Dogs are more observant than we give them credit for, picking up on our behaviors and body language. Research and personal experiences have demonstrated show dogs are attuned to changes in our body, sometimes before we are aware of them ourselves.
Dogs have been trained to assist humans with all sorts of physiological conditions; however, some things you just cannot train for. In this article, we explore the idea of dogs sensing human pregnancies. Are dogs able to conceptualize the incoming miracle of life, or are they just as bewildered the rest of us?
Signs Your Dog Knows You are Pregnant
It is suggested that dogs are able to sense pregnancies through behavioral observations, changes in the household, and biological triggers. While it can vary greatly depending on the dog and their sensitivity to change, here are some signs to look when Fido is trying to tell you they know about the bun in the oven.
Dogs may be more aggressive and territorial about the woman’s personal space, growling or positioning themselves in a guarding manner. In contrast, dogs may be more wary or confused about the expecting gal, displaying perked ears or reclusivity. These signs are usually a manifestation of overall changes in demeanor, like a sudden neediness or standoffishness.
One thing that is consistent is a sudden interest in the belly, with particularly curious dogs sometimes pawing at it. Reading a dog’s body language during pregnancy is valuable, as they can be signs of what is to come. These signs might vary in intensity as the pregnancy progresses, and it's not guaranteed they will carry-on once the baby is born. It has been reported that body language completely reverts back to normal once the mother’s own physical form returns to normal after birth.
History of Dogs Sensing Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a tale as old as time. The ways in which birth and pregnancy are dealt with have a long and fascinating history, entangled with cultural differences from all over the world. And though these differences are palpable, it seems that a dog’s ability to sense pregnancy is universal.
Pregnancy is often met with a lot of behavioral and physical changes such as differences in posture, family dynamic, and arrangement of the home. As dogs have become integrated more intimately into the household dynamic over the past few decades, dogs have become much more sensitive to these changes. Dogs, as they have evolved into members of the family, have a history of being particularly protective of pregnant women. This is fascinating because it suggests that dogs have a certain capacity to comprehend why a pregnant woman is particularly vulnerable.
There is a significant gap in the research assessing the plausibility of a dog’s sense for pregnancy. Despite this gap in the literature, innumerable accounts from women all over the world seem to confirm that dogs can and do sense pregnancy. News stories of women finding out they are pregnant after noticing their dog acting differently are abundant.
Science of Dogs Sensing Pregnancy
The science behind a dog’s ability to detect pregnancy is centered around their ability to smell changes in hormones. Research shows that dogs have this unique ability because of their highly sensitive sense of smell, as it has been shown to aid detecting changes in blood sugar as when.
Due to the near impossibility of constructing a scientific experiment to prove this, experts rest on the assumption that the spike in hormones caused by pregnancy is the source of a dog’s ability to sense it. It is also suggested that the morning sickness, changes in blood pressure, and occasional fevers that come with pregnancy are also signals to dog’s nose that something is different with their human.
Training Your Dog When a Baby is Coming
Training a dog to sense pregnancy is next to impossible, due to the nature of how often pregnancy is experienced in a family. That said, there are several training tips to keep in mind when considering the different behaviors some dogs may exhibit in reaction to the coming baby.
The lifestyle changes that pregnancy triggers can be overwhelming for dogs, sometimes causing negative behaviors in need of correcting. Particularly sensitive dogs have been known to mark their territory, whine, or paw incessantly to reassert themselves as a response to the shift in pack dynamic they are detecting or a rearrangement of the physical space. The addition of nursery items can also be triggering, and dogs can begin a chewing habit. When a dog starts peeing in the home or chewing again, it is essential to go back to the basics of housebreaking with stern commands and rewards.
If a dog is aggressive towards others in an effort to protect the pregnant woman, it is essential for the woman to reassert dominance over the situation. By laughing off this sudden protectiveness, you are giving the dog a free pass to exhibit aggression. The woman must correct this behavior as soon as it is shown through vocal corrections and physical positioning.
It is also suggested that dogs are slowly introduced to baby items and new boundaries that will be in place when the baby comes to help the dog slowly acclimatize. The most critical part throughout this nine-month process is encouraging your dog through the changes, and rewarding them for positive behavior such as respecting baby gates or commands against aggression.
Written by a Dachshund lover Lillie Hinkle
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/02/2018, edited: 04/06/2020