Phantom Pregnancy Behavior Issues
I have a 2 year old shihtzu who in the last 2 days or so has started treating about 8 stuffed small dogs as puppies. She cleans them and is very defensive of them. Is this a major problem or just a phase that will pass? She has never been bred, is this part of the problem?
Most bitches go through some kind of behavior such as this at some point in their life. It is usually more common in unbred (or maiden) bitches. This behavior should not be encouraged, however, since it may develop into further, more disturbing, symptoms. Bitches who undergo phantom pregnancies ‘think’ that they are pregnant and will seek a nesting place.
They may well develop swollen breasts and may even produce milk. If your dog begins to believe that these stuffed toys are her puppies, she may begin to develop these symptoms. Milk production is a problem, since as she will not be relieved of the milk, problems may develop. You should remove the toys and not allow her to even see them. If she pines, buy her a new toy and keep her active for several days.