Some Dogs Will Bite if You Touch Their Puppies, Here’s Why

Be wary of any dog with puppies. She may be overly protective and might bite if she thinks her litter is in danger. Even dogs that never normally bite become hormonal and aggressive.

This is common, and she and will return to her old self eventually. Some dogs love you being around, others may bite.

When your dog gives birth, it’s a wonderful time for both you as the owner and the mother dog. Her puppies are perfect, and she dotes on them. She does everything a good mother does.

There’s one thing that bothers many owners though, especially those whose dogs have never given birth before.

Will the mother dog bite you if you reach in and touch her puppies? Will she bite anybody who comes near?

Well, the answer is a little more involved than yes or no, so in this article we will look at the answer to the questions above.


Mother Dog’s May Get Maternal Aggression

Your docile friendly dog may get angry, snarl, and even bite if you reach in and grab at one of her puppies. Don’t think your dog doesn’t like you anymore. This is known as maternal aggression. Any article that discusses whether or not your dog will bite if you touch her puppies, should talk about this subject.

Just like humans (and most other animals),mother’s brains are flooded with chemicals to help them bond with their puppies and protect them. It ensures the best chance of survival for the species. Her brain is wired for making sure her puppies survive.

If you think just how vulnerable a newborn puppy is, you will understand why their mother may get a little protective and aggressive. Their eyes are closed, they have no teeth, and they can’t feed themselves. They need her for everything.


How to Deal With a Mother of New-Born Puppies

To avoid being bitten by a dog that’s just had puppies, consider the following suggestions. Your dog doesn’t want to bite, but she’s going through a chemical-induced process that puts her puppies first.

  • Let the mother lead the way. If she is aggressive, angry, or agitated, recognize that she is communicating to you and really hopes you don’t touch her puppies. Give her space, quietness and leave her be for a while.
  • Gently stroke the puppies. If your dog is agreeable to letting you touch her puppies, be very gentle. Don’t grab at it. Gently run a finger down its back. This is particularly good to get the puppies used to humans. Only do this for a couple of minutes, and then leave them alone.

Make sure you wash your hands before you touch the puppies. Newborn puppies are susceptible to disease, and you wouldn’t want to make them sick.

  • Allow the puppies to snuggle into the mother. One thing that will aggravate the mom is constantly moving the puppies away from her, and may even result in a bite or nip. Puppies can’t regulate their temperature very well, so they will stay snuggled into her.


Some Dogs Will Bring Their Puppies to You.

This shows you the wonderful relationship between you and your dog. She is not only immensely proud of her newborns, but she trusts you and wants to share her good fortune.

This behavior goes back to their wild ancestors. Dogs want to show favor to the pack leader – you. This may mean that your dog sees you as the ultimate pack protector, so they want to show you the new additions to the group.

In this scenario, be careful regardless. There is a big difference betweenshowing you her puppies, and allowing you to reach down and pick one up. She may still get angry if you do more than look.

Create a safe environment where your dog can rest with her puppies and feel completely protected. The more she is reassured by her surroundings, the more settled in her behavior she will be.


Show Attention to the Mother Before the Puppies

If your dog has a very relaxed temperament, you may be able to pick up a puppy, but it’s better to show the mother some love first.

Be slow, cautious, and gentle.  Talk gently and directly to the mother. Let her smell your hands and get her to see you’re not a threat.

Move very carefully to her puppies and monitor her reaction. If you are in any way concerned she may not like it, don’t do it.

As puppies get older and the mother wants to wean them off her, she is less concerned about people touching them.

You know your dog, so only you can decide whether or not to try and touch her puppies.


Never Ignore a Growling Mother Dog

It may seem funny to state the obvious, but many people forget their natural instinct to be wary of a dog that’s growling when there are cute, newborn puppies there.

There are a few things to never do when with a mother dog and her newborn puppies:

  • Grab at the puppies. If you take the mother by surprise, she may become aggressive when she wouldn’t have if you had taken your time. You might make the mother think you are snatching them away so she will protect them.
  • Crowd the mom.Don’t allow multiple people to crowd around the mother and her puppies. Put yourself in her position. She will look up and see a lot of people close to her puppies and it will likely overwhelm her. This is a sure-fire way to make her overly protective.
  • Allow strangers to visit too early. Your dog may be used to your friends coming around to visit, but remember she is now full of hormones and in protective mode. If she sees numerous faces that she is not used to, she may become stressed and aggressive.


Many Dogs Are Happy For You to Touch Her Puppies

Many owners will tell you that their dog has let them touch the puppies straight away. This is actually quite common and is a testament to the relationship formed between an owner and their beloved dog.

Of course, when we are dealing with newborn puppies, we must think about hygiene and care. So, here are some rules when your mother dog allows you to touch her puppies. Follow common sense and you should avoid making the mother angry and prone to biting. She will sense any distress from her puppy.

  • Wash your hands. This is important, so worth saying again. Make sure your hands are spotlessly clean. Newborn puppies are very susceptible to bugs and germs.
  • Don’tpass the puppy to someone else. Although your dog may be quite happy for you to pick up her puppies, she will get anxious the longer you hold it. She will get worse if you pass the puppy to another person.
  • Hold the puppy by supporting its back and legs.  Make sure you support the puppies when you hold them. Newborns are very weak and need help when being held off the ground. If the mother thinks the puppy is distressed, she may move to help it which could involve a bite.


A Friendly Dog May Change After Having Puppies

You may have a dog that doesn’t mind you picking up or touching her puppies. That is a scenario we all want, but don’t assume because you have a friendly dog she will remain like that after giving birth.

If your dog is going to growl or bite after giving birth, the behavior is usually seen within hours of having her puppies.

This behavior is quite natural, so don’t take it personally. She will be tired, hormonal, and may even be in discomfort from giving birth.

To help control aggression, consider the following:

  • Talk to her in a calm and comforting voice.
  • Keep the energy in the room low-level. This means no yelling, sudden movements, or screaming children.
  • Feed her quality meat, so her stomach is full. This should help her settle down with her puppies and begin to concentrate on looking after them.
  • Praise her when she looks after her puppies. Tell her she is good when you see her wash her puppies or allow them to feed.

Within a day or two, she will settle down. As she begins to get into the rhythm of looking after newborns, she will tone her behavior down, especially as the hormones begin to fade.


Some Dogs May Bite Their Puppies

On rare occasions some dogs bite or injure their puppies as well as having a go at you. This can be for a variety of reasons, but it’s worth watching for. Be especially vigilant if your normally friendly, docile dog takes a nip or growls at you.

Some of the reasons the mother may bite at her puppies or you include:

  • Mastitis. This is a particularly painful condition where her milk-producing glands are affected by a bacterial infection. You can imagine the pain she feels when her puppies are trying to feed. This may cause her to snap at them or you.
  • A sick puppy. Dogs are very perceptive, and if the mother thinks one of them is sick, she may push it away or bite at it. If you notice one or more of the puppies are sick or not thriving, seek a vet’s advice as soon as you can.
  • Stress. The mother may be stressed and tired, causing her to lash out. This is why it is very important to provide a calm environment for her. If there is a lot of noise, the mother may fear for her puppies and be very anxious.
  • Inexperienced or disinterested. Like humans, some dogs aren’t suitable to be a mother. They may also not actually want to be a mother. She may pace around in an agitated manner, ignore her puppies or bite them and you in the process.
  • Lack of recognition. This is seen in dogs that have a cesarean section. They often don’t form a bond and don’t recognize the puppies as their own. They may become agitated and snap at them and you.


Dogs Bite When They Feel Threatened

All dogs are capable of biting, even if they have been friendly their entire lives. Sickness, nerves, and pregnancy may make them act differently fromhow they normally are.

It’s for this reason everyone in the house needs to be aware and wary of a pregnant dog, or one who has recently given birth.

It’s possible to stop a dog from biting someone post pregnancy. It just needs planning and training. Planning ways to stop your dog from biting include:

  • Make sure your dog has had basic training. Even the simplest training gives your dog experience of being around people. It teaches them to cope with the stress of the unknown.
  • Socialize your dog. This is important for all dogs, but especially so if you think your dog is going to have puppies. If the mother is socialized, her stress may just be more manageable when the hormones kick in, followed by possible aggression.
  • Discipline in a gentle way. Be firm but loving, andteach discipline. This is not to say a dog taught in this way won’t bite, but the more a dog is taught to channel their stress, the better.


How to Interact With a New Mother and Her Puppies

It’s imperative that you do all you can to prevent your dog from biting you or anyone when she’s given birth to. Remember, she is full of hormones and emotions, so she isn’t the same dog as she was before the birth.

Here are some more suggestions to consider when your dog has her newborn puppies.

  • Approach gently. Don’t allow people she doesn’t know to approach her or her puppies when you aren’t close by. Don’t allow children to be loud and boisterous close to her.
  • Caring for Puppies.Don’t approach the mom or her puppies when she is feeding herself or the puppies. She is more than capable of looking after them. You don’t need to help her if they are thriving and not sick. Her instincts to look after them are strong in normal circumstances.
  • Supervision of children.Don’t leave children alone with a dog and her newborn puppies. Children can’t help themselves and will probably touch the puppies or mom, and may not be gentle about it.
  • Vet care. If one of the puppies is sick, make sure you think about getting them seen by a vet. If the mother is emotional from hormones, a sick puppy’s stress may push her over the edge and make her prone to biting.


Mother Dogs May Get Depression

Your mother dog may actually be depressed, just like some human mothers when they give birth. It’s a sudden drop in hormone levels that causes the depression.

Your mother dog may lose interest in her puppies and become very aggressive. She may ignore them and sink into herself and snarl or growl.

Be wary of this issue and seek medical advice because you don’t want your dog to bite an unsuspecting person.  They may not even realize the dog is depressed unless they know them very well.

Anxiety and aggression often go hand-in-hand with depression.


The Bottom Line on Mother Dogs Biting

We all hope our gentle, loving dog will be a friendly and happy mom when she gives birth. The fact is no one can tell how she will react until she actually gives birth.

Due to hormones, stress and being overwhelmed, a mother may lash out and bite an unsuspecting person.  Under normal circumstances, she may be the gentlest dog ever. Post birth there is always the chance she will be overly protective.

This will be displayed by growling as a warning to you and others. It may even end up with her biting someone.

When your dog gives birth, the best thing to do is treat her as if she will bite. This just means being quiet and gentle with her. Give her space and time to bond with her puppies. Don’t assume she will just allow you to grab a puppy when you want to.

Respect her space and desire to feed her puppies. Realize she is full of hormones and may have feelings she doesn’t normally experience.

Enjoy the time with her and support her as best you can. Always ask your vet for advice, and you will likely have a wonderful experience alongside her.


Writer: Craig Taylor

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