Very young dogs and first litters
Very young dogs should not be bred. The dog is immature and still growing herself and she may still not be ready to have young puppies of her own yet. Like in all new mothers, hormones run riot the first several days after birth in her body and she has no idea what is happening to her. She may know she has to clean the pups, but is too rough and kills them. The eating part comes naturally afterwards. Sadly, this may set a lifetime pattern with her pups, so some vets recommend the dog is not bred again, but is spayed, especially if she is pedigreed.
Do not let your young dog breed within her first couple of seasons. If you don’t want to breed her anyway, it is best to take her to your vet clinic and discuss spaying at an appropriate time.
In the wild, dogs are usually in packs, and, if the weakest member cannot keep up, then it is abandoned. This is true for many breeds of animals. A canine may seek out somewhere safe to have her pups, but, if the pack feels danger or is harassed, then they will leave her and the pups behind in order to save themselves. The mother may emerge from her hiding after giving birth, find the pack gone, go back and eat her young for strength before she follows the pack. It is simply Nature’s way to ensure her survival for a while.
Older dogs and stress
Giving birth is stressful enough. But should the environment not be congenial, the dog may also resort to eating her pups. Although humans now have many present at birth, dogs, cats and other animals much prefer not to be the subject of a multitude of eyes. They will, as a rule, allow one or at the most two people that they trust near them when birthing, but no more.
Notice your dog’s temperament before breeding her. Is she placid, can take everything in her stride and does not get hyper at every little thing? Then she will most likely be fine to breed, should you wish. A hyped-up dog at the best of times is only going to become even more so when she whelps, and more likely to eat her young.
Let the dog choose her own place to have her pups and keep others away while she goes about it. If you must let the children see, keep them very quiet and as still as possible.