What You Need to Learn About Pregnant Dog Nesting Behavior

When you’re caring for a pregnant dog, then you may have noticed that they nest before the delivery date. This is a totally normal behavior most female dogs go through, affecting both intact and spayed females. It’s also very interesting to watch because of how they prepare, which is different from how we do!

However, what’s the pregnant dog nesting behavior and how does the entire process go? There are different aspects of nesting to look into, which is why I did the research and took note of all the behaviors. So read on as I show you the nesting behavior pregnant dogs go through and why it happens.

What Is Nesting and Why Does It Happen?

Nesting behavior happens when your dog is preparing for her puppies’ birth, creating a literal nest. Sometimes, she would bring toys around the house, as a way to protect her unborn puppies!

Sometimes, they would stay in a secluded area and choose that as their nesting area, preparing everything there for labor. This is totally normal behavior because of an animal’s natural maternal instinct to prepare for her and her own children’s safety. After all, mothers will want to make sure they have a safe and comfortable delivery AND to care for their puppies in a good spot.

But why does it happen to dogs who aren’t even pregnant? That’s because of the hormones which trigger the instinct in female dogs. So don’t worry about it happening, all you need to do is to ensure that she has a place of her own to feel comfortable.

There are different factors dogs consider nesting areas and how they prepare for it. First, they choose a spot well-hidden from any predators, also having the warmth and shelter. Even in modern household dogs, the behavior still continues, which is why it’s best to help her prepare the nest.

That’s what whelping areas are for, a closed space your pregnant dog will stay in and claim as her own. If ever your dog chooses an unsafe area, make sure that you take her out on a leash. This encourages her to build her nest inside.

I’ll be showing you more of the exact nesting behavior in the next section.

The Pregnant Dog Nesting Behavior

Here are the different types of behavior which can change when your pregnant dog begins preparing her nest:

Preparing the Area

A pregnant dog will start looking for an area, usually dark and secluded as a way to hide. Once she chooses the area, she’ll begin cleaning it and keeping it as tidy as possible. In fact, your dog won’t use the bathroom around the area!

You’ll notice that she’ll begin to rip out any newspaper, blankets, and tear other things she can use as bedding. Furthermore, she’ll bring some of her toys as well, which keeps her comfortable. It’s also what your dog sees as impotent ties that help her protect her puppies and keep them comfortable.

See also:

»Can I Worm My Pregnant Dog? The Facts You Need to Know
»When Do You X-Ray a Pregnant Dog? All About X-Rays and Pregnancy


You may have noticed that your dog begins to groom and lick herself excessively, to the point it’s worrying. However, this is totally normal behavior and shows that she’s preparing for her due date.

Usually, she would lick her vulva excessively a day or shorter before her due date. However, there are pregnant dogs who also lick and groom themselves a lot a week before it as well. This is just a normal process of them staying clean before labor.

It’s also a way to release the feelings of anticipation before the due date or to release stress.

Happy pregnant welsh corgi pembroke female
Happy pregnant welsh corgi pembroke female in a wooden whelping box expecting puppies.

Other Behaviors

Besides preparing her nesting area and grooming more, there are other nesting behaviors your pregnant dog might do, too. Usually, she would pace and seem uneasy, feeling anxiety before she’s due. Besides this, she’ll want to be alone, looking for privacy and staying away from other people and animals.

Expect her to be at her whelping box most of the time, showing defensiveness or aggression sometimes. Not to worry though, as she’s just preparing to give birth and it’s a natural instinct to seek shelter for herself only. Just make sure that you’re also there in case she needs any assistance.

Check out this interesting video on how it’s like for a pregnant dog to show their nesting behavior:

Wrapping It Up

If your female dog begins to show different signs of nesting behavior, that’s totally normal. As long as you’ve already prepared the whelping box and continue to care for her throughout the pregnancy, then there’s nothing to worry about. Just continue to care for her as you should until the labor date.

I hope my article on the pregnant dog nesting behavior gave you an idea on how they go through pregnancy. So start learning more about a dog’s pregnancy to better care for them now.

1 thought on “What You Need to Learn About Pregnant Dog Nesting Behavior”

  1. we think our australian shepherd is pregnant she has gone under our deck area and keeps wanting to sleep there( normally she is in house all night) she has not eaten a couple days always has acess to water comes in briefly to eat then whines to go back outside and immediately goes under deck my concern is the cold and only a dirt floor to lie in if she is not really pregnant is this strange behavior normal her nipples also seen extra large.


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