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Ladies, when you are on your period, does your dog’s behavior change? Perhaps they become clingier than normal and are always touching you, or trying to lay on you. Or the opposite, they are avoiding you and you feel like maybe your dog is tired of you and no longer loves you.
Our dogs are incredibly sensitive to the hormonal and mood shifts that many women experience when they are on their period, and this might cause more alarming behavioral shifts, like aggression.
So why does your dog become aggressive when you are on your period?
Smelling your hormonal changes and your period blood during menstruation can cause strange behavioral changes in many dogs including aggression. And if it is not your smell, your dog could be picking up on your stress, mood, or pain caused by your period.
According to veterinarians Debra Horwitz and Gary Landsberg, there are several different kinds of aggression in the world of canine behavior. The list includes:
- Conflict-related aggression
- Play-related aggression
- Possessive Aggression
- Protective and territorial aggression
- Predatory aggression
- Pain-related aggression
- Redirected aggression
Do you recognize one of these types of aggression in your dog and does it get worse when you are on your period?
Before we explore what it is about you being on your period that makes your dog aggressive, let’s rule out any other causes of aggression and how it might be related to your menstruation.
Behaviors like aggression might have their roots in one issue, but can be amplified by external factors when you are on your period; like environmental changes, your mood, hormones, or smell overloads.
Common Causes Of Dog Aggression
Many reasons might cause a dog to become aggressive, reactive, or protective. Some dogs might have had little to no socialization as a puppy, had a traumatic event happen, or genetics could play into it. I have not included every reason dogs become aggressive, but here are some of the top culprits.
Lack of Socialization
Puppies can be a lot of work, and anyone who has had a puppy knows how much work you need to put into socializing your new young best friend. A good breeder will have already started socializing your puppy, but you will need to continue introducing them to new sounds, sites, smells, experiences, other dogs, and people.
Good socialization will help your puppy mature into a confident adult who knows how to handle sudden changes in their environment. Many dogs become aggressive simply because they never learned how to deal with the stress of change because of a lack of socialization.
Dogs are emotional animals with a lot of empathy, so it should not come as a huge surprise that dogs can suffer from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder like humans. PTSD symptoms in dogs include panic, panting, becoming extra clingy, and random aggression.
If you have a rescue dog, it is heartbreaking that you may never know what happened in their past to cause PTSD-related aggression.
It is estimated that 5% of working dogs from war zones suffer from PTSD. However, a death in the family, violence towards them or someone else, natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes, or loud noises can also trigger PTSD in dogs.
However, if are not properly socialized or trained, working breeds like German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Border Collies, Akitas, and other breeds that like having a job have the potential to become aggressive.
These smart dogs are often extra sensitive and need a job as well as lots of training and socializing.
Why Is My Dog Aggressive On My Period?
You might notice your dog offering many strange behaviors changes when you are on your period, like humping you. However, if your dog already tends to be aggressive, perhaps for one of the reasons listed above, menstruating might make it worse.
Their sensitive noses can not only sense your hormonal changes, but they can smell the blood, and sense your mood changes.
Dogs can usually tell if you are on your period and if you are susceptible to mood swings, cramps, or stress during your period, it could make a dog that is already prone to aggression worse. According to Victoria Stilwell’s Positively Blog, “aggression is deeply rooted in a dog’s instinctual need for safety.”
So if your period causes hormonal changes or behavioral changes in yourself, it could also contribute to random changes in your dog’s behavior, like aggression.
Reason 1. Your Dog Is Reacting To Your Hormonal Changes
Dogs’ sense of smell is up to 10,000 times better than our sense of smell. It is how they find a mate, how they know the age of other dogs and even tell the gender of humans. Their nose also senses the slightest hormonal or pheromone changes in humans, including when you are on your period.
While women are not (normally) fertile when they are on their period, your dog is sensitive to the smell which could cause them to react aggressively. The chemical balance of hormones women release when menstruating is different than a dog going through an Estrous Cycle, but are similar enough that it could trigger aggressive behavior.
Your hormonal changes make you smell differently during menstruation, causing some dogs to become protective of you. Like male dogs who become aggressive towards other dogs when there is a nearby female dog in heat, your dog wants to keep you safe from other dogs during your period.
Furthermore, your hormones could make you seem like a threat to female dogs. Female dogs are often aggressive to younger female dogs when they are going through a heat cycle, and they could redirect that aggression toward you or other dogs when you are on your period.
Reason 2. The Smell of Blood Concerns Your Dog
While humans may be squeamish about it, anyone whose high-prey drive dog has caught a squirrel or bird knows that dogs do not mind blood, and that includes period blood.
The smell of your period blood might be enough to make a dog who is easily overwhelmed by environmental changes become aggressive. Many dogs are protectors, especially when it comes to other animals, and if they are concerned about you being hurt, it could kick their aggression into overdrive.
If you have a dog who is a natural guard dog because of genetics, you might notice extreme protectiveness in the form of territorial aggression when you are on your period. They are concerned about you and want to protect you.
In a multi-dog household, you could observe redirected aggression. Your dog’s attempts at aggression are thwarted and they lash out against whatever is closest to them, which could be another dog, animal, or a person.
Reason 3. The Smell of Blood Instigates A Scavenger Instinct In Your Dog
I don’t know about you, but I have had to invest in good, lidded trashcans for my bathrooms because two of my dogs are terrible scavengers. Many dogs are bad about getting into the trash, but (with my dogs at least) it is the worse when they can smell used tampons and pads.
Resource guarding, or possessive aggression, is a common behavior in dogs, especially rescue dogs who might have had to fight for resources in the past. Dogs who resource guard valuable resources like food, toys, furniture, and people, are known for becoming aggressive with other dogs or sometimes with their owner.
Your used menstrual products are definitely a valuable resource and could set off resource-guarding and aggression.
If your dog does eat a tampon or pad, please get in touch with your veterinarian as soon as possible!
Reason 4. It’s Not You, It’s Me
It is no secret that many women have mood swings and painful cramps during their period. In extreme cases, women who suffer from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), experience anxiety, crying spells, anger, irritability, as well as cramps, nausea, and headaches.
What people do not think about it is these mood swings can confuse, scare, and stress your dog out making them act out. It has been scientifically proven that dogs and humans share the same kind of “Oxtocin-gaze positive loop” that a human mother and infant have. This is why you feel so connected to your dog, and they bond so strongly with you.
This connection between you and your dog is why they pick up on our stress and pain so easily. While some dogs might react to a menstruating women’s mood changes by becoming clingy, they also might react aggressively.
So, if you have painful (either physically or mentally) periods, your dog could become aggressive in response to your pain and their insecurities, stress, and fear.
Should I Be Worried If My Dog Is Aggressive When I Am On My Period?
Aggression is not an acceptable behavior in your dog. Dogs need to be carefully trained to become protection dogs, and police dogs who seem scary are completely under control by their handler.
These dogs have been socialized and trained to handle stress and listen to commands. A dog who acts aggressively when you are on your period does not have the same kind of self-control.
If you are worried that your dog is becoming dangerous because of their aggression when you are on your period, you need to ask someone for help. A Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Animal Behaviorist, or Veterinarian Behaviorist can help you learn to train, manage, and if need be, medicate your dog before they get worse.
Aggression can also be a response to pain, and the stress of your period could be making your dog extra irritable. If you think your dog is lashing out because of pain, take them to your veterinarian for a full check-up!
Help Change Your Dog’s Behavior
Once you have figured out why your dog is aggressive when you are on your period, you can begin using positive reinforcement methods to change their behavior. Two favorite methods for aggressive behaviors are counterconditioning and desensitization.
Counterconditioning is the method of changing your dog’s negative experience into a positive one. The simplest example would be if your dog is afraid of fireworks, you give them a high-value treat every time they hear one.
Be patient and start small! Once they are more comfortable with the fireworks, you can start to slowly desensitize them to the bad stimulus. Add louder noises and get closer, all the while adding more treats, toys, or games.
Kikopup has a great video to help you get started and troubleshoot.
Dogs can be delicate creatures. They know when we are in pain, stressed, and irritable. While we might want our dogs to snuggle by our side all the time, especially when we are feeling ill on our period, some dogs instead react aggressively.
Depending on the circumstances, you might observe territorial aggression, predatory aggression, possessive aggression, or redirected aggression. Utilizing counter-conditioning and desensitization will help change your dog’s behavior from aggressive to calm, making your periods less stressful for you and your dog.
Never be afraid to seek professional help with your dog’s behavior. It might be some work, but they will help you find the perfect training plan to get your normal dog back, even when you are on your period.