There’s nothing cuter than puppies. If your dog has just given birth to puppies, you are likely in awe. It’s a magical event that creates a sense of pride in your dog and pups. However, it is also a stressful time for mother and owner. 

Why does my dog hide her puppies?

Puppies are born completely helpless, just like human babies. Like human mothers, dogs will usually devote all their energy and focus to caring for their babies in the early stage after delivery. Puppies can’t see or hear when they are born, and are completely dependent on their mother. It’s natural for the mother to want to protect her pups. 

Instinct

Dogs have an instinct to protect their young, just as humans do. In the wild, a mother will hide her puppies to keep them safe from predators. Shortly after birth, the mother and the pups are at the most vulnerable. Because they are an easy target for predators, it’s important for the mother to hide her pups well. In the wild, dogs will give birth in one area, and then move the pups to another area as soon as they are able. This is because animals can be attracted to the blood from giving birth. The mother will eat the sacs and after birth, but a scent will still linger. She may switch hiding places periodically as well. 

Denning

In the wild, mothers will dig a hole known as a den a few weeks before birth. This is where they will whelp and spend the next few weeks with the pups. Domesticated mothers still have this denning instinct, and it can lead them to move their pups or seek out a more denlike area. 

Protection

Even though your dog and her pups are not in physical danger, this instinct can be very strong. The mother may instinctively hide her puppies in an effort to protect them. Some dogs will hide their pups but allow their owner access to them. Others will hide them from everyone, including their owner. It’s important to know that this isn’t a reflection on their trust in you. It’s simply their instinct to keep the pups safe by keeping them hidden. 

Privacy

Some mothers just want privacy with their pups. If you or others in your home visit too often, the mother may move the pups to avoid having people around. If she moves the pups frequently or doesn’t welcome your visists, this could be why she is moving the puppies. 

Temperature

Mother and pups need an optimal temperature. If the area where they are is too hot or cold, they may move the pups to a more comfortable area. Even a few degrees hotter or cooler can make a big difference for the comfort of your dog. 

Noise

Your dog will likely prefer a quiet environment after giving birth. If the area where the pups are is too loud or busy, she may move them to a quieter area. Sound often goes hand in hand with privacy, but not always. She may be ok with occasional visitors, but not ok with loud noises. 

Lonely

Some dogs want your presence nearby after they have puppies. They may get lonely if their whelping area is far away from the rest of the house. This is more common in dogs that are generally clingy or need a lot of love and attention. 

What should I do about my dog hiding her puppies?

The first thing you should do is monitor your dog for signs of a medical issue. If you don’t see any behavior or physical symptoms out of the ordinary, follow these steps. 

Consider the Location

If your dog is attempting to move her puppies, there is a reason for it. Considering the differences between the area where the puppies were and where she moved them to can help determine why. Is the area more private? Is it nearer to you? Is it hotter or colder? 

Change the Environment

If your dog seems to want privacy, try to avoid disturbing her with the pups. Give her a private area where she won’t be disturbed. As the owner, it’s important that you monitor mom and pups, but keep any unnecessary visitors out. You’ll also want to make the area as quiet as possible. If they seem to prefer an area that is cooler or hotter, adjust the thermostat. Adding a blanket to the top of the whelping box can make some dogs feel safer. It may feel more like the den a mom would use to whelp in the wild.

When You Don’t Know Why She’s Moving Them

Of course, the reason can’t always be determined. It could be that she just doesn’t feel safe in the other area. If the puppies are in a safe place where they are, it’s best to leave them. If they are in an area that’s unsafe or inconvenient, move them back to their original location. 

Why does my dog bury her puppies?

There are a few clues as to why your dog is burying her puppies. Consider where she is burying them and her overall behavior with the pups. In most cases, it’s part of the mother’s natural instincts. 

Denning

The denning instinct can cause a dog to bury her puppies. This usually occurs inside the home. Your dog may bury her puppies in a blanket, or dig around the house in an effort to find a place to bury them. This behavior is different from burying puppies in the dirt, and is a sign that she is caring for the pups. 

Stillborn or Weak

If a pup is stillborn, the mother will often bury them. The dog will usually dig a hole in the dirt and bury the pup. In the wild, this helps keep predators and parasites away from the litter. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but it is part of the natural order of things. 

A mother may also bury a pup she believes is too sick or weak to survive. Resources are limited in the wild, and mothers will instinctively focus energy and milk on the pups that are likely to survive. This ensures that some pups live. 

Rejection

Rejection is rare, but it does happen. It’s more common with young mothers and those who have had a c section. The mother doesn’t properly bond with the pups. It’s believed that the mother doesn’t recognize the pups as hers. This causes her to behave in ways opposite of the natural maternal instincts. 

How do you know if a dog has rejected her puppies?

There are signs that a mother has rejected her pups. If you recognize it early, you can often save the pups by caring for them yourself. 

Grooming

After the puppies are born, the mother will spend a lot of time licking them. There are a few reasons for this. It keeps them clean and stimulates their nervous system. It also creates a strong bond between mother and puppies. The mother uses licking to help guide her pups to her belly as well. 

If the mother isn’t actively licking the pups after birth, it can be an early sign of rejection. The mother may also forgo licking if she is unwell after birth, so a vet check-up is recommended. It’s also possible for a mother to reject one or more puppies, but not all. In this case, the rejected pups will not be well groomed like their littermates. 

Not Being Near Puppies

Most mothers will barely leave their pups in the first 24 hours after birth. For the first few weeks, expect the mother to eat and use the bathroom and go back to the puppies. If the mother is spending a lot of time away from the pups, this is a sign of rejection. The mother may also move the puppies away from her. 

Frequent Crying

Young puppies only whine when they are hungry or uncomfortable. If they are well cared for, you won’t hear them crying for a long period of time. If you hear frequent crying, it’s likely that they aren’t being fed properly. This only applies to the first few weeks of life. As pups get older, they become more vocal and opinionated. They can whine for many reasons. 

Why Rejection Occurs

Rejection can occur because the mother doesn’t recognize the pups as being hers. Some dogs just lack maternal instinct, and have little desire to care for puppies. It’s possible that the hormones that promote closeness between mother and pups are lacking. 

A mother that is severely stressed or ill will also reject her pups. In this case, the mother is rejecting the puppies in an attempt to survive herself. This goes back to instinct in the wild, where survival depends on being able to find food. 

What to Do About Rejection

If the puppies are being fed and look healthy, monitor the situation closely. Have the mother checked by a vet to see if illness or injury could be the cause. If you suspect it’s stress-related, your vet can prescribe a medication to help calm the mother. 

If your dog is showing no signs of caring for the pups or is being aggressive towards them, you’ll need to step in. Once your dog has rejected her pups, there’s little you can do to change her mind. You’ll have to accept that she has refused responsibility for the puppies.

This means you will need to be their caretaker. Your vet can provide a suitable formula and bottles. They’ll need to be fed on a schedule and groomed frequently. 

Why does my dog keep moving her puppies?

In most cases, your dog is moving her puppies because of instinct or a problem with the environment where the puppies are. The most common reason is because she doesn’t feel the puppies are safe, so she keeps moving them to keep them hidden and safe. Other causes include temperature, a desire for privacy, or loneliness. 

If your dog keeps moving the puppies and you move them back, it could also be her personality. She may simply want things her way, especially when it comes to her babies. If it’s safe for the puppies, allow her to decide where to put them. 

In addition to the reasons listed earlier, these are possible causes. 

Eclampsia 

Eclampsia is also known as milk fever. This occurs when the mother doesn’t have enough calcium. Signs of eclampsia include weakness, rapid heavy breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors. It can also cause behavioral changes, disorientation, and restlessness. This can cause your dog to repeatedly move her puppies because she is restless and isn’t thinking clearly. 

Soiled Area

Mothers want a clean area for their babies. If the area is soiled, she may move the pups to a cleaner area. If you notice she wants to move them when the area gets soiled, clean the area more often. You may want to use an enzyme cleaner to remove the smell of pee and poop from the area as well. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.