How to calm a male dog when a female is in heat

Female dog in head resting on owner

Understanding a female dog's heat cycle

Before we delve into how to calm male dog when a female dog is in heat, it's essential to comprehend the female dog's heat cycle.

A female dog, often referred to as a bitch, typically experiences her first heat cycle between 6 to 24 months of age, depending on the breed. Smaller breeds may go into heat earlier than larger ones.

Most female dogs experience a heat cycle roughly twice a year, each lasting about 21 to 28 days. The heat cycle, also known as estrus, is characterised by several signs:

  1. Swelling of the genitals
  2. Bloody discharge
  3. Excessive grooming and licking of the genitals
  4. Increased urination
  5. Tail tucking or increased tail wagging
  6. Behavioural changes

During this period, a female dog releases hormones and pheromones designed to attract a mate.

Male dog's response to a female in heat

When a male dog detects that a female is in heat, his instincts kick in, and he will go to great lengths to reach her. Some of the behaviours male dogs exhibit when a female dog is in heat include:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Sleep disturbances
  3. Increased marking behaviours
  4. Increased aggressive energy, especially towards other male dogs
  5. Anxiety and agitation
  6. Persistent howling and whimpering
  7. Distracted behaviour
  8. Attempts to escape or roam

These behaviours are all driven by the male dog's instinctive urge to mate with the female in heat. This instinctual drive can be so potent that even well-behaved males may display erratic behaviours, causing stress for both the dogs and their owners.

How do you stop a male dog from whining when a female is in heat?

Understanding how to stop a male dog from whining when a female is in heat can be a game-changer for pet owners. It involves a combination of distraction, training, and sometimes, professional help.

  • Start by engaging your dog in stimulating activities to divert his attention from the female. Regular exercise and interactive games can be quite effective.
  • Obedience training is also necessary to teach your dog to obey commands and behave properly.
  • You can also use calming products that can help to soothe your dog's anxiety.
  • In more extreme cases, you may need to consult with a professional dog trainer or a vet for further advice.

Remember, patience and consistency are key in this process.

How long will a male dog be attracted to a female in heat?

The attraction saga between a male dog and a female in heat is certainly an intriguing aspect of canine behaviour. So, how long will a male dog be attracted to a female in heat? The answer is quite surprising.

A male canine can sense and get attracted to a female in heat from miles away and this attraction can last as long as the female is in her cycle, which generally lasts for about two to three weeks. But remember, every dog is unique and this time frame can vary.

It's nature's fascinating way of ensuring the continuation of the species!

8 practical tips to calm a male dog when a female is in heat

Dog laying down on rug being pet by owner

Here are eight practical and effective strategies for keeping your male dog calm when a female dog is in heat.

Separate the dogs

The best way to prevent unplanned pregnancies and to keep your male dog calm is to keep the dogs separated. However, if your female dog happens to get pregnant during this time, check out our blog on info on how long is a dog pregnant for.

Depending on the size of your home, you can keep them in different rooms or on opposite sides of the house. If possible, minimise switching them between areas to avoid spreading the female's scent, which could agitate the male dog.

If you have a trusted family member or friend who can temporarily house your male dog, this could be an ideal solution. Another option is boarding your male dog at a kennel or veterinary office that offers boarding services.

Mask the female's scent

The female dog's scent in heat is a powerful attractant for male dogs. Bathing your female dog more frequently using a mild dog shampoo can help control her scent. Some pet owners also add a splash of apple cider vinegar to the bathwater, which can help mask the scent.

Additionally, keeping your house clean, especially the areas where the female dog spends time, can also help control her scent. Use vinegar or bleach for hard surfaces and pet-safe shampoo for carpets and soft surfaces.


Exercise not only helps to tire out your male dog but also provides a much-needed distraction. Regular walks, play sessions, and other forms of physical activity can help keep your male dog calm and reduce his agitation levels.

Use a menthol spray

Menthol sprays can help mask the scent of a female dog in heat, making it less potent for the male dog. You can apply these sprays on both dogs, but remember to distract them immediately after application to prevent them from licking it off. Always follow the directions on the product and consult your vet if in doubt.

Use a doggy diaper for the female dog

A doggy diaper can help collect the female dog's discharge and mask the scent. It also provides a physical barrier that can deter the male dog. Remember to change the diaper regularly to prevent infections.

Keep the dogs busy

Providing both dogs with plenty of toys can help keep them occupied and distracted. Make sure the toys are stimulating and suitable for the dog's size and breed.

Regular cleaning

Regular cleaning is crucial during a female's heat cycle. Clean up any discharge promptly and wash any bedding or fabrics that she's come into contact with using a pet-safe laundry detergent.

Consider spaying and neutering

The most effective and permanent solution to the issue of how to calm a male dog when a female is in heat is to have them spayed and neutered. This procedure not only prevents pregnancies but also reduces the risk of some types of cancers and can improve overall behaviour.

The decision to spay or neuter your dog is a significant one and should be discussed with your vet.


Dealing with a male dog when a female is in heat can be challenging. However, by following these tips and maintaining a calm, patient approach, you can help keep your male dog calm and manage this phase effectively.

Always remember, each dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It's all about understanding your dogs and trying different strategies until you find what works best for both you and your canine companions.

You can get a dog insurance quote for your furry friend through our website or by calling our dog insurance team on 0330 102 5748 for more information. It is important to note that insurance cover is for accidents and illnesses only, as routine and preventative treatments like neutering or spaying is not covered.

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