It’s no secret dogs have the ability to detect an assortment of things before humans do - from changes in weather to mood, they seem to be able to sense it all. Have you heard, however, the surprising notion that dogs can actually sense pregnancy, allowing them to predict it in women before the women, themselves, are aware of it?
Now, we're not suggesting you rid yourself of more modern and accurate pregnancy detection methods, but what we are suggesting is that if you’re a female dog owner and you become pregnant, it’s likely your pooch knows about it before you yourself do. You might be asking yourself how this is even possible, and the answer to that question can be found in your pooch’s heightened sensory abilities.
Signs Your Dog is Predicting Pregnancy
Interestingly, when a dog is in the midst of detecting a pregnancy, there are some tell-tale signs they will give you. These signs can include investigative behaviors, such as approaching the individual who is pregnant and using their nose to sniff out hormonal and pheromone changes.
If you’re unaware of a new pregnancy in a friend, for example, it may seem your dog is over-interested or overjoyed in your friend, but really, their change in behavior is most likely due to the sensation overload your friend has brought on, just by their presence. This can look like your dog’s tail wagging more vigorously, and their whiskers appearing to twitch as their nose picks up on the new hormones being emitted by whoever is pregnant.
In addition to approaching and becoming more interested in you if you're pregnant, your dog is also likely to become more protective of you and the baby by displaying signs of guarding. These signs can range from pacing your room or the front door area and even sleeping by you to ensure your safety.
In contrast to this, your dog may also begin to lash out and show signs of jealousy through their behavior, depending on how they are adjusting to the pregnancy. These include your dog’s unwanted and destructive behaviors such as having an accident inside or chewing furniture or other objects.
If you notice this type of behavior in your dog, addressing it immediately is necessary to begin moving forward in creating a healthy living environment for your dog, especially if the new child is going to be living in it. Behaviors like this normally show when your dog is experiencing trouble adjusting and/or if they are dealing with feelings of jealousy.
- Wag tail
- Twitching whiskers
- Interest in the pregnant individual
- Changes in your dogs demeanor
- Increase in guarding behavior
- Increase in your dogs energy and awareness
The Science Behind Dogs Predicting Pregnancy
The science behind dogs' ability to predict pregnancy is rooted in our dogs' naturally heightened senses. When it comes to the actual prediction of pregnancy, its obvious dogs can’t really predict pregnancy before it occurs, rather, they are able to use their senses to detect early signs of pregnancy before we do, making it appear as if they predicted it.
Beginning with olfaction, the most common way for a dog to detect pregnancy is by using their precise sense of smell to sniff out hormonal and other scent changes in a woman due to her pregnancy. Science has proven that throughout the duration of a pregnancy, a woman’s hormones undergo substantial alterations and changes, which dogs are able to detect.
Interestingly enough, dogs have an organ inside of their nose called the Vomeronasal organ, which allows them to smell pheromones and hormones in humans, even though we can’t smell them ourselves. As a result, it's likely your dog will react to smelling these hormones, by modifying their behavior.
Dogs are also known for their remarkable talent of reading and picking up on subtle human body cues. When you're pregnant, small changes in behavior from your rest patterns, standing position, and general demeanor can all give your dog clues into your pregnancy, not to mention your changing body figure.
Regardless of if it's your body language or your scents that are tipping them off, scientific research has supported the notion that dogs can and do predict pregnancy.
Training Your Dog for Life with a Baby
It’s quite hard to train your dog to learn how to sniff out and detect pregnancy because it is something they instinctual do as a result of them noticing changes in their immediate environment. What you can train your dog to prepare for, though, is the new arrival of a baby living in your home - especially if your pup has never shared their home with an infant.
The changes you are likely to notice in your dog will begin to develop long before the arrival of your baby, meaning training can start then too. As silly as it may sound, one animal specialist, in particular, goes as far as suggesting you purchase a baby-like alternative (such as a doll) to begin practicing sharing your time and attention with them and your pooch.
Once you have the doll, it’s suggested you speak to it and give it the attention you'd give a child (such as cuddling and comforting it), to see how your dog will react, giving you a chance to gauge their readiness. You can also expose your dog to the real deal, by taking them on a walk, giving you another opportunity to see how it is they interact with children.
Another training trick you can use to prepare your dog includes increasing their walks from once to twice a day so that they can work off any extra energy they have acquired as a result of their attending to their pregnant owner. You can also enroll your dog in basic obedience training classes, or conduct them yourself, if you have not already. This will double as a way to give them attention regularly (helping with any jealousy they may be experiencing) and also remind your dog who the pack leader is, which can go a long way when a new member is being introduced to your pack.
Like your dog, it’s likely your child will also need some training and reminding when it comes to the way they treat your pup. Almost all children are much rougher then they seem to notice, and this can result in pulled tails and poked eyes - if you’re not careful. Enough negative interactions between your pup and a child can also lead to them developing a negative association with infants, decreasing the likelihood they will interact with them positively in the future.
Next, avoid jealousy between your pup and new baby by being sure both have an adequate stock of toys and treats. Dogs are known for their tendency to hang out around high chairs, taking whatever they can get from their new baby companions, so setting clear rules and routines surrounding food is important. For example, perhaps both dog and baby eat at the same time, in different parts of the room, never sharing each other portions.
Besides food, the last thing you need is your dog stealing your baby’s toys because they are more interesting than their own. You also don’t want your pooch becoming jealous of your child because they’re the ones receiving all of your love and attention. Therefore, having clearly defined time picked out for your pooch can help you meet their needs of getting enough of your attention.
How to React if Your Dog Seems to be Predicting a Pregnancy:
Don't overreact, it's quite possible your dog is sensing something other than a pregnancy, so getting worked up for nothing is a waste of energy.
Acknowledge your dog's sensing abilities by rewarding them with positive praise and/or a treat.
As silly as it sounds, if they are showing the signs listed above, and there is at all a possibility you're pregnant, it would be a good idea to hit up your local pharmacy to grab a reliable test.
If your dog appears weary by the bodily changes they are sensing, comfort them with petting or positive reinforcement (especially if you are aware you're pregnant).
Safety Tips to Consider After the Pregnancy:
Introduce your dog to the new child by allowing your dog to sniff them out, taking their own time to approach and examine the baby.
If your dog begins to react negatively to the child (showing signs of aggression), remove them from the situation and move to using short intervals of time during their initial interactions.
Do not leave your pet with a newly acquainted infant without the supervision of an adult. Since this is a new experience for them, their actions are unpredictable.