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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
I have a miniature cocapoo and she is in her 2 Nd week of her season she is 9 months…..apparently she will be
Acceptable to male dogs for another week. The Vet said I can have her spayed in two months..
Nearly there Louisa…it was avoiding male dogs on walks that was the most frustrating. Cockapoos are a lively mixed breed (you may have noticed!) so following spaying, the 10 day after care can be a challenge. Don’t forget to read about Freya’s experience – loads of luck
Our pup has just turned 6 months old and we were so worried as she was off her food. Not affectionate as normal, sleepy and flumping around sighing! Reading your blog was so comforting and confirmed our suspicions that she was starting her season. Lots of cuddles and trying to tempt her to eat…thank you for sharing your experience with Freya xx Sonia
My pleasure Sonia. My blog actually helped me with our second pup, Frankie, who has just gone through her first season. She was 10 months as she came into heat and it was a much different experience as she spot bled for 10 days, didn’t go off her food or become depressed! It was only when a friend’s intact male began to pay her a little too much attention we even realised she was in season. Other than this, the physical signs were similar and her season lasted for the same length of time. xx
Thank you so much for telling your story, it helps me understand my COCKAPOO “Siah” so much more. She is now 6 and a half months and is in day 3 of her season. This is my first puppy and felt so helpless watching her droopy eyes and sometimes grabbing my arm and I don’t know what to do. I cuddle her a lot and say sweet nothing to her all the times
I’m so glad you found this page helpful Saudi; Siah sounds as if she’s having a similar experience to Freya. Your loving care will see her through.
Thank u for this blog,really helpful in knowing what to expect! We collect our pup in two weeks and someone had told me that seasons last 7 days! They lied! Feeling a little more prepared!
Thank u xx
Pleasure Rachel. Just to alert you to the fact that Frankie’s first season was at 10 months and lasted for five weeks! The seven days they were referring to is probably the bleed period. Enjoy your pup… it’s hard work to start with but super rewarding. x
This information was great, thank you very much!
This is great info thank u! My 7 (nearly 8) month old cockapoo is going through her first heat, this is day 10 of her bleeding and I can tell it’s becoming slightly watery which is a sign off it stoping, I’m I correct In Thinking, that now when the bleeding stops this is the time she can get pregnant ? I have reduced her walks from every day to 2/3 times a week, but I would be worried to take her out next week if this is the peak time she can get pregnant (like most I couldn’t get her spayed in the current lockdown as it didn’t redeem essential) and how long does this last phase last ?
Apologies Grace, the emails alerting me to posts stopped working and so I missed responding to your comment. I suspect you now have the answer to your question!
Thanks for this.. I keep coming back to reread as our cockapoo is currently on day 20 of bleeding with no sign of it stopping. Our vet isn’t overly concerned but it’s just to say that every dog is so different. She’s in pants, and has been since the blood started – really to save my furniture and carpets! It’s dark and plentiful and her ladybits are still huge. Hoping that things will slow down a bit soon as she’s up and down in herself. At least her appetite seems to be returning as we’ve had three weeks of barely eating I’m not breeding her, so thankfully, this is her first and last season!
Aside from the health benefits of spaying my cockapoos, to be honest for me it was being on heat attracting males – along with the bleeding cycle – that prompted me to have both Freya and Frankie spayed after their first season. I did think about breeding Frankie with a friend’s F1 cockapoo, but as she’s an F2, it meant there were concerns about her puppies inheriting health issues. So only three months to go and you will have peace of mind and your cockapoo will never again have to wear pants 😀
Love your accounts about Freya. I’m a little bewildered about what is happening with my 12 month old puppy Maggie. My dog groomer said her lady parts were a little swollen and her season was probably imminent. That was 3 weeks ago and nothing else has happened.
Her behaviour has changed with humping her bed, some loss of appetite and a need for more cuddles.
Dogs are interested in her and I have stopped her long beach walks which she loves and walk her at quieter times.
Does this pre season stage last a long time?
We are due to go on a holiday to Cornwall and it will be such a shame if she can’t run free on the beaches.
Any comments would be much appreciated
Hope you enjoy your trip in May
So pleased to hear you enjoy Freya’s antics. A puppy’s first season can be a little erratic, but the initial phase usually lasts around 10 days and Maggie would have bled during this time. If she regularly keeps herself clean you may not have noticed this; Freya’s bleed was really light. You say nothing has happened, but Maggie has all the symptoms of being on heat and this stage can last up to a further 10 days – Freya was 20 in total, Frankie a little longer. Hopefully, you will be ‘heat free’ by the time you go to Cornwall. The acid test is are her lady parts still really obvious? And check while she’s on the lead to see if males still show her too much attention when you walk near them.The fertile stage is after the bleed finishes; some females flirt and encourage males during this time, so you could also observe her behaviour.
Have a lovely holiday in Cornwall, such a beautiful part of the country and we hope to visit next year. And we’ll be sure to post Frankie’s review on our trip in May.
So wonderful to read Freya’s story. Marnie is in Day 5 or 6 of her first and last season, she has been so sleepy, we thought we had overdone it on our holiday last week, but when her lady bits started swelling I realised we had got back from our holiday just in time. (5 day holiday with 2 other male pups! they are great friends but did not want any puppy parenting!) She has been off her food on an off for a month now, mostly the fussy poo in her I think. But great to hear what else we maybe in store for her and us over the next couple of weeks.
Really glad it helped Fiona. Hope the images weren’t too graphic 😉 I also wrote one on Feeding a Fussy Cockapoo which you may find useful. Freya was dreadful when she was a puppy, but now I can’t feed her enough and she eats anything put in front of her!
Thank you Sally-Anne will definitely read that too, were on about day 18/19 and she is humping anything she can find like crazy. I am hoping that we are near the end now.
Oh the humping can continue at a later date… here’s the one I wrote on the ‘humping’ subject recently 😀 https://freyathecockapoo.com/2021/02/17/humping-in-female-dogs/?swcfpc=1
I have a 10 month old Cavapoo and found your blog invaluable. She went into heat at 9 months and when I read all the official sites they didn’t help but your day by day account and honest, plain description has helped me understand her bodies changes.
She has been amazing and coped with it all really well. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the snuggles. 😊
She is now at the humping stage but appears to only want my arm for this! 😁
At least I know the end is in sight!
So pleased you found the post helpful Sue… it’s one of the most popular ones!
I never write on things like this but it has been so helpful. My Cockerpoo Betty has just turned 9 months and we think is 2 weeks into her season. Sometimes we all need reassurance that everything is alright and your article really helped, from the not wanting to eat to just wanting to take herself away and sleep so thank you.
Well I’m delighted you decided to get in touch Julie. I’m so pleased the article helped you and Betty. Happy New Year!
Hi I am really thankful for your post, my cockerpoo Molly is 8 months old, I believed she was going through her first season at the end of November 2021 because of her behaviour, she got very clingy, went off her food lost a bit of weight but I didn’t see any blood and didn’t notice her vulva being enlarged. This last week she has gone totally clingy again, has gone off her food, her vulva has enlarged and she is losing blood. Surely she can’t have had 2 seasons so close together? Do you think the first time was just her body getting ready?
Hi Teresa I’ve not experienced this, but done some research and, like you say, it sounds as if it may have been hormone related; Molly’s body was developing so a precursor to the real thing. Apparently, females can have what’s called a silent heat: “With a silent heat, these external and internal symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, discharges, and swollen vulva are barely visible, if at all.” This comes from an interesting article, which details other behaviours around heat cycles
If you are worried at any stage, it’s always best to get your vet to check Molly out. Really glad my original article helped though.
Thank you for your openness I have a 9 months old Cockpoo. Bramble And your information is really helpful
My little girl is doing great a lot of cleaning but very clingy and wants to be picked up all the time so we dance around the kitchen I asked my vet what I should expect but they were very basic with what would happen
So thank you for your honest it explains everything
Oh that’s so good to hear. I was totally green and had no idea what to expect! This also helped as a refresher when Frankie came to live with us.