Skip to Content

How Do Male Dogs Act Around Females in Heat? Male Dog in Heat

Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon.

A male dog might have his world turned upside down when a dame of the same species lures him in with her enticing smell and movements.

Even though restlessness is more likely to happen, the behavioral shift depends on the male’s health and socialization status.

A dog with health problems might not show any interest in a female in heat.

Unsocial and naturally fearful male dogs often won’t attempt to approach a female in heat no matter how much the smell entices them.

The specific smells are so inviting to gentlemen dogs because of the presence of pheromones.

The most important pheromone females emit is called Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate.

It’s so powerful that dogs can sense it from 2-3 miles away and start the mating trip instantly.

Only after receiving the scent of a female in estrus does a whole cascade of hormonal and biochemical processes take part in the male’s body.

That’s when the circus comes to town.

You might feel like your male dog goes into some form of heat too, but what is that process really?

Can a Male Dog Go into Heat?

No, a male dog cannot go into heat. After he becomes sexually mature at around 6 months of age he can mate any time of the year with a female in heat. The dog’s arousal is much more expressed when he can smell female pheromones.

What’s the reason why many people think that males do go into heat?

Simply because they see no obvious reason why their pet has a dubious interest in different periods of the year.

As stated before, the female in heat doesn’t have to be nearby for the male to sense her.

Over time – once you get to know your dog a lot better – you will start understanding when nature calls him according to the most common symptoms and alterations in behavior.

Male Dogs in Heat Symptoms and Behavior

Male dogs have the urge to escape their homes, start urine-marking excessively, lose focus, and sometimes become aggressive whenever they want to mate.

Male Beagle mounts a female Beagle.
Photo by Sigma_S on Shutterstock

The closer the female pheromones that provoked this behavior are, the more acute the symptoms become.

Taking sudden escape routes is what most owners first notice in males that went to seek one of their many female soul mates.

Breaking out of the yard is not at all unusual for canines but should be avoided by placing a digging-proof fence inside your yard.

To get the female’s attention two or more males can behave aggressively toward each other.

While two males will rarely deal out fatal blows, you should always interrupt this behavior.

The male hormones will keep him active and thinking only about one thing.

During this time, the male spends time around the female without sleeping or eating whatsoever.

One of the few activities still interesting to him is marking as a way to gain notice from the female.

Male Dog Behavior Around a Female In Heat

With females in heat around, an aroused male dog’s behavior can be very difficult to manage.

Besides getting aggressive they can also get antsy, agitated, and won’t stop whining.

Although these behaviors are completely understandable considering a dog’s nature, for most it’s annoying or even embarrassing when other dog owners are around.

An intact male on a leash is ready to do just about anything to get to his potential bride.

That’s the time you will learn that a mild-mannered pooch can behave erratically making it impossible to control him.

Even dogs that were properly trained by a professional can suddenly stop obeying commands.

Some people get so worried their dogs are not drinking, eating, or sleeping properly they decide to get them to the vet to rule out other medical issues.

How to Stop a Male Dog From Smelling a Female in Heat?

If there is no chance to get your male dog far away from the female in heat, you can try using safe essential oils or menthol spray to mask the smell of the female pheromones which will calm your male dog down.

Be careful with essential oils, discuss with your vet if you see any reactions, and don’t go overboard.

For maximum effect, these sprays can be used on females so they don’t attract other intact males.

But it’s also useful for males because when you cover your dog in essential oils or menthol he won’t be able to catch most of the pheromones emitted by the female.

The spray can be used multiple times a day.

If you have both female and male dogs in your home, you should clean more often with vinegar, bathe your female with appropriate shampoo, or think about doggy diapers to mask the female’s scent.

If a male dog acts antsy around a female in heat, dog diapers might solve the problem.
Photo by on Shutterstock

The living area must be cleaned more often and using vinegar as a cleaning solution is a good option because it overpowers the pheromone scent.

During the 2-3 weeks of the heat cycle, increase the frequency of baths you give the female.

Use a mild shampoo and in the usual amount.

You can also add small amounts of apple cider vinegar to the bathwater for the female as well.

Sometimes adding a physical barrier like a doggy diaper on a female dog can hide the scent a bit.

But don’t get too comfortable doing only this and keep a close eye on the female.

How Do You Calm a Male Dog When a Female is in Heat?

One thing that can calm a male dog when a female is in heat is exercise. Getting him out of the house paired with mental exercise will eventually tire him out.

Exercise can get his mind off the things that make him change his behavior.

If the female making him crazy is also yours, you might not want to take both of them outside because the more time they spend together the worse it becomes.

That doesn’t mean the female shouldn’t get enough attention.

Every cycle she goes through a tough time and avoiding playing with her will provoke serious anxiety problems.

Enhancing the meal game might just help you control the male’s behavior.

Your male’s favorite yummy and healthy treat might just get his mind off the female.

Be careful when you are using diet as a way to calm a male dog.

A sudden change of diet can result in digestive issues and also your dog might become picky and refuse to eat his regular food.

While in the house, some owners decide to keep the dog separate until the female’s heat cycle is over.

However, I personally wouldn’t advise this.

Simple gates won’t do the job because you need separate wider areas for each dog.

Switching between areas is not a good idea because the deciduous female scent will drive the male crazy.

Think about your in-home constellation, especially if you have one unneutered dog before getting another.

This avoids awkward situations where you have to kennel the male for a couple of weeks (unfortunately, people do that).

Neutering and spaying are common solutions to most behavioral issues but may not have the intended effects.

When you get your female spayed she won’t go into heat.

There will be no scent to tell the male’s brain to alter his character.

However, neutering doesn’t come without serious health risks.

In males, however, even though neutering may remove most of these behaviors, not all of them are lost without a trace.

A neutered male won’t be as nearly as interested in mating as he was before or become aggressive and a general nuisance, but the habit of humping legs and even mounting other dogs may remain.

How Long Will a Male Dog Be Interested in a Female in Heat?

A normal estrus period in female dogs lasts for about 3 weeks. During this whole time, intact male dogs will be interested in the female, although she will only let males mate with her for half or less of the time.

The female becomes receptive to males around the 9th-11th day of the cycle.

That’s when the estrogen levels reach their peaks and once the eggs are released (ovulation) the levels drastically drop.

Keep a close eye on your dog to avoid spotting surprising signs of dogs going into labor a couple of months later (yeah, it happens that people notice this pretty late).

A female can have her first heat at around 6 months of age.

For some females, it takes up to 24 months for their first heat to happen.

Bigger dogs tend to experience a late first estrus compared to smaller dogs.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.


Friday 11th of March 2022

Strange question I know, but does a female in estrus attract any dog of any breed or does the smell only affect dogs of her own breed. I am having an argument with a friend over this.


Saturday 12th of March 2022

Hi Greg, it's definitely dogs of any breed :). There hasn't been any scientific proof that dogs prefer their own breed during heat (there are even differing opinions whether or not dogs can recognize other breeds at all and to what degree).

That being said, you will encounter some males more interested and others that are less interested and might conclude that it's due to the breed but it'll probably be a pure coincidence.

Cheers, Danielle