I love having dogs! They are a huge plus to just about every part of my life. They even entertain my kids, who think our dogs are cute and fun to run around with. I personally like to go on hikes with them and love the extra sense of security they provide by alerting us to people coming up to the house.
There are of course a few downfalls to having dogs. Like what to do with their waste when you don’t have a good way to dispose of it. Overall though, owning dogs is a gratifying experience.
When we have dogs we need to be aware of their wants and needs. It’s part of the bargain we make when we adopt them. They scratch our backs and we’ll (sometimes literally) scratch theirs. Part of that is knowing which of their behaviors are okay and which behaviors indicate something bad is going on. You need to be ready to help your buddy and feel at ease when she’s just being silly and making you laugh.
So, what about moving puppies around? Why does my dog keep moving her puppies? The quick and easy answer is that it all comes down to instinct and usually to protect her pups. However, the specifics can vary wildly and sometimes are even counter to each other!
Anyone with kids knows that you’ll do anything to protect them. It’s instinct and what mother nature is driving you to do. Your dog is no different, but why, if she is in the comfort of your home does she feel the need to move her puppies for protection? Some situations can make your dog feel uncomfortable or uneasy and then those instincts kick in (even the irrelevant instincts) that still drive your sweet good girl. Really, it all comes down to the current area doesn’t feel safe enough for your dog.
Sure, your house is predator free, but that doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t have an instinct to make sure her puppies aren’t in the safest spot possible. If she’s nervous (her instincts are kicking in), your dog isn’t going to want her puppies in a spot where they are vulnerable to a predator. She’s going to want to move them somewhere she feels is safer.
You know…just in case!
Too Much Action
Maybe your best friend couldn’t quite make it to her ideal spot when she gave birth to her pups. She ended up having her pups in a spot with too much household traffic. Whether it’s you, your family, or other animals in or near your house moving around, something is making her feel like her puppies aren’t quite safe. So, she’s moving them in an attempt to find a spot where your bigger dog won’t accidentally step on them, or it’s quieter or in some other way better due to less activity.
Getting Away From Hassles
Sometimes we have the best of intentions that turn into annoyances or worse for our pets. If you’re handling your dog’s new pups too much for her liking or letting your kids play with them or in some other way someone or something in the house is making her uneasy she is going to do something about it. One likely solution is that she’ll move her puppies until she finds a safe spot where they aren’t hassled.
After giving birth and all the discomfort that can entail, your dog is entitled to and will likely seek out a comfortable spot for her and her puppies to be. You may think you’ve prepared the ultimate area for your dog to nurse her puppies but there could be something off about it. Of course, your best friend, being the sweet dog that she is, will move her puppies to where she thinks they and she will be more comfortable.
Too hot? Too cold? It doesn’t matter which it is! If your dog thinks her pups should be in a better temperature, she’s going to move them. And if she’s wrong about the new location, she’s going to move them again until she finds what she is looking for. Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you to turn the thermostat up or down, but by looking at where she’s moving her pups to, you can probably get a good idea of what temperature she’s after.
This problem is pretty similar to temperature, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. If your dog isn’t happy with the bedding (or lack thereof) she’s going to look for something better. She may end up dragging your clothes, a blanket, or something else over to where her puppies are or she could move entirely to line her new spot.
Being able to relax is something every new mom needs. But when you’re a dog, it can be tough to find the time or space to just kick back and relax. If your dog is constantly being bothered or she doesn’t have a comfortable spot to lie down, she may move her pups until she finds a place where she can rest easy.
Quieter or Noisier
Remember when I said there could be reasons your dog moves her puppies around that are counter to each other? Well, this is one of them. Your dog could want the quietest spot in the house. Maybe that formal living room (that no one was allowed to be in) at your grandparent’s house would be ideal for her. On the other hand, some dogs need routine, no matter what the situation is.
If you’ve done a good job of making your dog feel comfortable and she knows her puppies will be safe, your dog might want to move her puppies to wherever she used to spend the most time; even if that is in the middle of the TV room. As long as her other needs and wants are being met, don’t be surprised if your dog moves her puppies back to where she normally is.
Dogs aren’t known to be the cleanest pets around, but they sure do try. And when they have something important to them, like puppies, they want to make sure they are in a clean environment. It could be that after she’s had her puppies in a certain spot for a while, your dog doesn’t think it is clean enough for her babies anymore.
The area could’ve been soiled from the birthing process or the puppies themselves have made it gross. It also isn’t unheard of for mother dogs to not let their newborns out of their sight for a while, even if that means going potty inside.
This is what we dog owners hope to not see, although it does happen. Pay attention to where your dog is moving her puppies. Are they all moved to the same location? Did your dog move herself to the new ‘den’ too? If so then rejection isn’t very likely. If you suspect your dog is rejecting one or all of her puppies you’ll need to research the actions that are giving you that feeling or call your vet.
What Should I Do About My Dog That Keeps Moving Her Puppies?
If you haven’t done so already, take the time to figure out why your dog is moving her puppies. Hopefully, you were able to figure it out by reading everything above and observing your dog. Now that you know why, read through the following solutions and choose which will work best in your situation.
If you don’t have a whelping box for your dog to have her puppies in, now is the time to get or build one. A whelping box is simply a large crate or pen that has high sides and bedding for comfort. You can find manufactured whelping boxes online or at your local pet store or you can make your own.
The purpose of the whelping box is to give your dog a safe place to have her puppies where she can control the environment. This way you and she can make sure her puppies are safe, the bedding is comfortable, and she can relax out of the way.
Providing Your Dog With a Safe Space
Even if you have a whelping box, your dog may want to move her puppies to a different location. If that’s the case, try to give her a safe space where she can do so. This could be a room that you block off with baby gates or even just an area outside that is covered and fenced.
The key is to make sure the space is safe for both your dog and her puppies. It should be free of hazards and have everything they need like food, water, and bedding.
Making Sure Your Dog Has What She Needs
As I said before, there are certain needs that your dog has that could be causing her to move her puppies around. The best way to stop her from moving them is to make sure those needs are being met.
For example, if she is moving them because she is looking for a quiet place, try to keep the noise down in your home. If she is moving them because she wants to be left alone, make sure you aren’t bothering her too much.
Make Sure Her New Space Is Actually Safe
Sometimes what looks to be safe and secure to your dog for both herself and her puppies might not be; under your bed for example. If you use the space under your bed to store totes and boxes, a small opening might appear to be a very cozy area for your dog to move her puppies. However, with all the nooks and crannies, it could be a dangerous place for them to be.
The same goes for any other small openings or spaces in your home. Make sure they are blocked off so your dog can’t get to them.
Your Dog Rejected Her Puppies
Rejection is when a mother dog does not want anything to do with her puppies and may even try to harm them. If you think your dog is rejecting her puppies, it’s important to seek professional help right away as it could put the puppies’ lives in danger.
Should I Move My Dog And Her Puppies Back?
The answer depends on the situation but unless your dog or her puppies are in danger then it is going to be better for you to accommodate the move rather than to move them back.
Remember, your dog is trying to meet a need and by moving them back you could be putting them in danger or making the problem worse.
Conclusion: Why Do Dogs Move Their Puppies Around?
If your dog starts moving her puppies around and you can’t figure out why then take a step back and look at the bigger picture. There could be any number of reasons she’s doing it and it’s important to take the time to figure out why before taking any action. Once you know why she is moving them, there are steps you can take to help prevent it from happening again.
The most important thing is to make sure your dog and her puppies are safe and have everything they need. If you think your dog is rejecting her puppies, seek professional help right away.
The bottom line is to put yourself in your dog’s shoes and try to see things from her perspective. Once you do that, it’ll be easier to figure out what she needs and how to stop her from continuously moving her puppies.