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Peggy's at the end of her first heat. Over the course of three weeks, her discharge changed from bloody to pink and watery to straw-coloured, and then disappeared altogether.

But now, five days later, her vulva is still quite swollen.

Will it return to normal? If not, how do I know when she is no longer fertile?

I was planning to get her back into her group classes this week, but not if there's any chance she's still in heat.
 

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It won't go back 100% but it should shrink down a lot. If the discharge is completely stopped I think you should be safe. I've heard if you want to be super safe you can wait a full four weeks from the start. But I think I'd be fine with putting her back in class. I would definitely give a good bath though to try to get the scent off of her so the boys don't bother her.
 

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She should be fine for the class on Thursday. Watch for signs of phantom pregnancy in around 6-7 weeks time, such as swollen nipples, nesting, even lactating - so common as to be considered normal, but disconcerting if you are not prepared!
 
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Congratulations on getting to the end of it. I really appreciate hearing all of your experiences so I can be ready for Violet’s (and my) first heat. I’ve had dogs so long it is strange to think there’s this whole category of dog experience I’ve never had before. Have fun at class!
 

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She should be fine for the class on Thursday. Watch for signs of phantom pregnancy in around 6-7 weeks time, such as swollen nipples, nesting, even lactating - so common as to be considered normal, but disconcerting if you are not prepared!
How strange! She's already shown some interesting maternal behaviour, dragging her plush toys to the couch from her crate (where they've stayed for literally months, since we got them) and immediately grabbing them again if we try putting them away. She seems a bit exasperated by our failure to understand the seriousness of the situation. ?
 

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Congratulations on getting to the end of it. I really appreciate hearing all of your experiences so I can be ready for Violet’s (and my) first heat. I’ve had dogs so long it is strange to think there’s this whole category of dog experience I’ve never had before. Have fun at class!
That's exactly how I've felt! And now I regret missing out on this experience with past dogs.

Once you get into the groove, it's all rather easy and fascinating, and it has definitely improved our bond. Even my husband has looked a little misty-eyed at times, witnessing the changes in Peggy and being there for her when she's needed a little extra TLC.
 

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I had an Irish Setter when I was young (I'm 81 now) and she adopted a grooming brush as her 'baby'!!! I started to take it away, and she certainly told me in no uncertain means, that was not just a brush. Took about 7-10 days for her to release her baby!
 

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I had an Irish Setter when I was young (I'm 81 now) and she adopted a grooming brush as her 'baby'!!! I started to take it away, and she certainly told me in no uncertain means, that was not just a brush. Took about 7-10 days for her to release her baby!
That is really cute. And I appreciate the warning! If Peggy did that and I wasn't prepared, I'd have worried she was starting up some new resource guarding nonsense.
 

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My dog’s genitals always went back to its original size.

Beckie had a severe depression episode while being in heat, but mostly after. It lasted 6-8 weeks if I remember correctly. She was pitiful and I hated that she was in that state.
 

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My dog’s genitals always went back to its original size.

Beckie had a severe depression episode while being in heat, but mostly after. It lasted 6-8 weeks if I remember correctly. She was pitiful and I hated that she was in that state.
Oh that's interesting! Peggy doesn't seem depressed, but she's had some growling episodes the past couple of days, which have me on edge. I wonder if it's hormonal?

She was mostly a puddle of mush while she was in heat. And she's otherwise just so much more obedient and mature. She sticks so close to me, I feel like I have a shadow. We've finally bonded.
 

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It could be, but don’t allow it If she’s growling at people.
I'm so worried about making it worse. I've never encountered this with past dogs. ? I keep hearing that if you suppress the growl, you are setting yourself up to get bit without any warning. Hard to imagine our loving, social girl biting aggressively, but....I've not known her long enough to trust her completely.
 

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I'm so worried about making it worse. I've never encountered this with past dogs. ? I keep hearing that if you suppress the growl, you are setting yourself up to get bit without any warning. Hard to imagine our loving, social girl biting aggressively, but....I've not known her long enough to trust her completely.
There are two schools of thought on this. One says correcting the growl is good and others say it's bad. My hunch is it probably depends on the dog and the circumstance. A very fear aggressive dog... probably not going to help. But a more confident dog that is being protective or possessive? Maybe that's fine. I'm not sure.
 

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I used to growl at people too when my hormones were all over the place...

My response to that sort of grumbling is usually "I know - life is rotten sometimes. Let's go and do something nice for dogs." Occasionally, depending on circumstances, it is "OY! Enough of that! Now let's go and do something nice for dogs." If she is guarding toys or objects as if they were pups the usual advice is to distract her and remove them when she is not around to be upset, then keep them out of the way till she is through the phantom pregnancy. She is likely to feel rather confused and jangled the first time around - I am trying to remember Sophy at that stage. As I recall routine and a calm, upbeat attitude helped the most.
 

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There are two schools of thought on this. One says correcting the growl is good and others say it's bad. My hunch is it probably depends on the dog and the circumstance. A very fear aggressive dog... probably not going to help. But a more confident dog that is being protective or possessive? Maybe that's fine. I'm not sure.
She's often jumpy, so maybe fearful? But she's also very brave and up for trying new things so ¯\(ツ)

It's so much easier to figure out other people's dogs! I'm too close.
 

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I used to growl at people too when my hormones were all over the place...

My response to that sort of grumbling is usually "I know - life is rotten sometimes. Let's go and do something nice for dogs." Occasionally, depending on circumstances, it is "OY! Enough of that! Now let's go and do something nice for dogs." If she is guarding toys or objects as if they were pups the usual advice is to distract her and remove them when she is not around to be upset, then keep them out of the way till she is through the phantom pregnancy. She is likely to feel rather confused and jangled the first time around - I am trying to remember Sophy at that stage. As I recall routine and a calm, upbeat attitude helped the most.
Thank you!! I appreciate your perspective. I can imagine she's feeling quite out of sorts. Still too early for a phantom pregnancy, but she's matured so much in just the past month. She must be awash in hormones and experiencing all sorts of new confidence AND insecurity.

P.S. I read a lot of Patricia McConnell and I see your thoughtful comments pop up from time to time on her blog. So nice! Like bumping into a familiar face. :)
 
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