in order to leave her scent everywhere (counted ten times on a 30 minute walk) and since her season she has constantly encouraged dogs to pay her attention, licking their faces and then lying down and being submissive. Nightmare – hoping spaying sorts this one out!

Ruth’s Experience

Knowledge was power for Ruth as she knew exactly what to expect when Amber came into season a month later. However, what she didn’t anticipate was that her neutered dog, Digby, would try to mount Amber and they would become ‘tied’.

Never having encountered this before, Ruth tried to part them fearing that Digby could still impregnate her. Neither of us had any idea that a neutered dog could even have an erection! Ruth asked my opinion and I said surely in order to make sperm Digby had to have testicles, and neutering removes the testicles so logically there was no way Amber could get pregnant.

Ruth was assured by her vet that only very recently neutered dogs may still have sperm in their adrenal glands, so no there was no chance of a pregnancy. However, he also advised that parting them was the worst thing she could have done; you should never try to part a tied dog and bitch as you will cause them both physical damage. Apparently after ejaculation, the male dog’s penis stays inside the female’s vagina for about 15-30 minutes. During this time the dogs may whine and look distressed but this is normal, and there’s no need to worry.

So the moral of Ruth’s tale is if you have a male dog in the same household they should never be left unsupervised with a bitch in season as even neutered males will attempt to mate and they can become ‘tied’. Luckily all was well for Digby and Amber.

Also interesting was the fact that while Amber was leaving urine trails during lead walks, Digby left his scent over the top – she was ‘his bitch’ exclaimed Ruth, amid much laughter.

Tips from a Novice

  • A bitch’s first season usually happens when they are between 6 and 12 months old – although can be younger or older – and occurs twice a year.
  • While the length of each season varies, the average length of each season is 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Freya was always kept on a short lead. As she was only six months, walks were short at 30 minutes twice a day so less of a problem than for an older dog.
  • I walked Freya during quiet times when there weren’t many dogs about and avoided popular routes used by dog owners.
  • A friend advised me to not walk Freya locally as dogs could follow her scent home.
  • If I saw a dog approaching I changed route to avoid any encounters.
  • It could be an issue if your puppy goes off their food like Freya. She was on Oscar kibble at the time so we just gradually introduced adult into her puppy food and this solved the problem. You could just try adding tasty bits such as fish, chicken and liver and mix until they get their appetite back. See feeding a fussy cockapoo.
  • Lots of cuddles during their depressed period.

You can read more about abnormal heat cycles in female dogs here
Image Link: Kuoser 3 PCS – Reusable Washable Female Dog Diaper Durable



  • Thank you this was very helpful as a first time owner. I am hoping to wait after her cycle to get her spaying done.
    My puppy is 6 months and grabbing my arm but not sure if she wants to play or that is one of sign
    that she is starting her cycle. She is not ready for spaying i was told as she is squirmy and extremely friendly, loves to get people’s attention. I am hoping it will be a easy for both of us.
    This is such a learning time for me and I appreciate your distinct and personable experiences.
    thank you

    • My pleasure Savitri. I was advised by my vet that it was important to allow your puppy to have at least one season before spaying to ensure she had gone through puberty. I am about to adopt puppy number two so will be rereading all my blogs myself 😀

  • This was so helpful, thank you! Our Cockapoo who just turned 8mths old today has come into season and as first time owners we didn’t know what to expect. I really appreciate your openness.
    We haven’t been able to get her spayed because it was considered non essential during Covid, so she’s on a wait list at her vet. We haven’t had the lethargy with her but she has been off her food which now explains why! As it’s day 1 for us your account will be helpful as we go through the next few weeks with her x

    • Oh I’m so pleased Carolyn. Freya was very young as I say and when the vet questioned me as to whether she really had gone through her first season. Maybe I should have shown him the rather graphic pictures as evidence. I did worry that I’d gone overboard, but I just illustrated what I would have found useful. I now have Frankie who is five months old so will soon be refreshing my memory. Good luck with your cockapoo journey – it’s a wonderful one 🙂 x

  • This is so interesting, really informative and reassuring. Our Cockapoo is now 10 months and has been off her food on and off for about three months. I think the heat has played a massive part in this, but give her scramble eggs or chicken etc, she’s happy! So we’re starting the transition to adult food this week as recommended by the vet. She’s cleaning herself a lot, has up and down days, some little signs of blood on our (cream!) bedding which we suspect is Betsy. Still unsure if she’s in season at this point to be honest, but reading your blog is helpful to keep an eye on key stages! She’s black too so hard to see any blood from her, her vulva does seem swollen and she does smell which she’s never done before. Poor pup! Cuddles and more cuddles, with special out of the way walks is what we’ll prescribe.

    • So glad you found this helpful Carly. Freya had very little blood as well, but at 10 months it does sound likely Betsy is beginning her first season so every precaution when walking is so wise as the smell is perfume to male dogs. Cuddles are always the best solution.

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