Dog Nesting - All You Need To Know

Dog Nesting - All You Need To Know

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Jun 09 2023


Seeing your dog snuggle with your blankets can be one of the heartwarming moments you will see as a dog owner. This behavior is usually called nesting, and many dog owners need to realize what this type of dog behavior means.

Nesting in dogs is normal behavior, and your dog could start burrowing into a blanket because of the cold. In most cases, your female dog will start nesting if she is pregnant or has a false pregnancy. These are the two most obvious and common reasons you can catch your dog nesting. There are a few more reasons that can be behind this behavior, and we will also mention them later. Let's take a look at what exactly nesting is?

What is nesting?

When the dog is ready to deliver her puppies in the wild, she will create a safe and warm place for her puppies. This behavior is written in dogs' genes, which they will naturally do whenever they are about to deliver puppies.

Nesting is completely normal behavior, and many dog owners have reported that their female dogs started to nest at some point in their life, although they were not pregnant.

The two most common reasons for nesting in dogs include

  1. Pregnancy
  2. False pregnancy

dog nesting

However, there could be a situation where your dog will start to nest because of different reasons, some of which include

  1. Injuries – dogs can nest when they are hurt to heal and protect themselves. By creating a nest, they will create a safe place to be in peace and deal with their injury.
  2. Hypothyroidism – this condition can mess up your dog's hormones and cause false pregnancy. You must realize all the symptoms of hypothyroidism to help your dog and prevent false pregnancy. Here you can read more about hypothyroidism.
  3. Environment change – in the modern world, more and more dogs are affected by environmental changes. These changes don't necessarily have to be major, but in most cases, they will happen if you move to a new place, if you bring your new pet home, or have a baby.
  4. Some underlying health problems: Certain health problems affecting your dog could cause nesting. They include mastitis, anxiety, or liver dysfunction. Make sure to notice symptoms that indicate your dog has some underlying health condition and seek a vet's help.

No matter what is the reason behind your dog nesting, our advice would be to contact your vet and schedule a meeting. That way, you can be sure that you will know the reason behind this behavior and that your dog will receive proper treatment.

Dog nesting signs

When dogs start to nest, they can show different behaviors. Not all dogs will start burrowing into a blanket. To fully understand dog nesting and to notice it right away, you will have to know all the possible things and behavior your dog could start to show.

Signs your dog is nesting include

  • Burrowing
  • Collecting toys
  • Shredding blankets
  • Excessive grooming
  • Defending certain parts of a house (the place where the nest is)
  • Dragging blankets or pillows to a new spot

dog collecting toys

Some dogs will only show one or few signs of nesting, while others can also show all the mentioned signs depending on how hard the hormones hit your female dog.

What should you do if your dog starts to nest?

The first and best thing you can do if you notice your dog starting to nest is to contact your vet and schedule a meeting. Firstly you will have to figure out if your dog is pregnant or not. If she is not pregnant, you and your vet will have to find the reason behind the dog nesting. In most cases, false pregnancy will be the reason behind this.

Your vet will instruct you about your next moves according to your dog, her medical history, and her general health. Our advice would be to listen to your vet.

IMPORTANT: Many dog owners often time make one common mistake when they notice their dog nesting, and that is to give their dogs extra attention, provide them with more toys, etc., and this is a completely wrong approach. With this approach, you are only encouraging this behavior; if you proceed with it, your dog's false pregnancy will last longer. The best thing you can do is ignore your dog and not give her additional attention.

dog and toy

What to do if your dog is pregnant?

If you are a breeder, then in most cases, your dog's pregnancy was planned. You are looking forward to your puppies and caring for them.

Problems can arise if your dog has an unwanted pregnancy, meaning that you own a female dog and you didn't fully protect her during the heat process, and she managed to mate with some male dog. In this situation, you will have to figure out how to take care of your puppies while providing your female dog with everything she needs.

As an inexperienced dog owner who is expecting puppies, the best thing you can do is to seek advice from your vet and let him guide you through the pregnancy process. That way, you can be sure that your female dog will get all the support she needs.

To learn more about dog pregnancy, all the signs, and what the best preparation is, you can read this article - Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Diagnosis & Preparation

How to deal with false pregnancy?

A recent study has shown that 50% of unsprayed female dogs will experience false pregnancy in their lifetime. Also, if your dog experiences false pregnancy, you can expect it to have it after every heat cycle.

False pregnancy is normal in dogs; your dog will behave the same way a pregnant dog would, just without delivering the puppies. You must support your dog to finish the false pregnancy cycle faster.


In this situation, your vet could guide you on your next steps. Until then, you can read more about false pregnancy in dogs here - False Pregnancy in Dogs

Can I prevent dog nesting?

To prevent unwanted and false pregnancy, the only and best thing you can do is sterilize your female dog. By sterilizing your dog, you can be sure that nesting will not appear, and you will not have to worry about unwanted pregnancy.

If you are not planning to breed your female dog, we suggest that you sterilize her since it will remove health issues and further complications later in her life. It is a well-known fact that by sterilizing, you can prevent uterine infections and breast tumors in your female dog. Talk to your vet and get his opinion on this topic.

World Dog Finder team

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