With the worldwide surplus of unwanted animals, pet owners are strongly advised to breed only if good homes can be provided for the offspring. If breeding is to take place, the appropriate time to do so must be decided. Dogs and cats usually reach sexual maturity by ten months old, but do not reach emotional maturity for another year. Most females have two estrus cycles a year, and they should be allowed to have three before mating. When choosing a mate for a female dog, it is best to use an experienced stud and have the dogs mate at the stud's premises. Both dogs should be examined by a veterinarian before mating, and occasionally the owner will need to calm the female during the mating process. The female should be taken to the vet three weeks after mating in order to confirm the pregnancy. Both dogs and cats have about a nine week pregnancy. A reduction in activities and an increase in food and attention can help prepare the animal for the birthing process. For more information on breeding and reproduction, consult a veterinarian in your area.