Do Dogs Get Spring Fever?


Do Dogs Get Spring Fever?How do you know when spring is about to arrive? Here in the Midwest, it’s been a long, cold winter and I’ve been searching for signs of life under all this white stuff covering the ground, but I haven’t seen a Grape Hyacinth or Daffodil bulb spouting through the soil yet.

Then it happened! I got the official word yesterday from my dog Haley, that spring has finally arrived, and it came in with a bang this year. Dogs love their routines and one of Haley’s daily rituals is to ask to sit in my lap in the late afternoon for a belly rub (aka the afternoon lovefest). She usually rests her chin on my leg as a reminder that “it’s time”, but yesterday, she sprang onto the couch where I was sitting, got in my face and reminded me with an intense stare and a demanding groan.

I was both shocked and amused because Haley’s normally a very mannerly girl, and then it hit me. Here I had been looking outside for signs of spring, forgetting that each year my dog is happy to inform me when it arrives by ushering in the season with an attitude. It’s a two week celebration of her being a bit pushy or cocky. When she was young and displayed this attitude in the spring, I laughed it off and joked about her having spring fever, I figured the timing was just coincidental. Now, after witnessing this phenomenon for eight years, I’m convinced that dogs get spring fever.

I’ve never heard any other dog owners talk about this before, but Haley definitely gets a bit of an attitude. The change in season stirs something inside of her (just like us humans) and she becomes full of life, full of energy and full of herself. I love observing this reawakening each year, that extra sparkle in her eyes, the spring in her step and even the feistiness that comes along with it. It’s a time to reinforce training and to remind her of the rules, even though I’m secretly laughing on the inside because it’s so unusual for her to act this way.

Do Dogs Get Spring Fever?I wonder what triggers spring fever in dogs. It makes sense that intact male and unspayed female dogs would behave differently in the spring since it’s a common heat and breeding season, but what about spayed dogs like Haley? Is she still influenced by the biological, breeding cycle clock? Is it triggered by a reduction in her melatonin level (the sleep-inducing hormone) that happens when the days start to become longer? Whatever the cause, it’s always funny each year when canine spring fever hits. Haley’s antics make me smile while I’m waiting for the last snow to melt and the tulips to greet the sun once again.

Do dogs get spring fever? I say, yes! What have you observed about your dog’s behavior in the spring? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

33 Comments on “Do Dogs Get Spring Fever?”

    • Hmmm, interesting idea – I don’t know if they do…but we live in SoCal and we don’t have much of a change of season, so I’m not sure I would notice. I’ll pay more attention.

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        I’ve wondered about that too. You’ll have to let me know if you notice any behavior changes. I’m guessing it’s more pronounced in dogs that live in areas that have more seasonal changes.

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        I agree, I think it has more to do with the longer days and more sunlight, which makes me wonder if the melatonin theory isn’t true. I think that’s what happens with people too when they live in areas which distinct seasons. I bet Torrey is looking forward to the longer days.

    • I don’t think I’ve really noticed this in Ace, but it might be because I’m not very observant! I don’t know. It’s interesting, and very cute how Haley behaves! Of course, now I’m in San Diego so there’s not exactly a dramatic change from “season” to “season.”

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        I think I’m almost ready to leave the Midwest for a place like San Diego. Of course, I say that every year around this time, haha! It’s nice having the change of seasons, but it would be fantastic having a dog beach nearby that you can visit all year long.

    • I, too, live in California where we have no snow. However, the weather is cooler and sometimes wetter in the winter. My dog, Savanna, has been bringing me her Frisbee so we can play lately. We used to play Frisbee every day until she injured her knee, so I assumed that her bringing me her Frisbee to play meant that her leg was feeling better. Spring fever? I don’t know, maybe…

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        I sure hope it’s that her knee is better and not spring fever. Haley’s getting over a sore knee right now too and it’s so hard to keep her from playing hard. Hopefully, they’ll both be back to normal soon.

    • I’ve never really noticed this with my dogs. I’ve noticed “cabin fever” when we’re in the throes of winter and they start to get bratty and snarly with each other!
      I’m going to watch for this now…it sounds more fun than cabin fever…especially after the time change this coming weekend! We’ve had our first above freezing day in weeks today, so that may kick something off too!

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        Yes, spring fever is definitely better than cabin fever, right? I can’t wait for the time change this weekend, it means spring is that much closer!

    • Like SlimDoggy, we live in Southern California, so it’s pretty much 70s and sunny a lot of the winter. Rita actually is a fan of winter because it’s not so darn hot! She doesn’t like going for long walks when it’s hot out because of her black coat. (And her laziness!) 🙂

      Funny about the “afternoon lovefest”. We have the “morning lovefest” here!

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        Ah, I’m so jealous of all of you living out there in sunny Southern California. We have a morning lovefest here too, but nothing compares to the “coming home” lovefest. Thanks for stopping by today, Jackie!

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        Let us know if you notice Choppy getting a case of spring fever. Hang in there, the flowers will be blooming soon there in Milwaukee. 🙂

    • I call it cabin fever at my house, but I definitely see it in Delilah…hence the pooping of the pencils. I don’t know what it is, all I know is it does happen yearly!!

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        I’m so glad I’m not the only one that notices this. I hope Delilah is feeling okay after her little arts and crafts project. 🙂

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        It’s kind of funny when it happens, but I’m glad it doesn’t last very long. Let me know if you notice anything different with your pups this spring, Barbara.

    • I’m jealous of all you Californians!! My Mila hasn’t really had any personality changes. Although, she’s been standing at the door more frequently and has been wanting to stay outside for longer. Who would blame her? Being in NYC it’s not really an option to just let her hang out outside though :-/ I’ll be more cognizant of any kind of changes though! Great Topic 🙂 Woofs from Barkocity

      • I wonder if city dogs would get the same spring fever feelings as country or suburban dogs. Hmm, I never thought about that. You’ll have to let us know as spring comes to NYC! Thanks for stopping by, Cara. 🙂

    • One my dogs has been extra aggressive the past 2 weeks. He stares down our other dog and then lunges at him and they fight. When they play they definitely play for dominance, and sometimes it can escalate into a fight. But this is different. This is explosive fight resulting from a stare down.

      Now that I think about it, I think it was last spring when this dog decided he no longer liked our neighbors dog and started “fence fighting” with him. So I’m wondering if this could be a spring fever reaction.

      Another weird behavior is when he was he was a puppy he would chew up my husband’s leather shoes. We trained him to not do that. But now he’s 3 years old now and has started chewing up his shoes again.

      • Chasing Dog Tales

        Maybe there is a correlation since you remember the same type of behavior last spring. I’ve heard of a similar rise in aggression in some male dogs during the spring (especially intact males), since it’s breeding season for most animals. Hopefully this will pass soon, but in the meantime, make sure both dogs are getting plenty of exercise. Maybe add an extra daily walk to take the energy edge off to see if that helps. Definitely contact a good trainer if you’re concerned this might be something more than a short-term springtime issue.

        Thanks for stopping by today and adding to the conversation. I would love to hear back from you in a month or so to see if things return to normal. 🙂

    • My male dog becomes more territorial and challenges me every time the spring starts. I am convinced it has something to do with the start of the season. He even growls at people when approached which he never does otherwise. He is a cute shitzu but his behaviour changes for about 6 weeks when we shift from winter into spring.

      • Hi, Jewels! It’s kind of funny to observe that behavior each year, isn’t it? Here in Ohio, it seems to begin when the tulips sprout out of the ground and then ends when they finally give up and wilt, haha! Wishing you and your Shitzu a very “Happy Spring”!🌷😊

    • My intact male has been acting out of character ever since spring started. He’s too excited to eat all his food in one sitting, he barks at things he normally doesn’t, and has become pushy/bolder. Not any serious problems, just odd and slightly annoying.

    • My Golden has been crazy the past week – whining and moaning to go outside. Then when she’s out she is out of control chasing butterflies and digging holes. I read that all animals have some degree of “Spring Fever.”

    • My apartment complex has an attached dog park, and from my observations I can completely agree that there is a change in behavior when Spring arrives. I’ve seen an escalating number of dog fights, and milder dog aggression, especially within the last two weeks. I saw three dog fights/attacks just today, which is how I found this article.

      Since this park is attached to the complex, and my balcony overlooks the park, I am familiar with all of our regulars. I know all of their names, and have a pretty good inventory of their personality traits. A large number of them have been acting out of character recently, and I’m convinced it is because of the seasonal change. Even my own sweet girl, who has never been aggressive, has gotten involved in some tussles recently. This would be a great topic for animal behaviorists to research. Doesn’t this happen to bucks and similar animals?

    • I have seen this change for 9 years as well! My boy is already mildly reactive towards other dogs who are reactive and staring him down, and we work on it constantly. And in summer and winter I always think “wow he’s really improving, we’ve had so many wins and he’s doing so well,” and then the shift into Fall or Spring (which is more intense) happens and he is more reactive, his threshold is way lower, he’s suspicious of all people, he eyeballs and hates every dog he sees even at a far away distance, he gets worked up fasting and hi hackles get all raised, he is pushing all rules and boundaries in the house, he does things before thinking….

      Every single year! For about 2-3 weeks he has like “doggy PMS” it seems like. He is altered, but there’s no doubt about it has to be come kind of hormonal thing going on. We just try to get through it as best as we can until his brain fog clears up! You aren’t alone. Cheers!

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