Contrary to what many people believe, artificial insemination or AI is really not complicated, especially direct dog to dog insemination that requires no storage of the semen, the step of the process that typically is the most difficult to complete correctly. Many veterinarians, AI technicians and even private breeders have the knowledge, equipment and ability to complete their own AI, especially if the collection of semen and the insemination is all done in the same location.
The first step in the process is to ensure that the female is in the correct stage in her estrus cycle. Typically the female will first show signs of approaching ovulation by a bloody looking discharge from her vulva for approximately 8 days. After this is over she will have a lighter and clearer discharge, during which time she will "stand" which means she will allow the male to breed her. It is during this 7 day time frame that she can be successfully inseminated. If using frozen or chilled semen, collection of the semen can be done several days ahead of time in the case of chilled semen, or even years in advance in the case of frozen semen.
When direct insemination is occurring with fresh semen, the male and female are typically at the same location. The male is presented with a female dog, correctly known as a teaser, and allowed to mount her as if to breed. An artificial vagina, which is a specialized plastic tube that is warmed to the correct temperature using water, is then positioned so that the penis enters the artificial vagina. The male will then ejaculate into the artificial vagina, which allows the technician or breeder to collect the semen.
From this collection process the semen is then processed and evaluated. This process is done under a microscope, which allows the technician to actually count the number of viable sperm as well as check for any abnormalities that may prevent fertilization. While the technician can check for movement, number of sperm as well as the overall health of the sperm, it still does not guarantee that the semen can impregnate a female; there may be other genetic conditions that cause infertility.
The semen, once tested, is then inserted into the vagina of the female. It is very important to keep the semen at the correct body temperature to prevent any damage to the sperm. Ideally the small glass or plastic tube is inserted at least to the cervix, which ensures the greatest chance of impregnation. The female will typically stand for the procedure without any need for restraint or sedation.
When the semen is not used immediately it can be processed which will allow the sperm to stay motile and healthy for up to 24 hours while chilled. This is the best option as it prevents the need for freezing and thawing of the semen, plus it also allows easy transportation or even over night shipping of the collected semen. This additional time can allow artificial insemination of breeding lines around the world, which would never be able to occur with standard breeding practices.