Not all female dogs are whining and carrying a toy around the house because they desperately want a baby. Your gorgeous girl might be feeling hormonal, and if she’s had a litter before it’s not impossible that she’s harking back to those lovely puppy days. But not every female dog that is whining and carrying a toy is pretending that they have a baby to care for. Or acting on a natural or misplaced maternal impulse.
Today I’ll dive into my experiences of the potential reasons for your girl’s behavior, and look at the other causes behind the signs.
- Why is my female dog whining and carrying a toy?
- Hormones and previous litters
- Dogs bred to retrieve
- Attention seeking behavior
- Chewing and teething
- Should I let my dog have puppies?
Why Is My Female Dog Whining and Carrying a Toy?
Female dogs do occasionally whine and carry toys for hormonal reasons. Or because they have learned this behavior through having had a litter of puppies in the past. But this doesn’t mean that your girl is trying to give you a sign that she wants to be a mom. Or that she is desperate for a bunch of babies of her own.
Some dogs display both of these behaviors because they have been bred for generations to pick up and carry things around. And because these instincts make them whine-levels of desperate for your attention or approval when doing so.
They might be carrying a toy because it feels nice on their sore teeth, and whining a little from discomfort. Or the two behaviors could also not be linked at all!
Before we jump into assuming some fertile desperation for puppy progeny, let’s examine all the options and see which one applies to your female dog.
Hormones and Previous Litters
Every six months to a year, depending on the female dog’s cycle, your pup will have a season. The time before this season will see her body flooded with lots of potential baby making hormones. Once the season is passed it is not unusual for your dog to show signs of false pregnancy.
During this time, your female dog is more likely to display natural instincts relating to puppy care behaviors. Especially if she has had a litter previously at some point in her life. It doesn’t literally mean she’s hoping to have puppies to care for, she’s just displaying behaviors that her body is indicating now might be a good time to carry out.
Dogs Bred to Retrieve
Dogs in the sporting category are often bred to retrieve. It’s fairly obvious if you have a Labrador Retriever, or Golden Retriever, or Flat Coated Retriever, that this instinct is a big part of their heritage. But other breeds that are also connected to field work like Spaniels and Poodles strongly show these drives too.
And what’s more, they are sometimes so keen to show you what they have collected that they will let out little excited, or exasperated, whines. They will pace up and down whining and showing you their prize fetch. Even if they are then not willing to hand it over!
Attention Seeking Behavior
When your dog picks up her toys and carries them around, does she look like the biggest cutie ever? Do you give her pets and hugs? If so, you are inadvertently rewarding her for carrying things around.
And if she whines when doing it, do you want to reassure her with even more attention? Then you might just be accidentally increasing the likelihood of the noise too.
Dogs love our attention. Even dogs bred for companionship not for work want to please their families. It’s how they became such popular pets, after all!
Chewing and Teething
If your female dog is whining and carrying a toy and she’s under a year old, then you might just be seeing evidence of teething troubles.
Chewing or holding a toy in their mouth relieves the symptoms of puppy teething. Especially if the toy has a gritty or knobbly texture, or is cold to the touch. The whining could be a mild sign of puppy teething pain, and the carrying their way of relieving it a little.
Potential Problems That Make Female Dogs Whine and Carry Toys
Occasionally dogs that carry a toy and whine are doing so out of a need for comfort from feelings of anxiety. This could be due to recent changes in the home, or because they are unwell.
If you can’t find another reason and this is a new behavior, then it’s definitely worth having a chat with your veterinarian. They will help you to discover if there is an underlying problem causing discomfort.
Should I Let My Female Dog Have Puppies?
As pet parents it’s really normal to anthropomorphize our pets a little now and then. Especially if we are proud human mommas as well! Or if we have a secret urge for a litter of puppies that might be just like our perfect fluffy girl. But this decision shouldn’t be made based on what our dog does, but on a huge range of factors. Our lifestyle, commitments and finances. And on the health and temperament of your dog. Not to mention how confident you are in finding the right stud dog and ideal homes for all the potential babies.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website