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How To Exercise & Walk a Dog in Heat

Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Published on
Sunday 27 December 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
how to exercise and walk a dog in heat
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Your dog is in heat, and like any other dog, she still wants to go for her daily walk. But is it safe to walk your dog when she is in heat? What are the risks involved in walking her? These are common questions asked by many dog owners who want to know how to exercise a dog in heat.

Dogs in heat need mental stimulation, sometimes even more so than when they are not in heat. Some dogs in heat become highly energetic and need outlets for this boost of energy. Clicker training, catch, agility and closely supervised walks are just a few ways for owners to help their hyped-up hound.

Should Dogs Exercise When in Heat?

Even when she is in heat, your dog should be exercised to prevent boredom and depression. This is especially important for dogs who are used to being exercised often or have lots of energy to use up. However, the way that you exercise your dog should be modified for her safety. For example, you could focus more on indoor exercise until her cycle is complete. Try clicker training, a game of catch, or even agility training at home to keep her mentally stimulated.

How do You Walk a Dog in Heat?

When your dog is in heat, never walk her off the leash. This helps to ensure not only her safety, but yours, and other dogs’ too. If you choose to walk your dog in heat in public, always keep her close to you and be mindful of other dogs who are walking nearby. You must take care to avoid intact male dogs whilst walking. This is because your female dog is constantly giving off pheromones that attract intact male dogs. Male dogs can detect these pheromones for miles, and will travel as far as they must to reach your female. Even male dogs on leashes may break free from their owners to pursue your dog in heat.

To reduce the pheromone trail as much as possible, it’s best to take your dog somewhere by car. If possible, drive half a mile away or more to walk your dog in heat to reduce the pheromone trail left behind.

What Are The Stages of a Dog in Heat?

The dog estrous cycle is made up of four stages. These are the proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. The proestrus is the most obvious stage, while the other stages are more subtle.

Proestrus lasts for nine days on average but can reach 27 days. This is the most noticeable part of the estrous cycle. Your dog may produce blood-tinged discharge and her vulva will be swollen. At this time, your dog will not be receptive to any male’s advances. Next is the estrus stage, ranging from four to 24 days in length. This period is when your dog is fertile and receptive to mating attempts. In diestrus, your dog is no longer receptive to males. This stage lasts for two months. Her estrogen levels stay low, while her progesterone levels peak three to four weeks after the beginning of diestrus. Finally, anestrus is the time between diestrus and the next proestrus. This stage lasts for four months or longer.

Is it Safe for a Dog to Exercise During Her Heat Cycle?

Your dog’s safety during her heat cycle is ultimately your responsibility. If you walk your dog in public, you must keep her on a leash and close to you at all times. You should also keep a strict lookout for male dogs during the walk and to be mindful of other dog walkers who might be nearby. If an intact male dog walks by, it’s possible for him to break free from his owner to pursue your dog in heat. This puts not only you and your dog in danger but the other dog’s owner at risk as well if they need to chase after their dog. Even if you walk in an area with few dogs, it’s still best to keep your dog on a leash in case she escapes to find a male. Accidents can and do happen, so never take chances.

Some owners prefer to exercise their dog at home whilst she is in heat. If you let your dog into a secure yard, it’s still best to monitor her the whole time. Male dogs can travel for miles in search of a female and are known to break into yards to get to receptive females.

dogs exercising when in heat
Exercising will help prevent your dog from getting depression while she is in heat.

How to Exercise a Female Dog in Heat?

Every dog is different, and all dogs react differently at the start of their estrous cycle. Some dogs exhibit a sudden change in personality and energy levels. Others become more reserved and defensive. If your dog reacts in the former way, it doesn’t hurt to give her extra exercise during this confusing and difficult time. We suggest using clicker training, a classic game of catch, or perhaps even agility training as outlets for her increased energy.

Clicker Training

You can begin clicker training your dog at any age, not just when your dog is a puppy! Clicker training is a great way to teach your pooch new things in a positive way, making learning fun for both of you. You should always begin clicker training by making a clear association between the sound of the clicker and a tasty treat – click, and then give the reward. If your dog is one of the rare individuals who isn’t food-motivated, try giving a different reward with the click, such as throwing a favorite toy. Once this click-reward association is made you can move on to new skills.

Playing Catch

Teaching your dog to play catch is very rewarding and fun for both parties. It’s best to begin by teaching your dog to catch treats – if you throw a toy that hits them, it could turn them off catching for good. Once your pooch is confident catching treats, upgrade to throwing toys. Start with lightweight toys to prevent any injuries, such as tennis balls and cloth discs. It helps to reward your dog with a treat if they catch the toy, and then once they understand that they get a reward for catching, encourage your dog to bring the toy back to you and give the reward.

Agility Training

You’ve probably seen competitive agility on television, or perhaps even watched it at a dog show. Dog agility is a popular canine sport because it’s challenging and exciting for dogs and owners alike. Of course, agility classes are a great way to begin training. However, your dog in heat is better off away from other dogs until her cycle is over. Fortunately, there is a lot of work you can do together at home.

An easy agility exercise to teach at home is the spin. You can teach this by holding a treat to the top of your dog’s nose, and then slowly moving your hand around in the direction you want your dog to go. It helps to say out loud which direction you’re going to separate the left and right commands.

How to Walk A Dog in Her Heat Cycle?

Your dog in heat needs to have their walks like any other dog. If you have a secure back yard or an exercise pen to play with your dog, it helps to exercise her where it’s safe. Be sure to supervise your dog at all times when she is outside, even if your back yard seems secure. If this is not enough, or you don’t have these resources, it’s important for you to take safety precautions when walking your dog in public.

Have Her on a Leash

The most important rule when walking your dog in heat is to always use a leash. You must always keep her on a leash, no matter where you take her. Whether it’s down the road, out in the country, or in a park, staying on a leash is important for ensuring her safety. Not only this, but you will need complete control of your dog if she sees and wants to approach a male whilst outside.

Avoid Male Dogs

Whilst you walk your dog, she will be giving off pheromones that advertise the fact that she is in season. This will attract any unneutered dog in the surrounding vicinity. If a male dog is allowed to, he will follow your dog’s pheromone trail in hopes of mating with her. Whilst walking, stay clear of other dogs to help to prevent disaster, especially males who are off-leash in public. Even males who are on leashes can break free from their owners to follow your dog, so always be mindful of other dogs when out in public.

Cover the Tracks

If you live in an area with a lot of free-roaming or off-leash dogs, it’s important to try to cover your female dog’s tracks. Male dogs can be very determined and may follow your own dog back to your front door. Chances are, they could follow you home and wait outside your home for your dog to come outside. So, if possible, put your dog in a car and drive half a mile away or more to walk your dog in heat to reduce the pheromone trail left behind.

Exercising a dog in heat is a daunting but necessary part of ownership if you decide to keep your dog intact. Finding out how to exercise a dog in heat is essential for your dog’s safety. You must keep your dog on a leash, stay away from other dogs, and attempt to cover her tracks if possible.

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