As bizarre as it sounds, expectant mothers often claim that the first one to know about their pregnancy is the family dog. Though dogs can be goofy and aloof, they're painfully in touch with their senses, and often their heightened senses of smell and hearing can be indicators that they're aware their owners are expecting a baby.
Though a dog can't fully grasp the concept of a new member in the family in nine months, they can sense physiological changes far earlier than humans can. Because dogs can hear about 100,000 times better than humans and can hear at an ultrasonic range, this means they're likely to be the first to know when it comes to human pregnancy.
You probably have an incredibly close bond with your dog, so it's likely that your dog wouldn't even need their incredible hearing and fantastic sniffer to understand that something physiological is changing.
Interested in learning more about how your canine companion can tell that you're pregnant? Want to stay in tune with your dog's reactions, understand why they act the way they do, and what their actions mean for you and your pregnancy?
Good news! We've got all the doggo information you need to decode your pooch's reaction to you and your new baby. Read on to learn more.
Signs Your Dog Knows You're Pregnant
Your dog is a lot more perceptive than you think, so they might be able to tell that you're pregnant based on your behavior alone. Pair that with an incredible nose and astounding hearing, and it's basically impossible for you to not include your pup in the baby bump news.
Once your dog realizes you're pregnant (maybe even before you do), they'll likely change their behavior. You might find that your dog becomes much more protective of you and your unborn child. They might bark at strangers or passersby even though they used to seem friendly. They also might not let members of your family or your friends get too close.
Additionally, you might find that your dog is much more affectionate than normal. It's not unusual for dogs to cuddle up close to pregnant women and their stomachs to keep the baby close to them. Your dog might follow you around a lot more than they usually do, too.
It's possible as well that your dog could have an adverse reaction to realizing that you're pregnant or that changes are on the horizon. Some people notice that their normally-well-behaved doggos start to misbehave a bit (think chewing on baby items and toys, wrecking the house, or having accidents) because of stress and anxiety. If you notice your dog is having any of these issues, it's possible that he's having an adverse reaction to the coming changes.
History of Dogs Sensing Pregnancy
Historically, there are plenty of ways dogs have been able to detect pregnancy. Whether it's a change in behavior or downright physiological signs, dogs are way more in tune with you than you think.
For example, dogs can smell the changes that your body is undergoing. Like we said above, dogs smell about 100,000 better than people do. When someone is pregnant, their body chemistry changes and that causes changes in odor. No matter how small of a change has taken place, your dog can smell it.
Your dog has ultrasound-level hearing, too, so it's likely they can hear crying in the womb, which can happen as soon as the 28th week of pregnancy. You might not be able to hear it, but your dog surely can.
Additionally, your dog can clearly see the changes your body is undergoing. More so, though, dogs are fairly good at reading situations and picking up on the changes happening in their world. Once they notice you changing your behaviors - and they will, they're pretty in tune with your everyday routine and how you normally act - they're likely to pick up on bigger changes that are coming.
Science Behind Dogs Sensing Pregnancy
When it comes down to it, there's no way you'd be able to hide your pregnancy from your dog. Their finely tuned hearing and impeccable noses would never allow you to keep them in the dark. Dogs can hear in the ultrasonic range, which means they can hear sound waves that reach anywhere from 50,000 - 60,000 cycles per second.
Compared to humans - at 20,000 cycles per second - that's pretty impressive. While it's not likely your dog's hearing is finely tuned enough to hear your baby's fetal heartbeat (that would take a serious set of ears), they can likely hear in-utero crying. Your baby will start crying in the womb as early as the 28th week of pregnancy, so you can expect that your dog can hear these sounds starting around the same time.
Let's talk noses, too. Your dog's nose is incredible. They can smell in parts per trillion and have about 25 times more smell receptors than people - that means they can easily smell the smallest changes happening in your body's chemistry. Hormonal changes certainly give off a certain smell, so it's to be expected your dog will pick up on this and understand, to a certain degree, that something is happening in your body.
Training Your Dog to Deal with Your Pregnancy
Often, dogs will react positively to pregnancy, either following the mother around, becoming much more affectionate, or increasing their guarding and protecting duties. Other times though, they can react negatively to the coming changes and act out.
It's important to note that any behavior like this isn't your dog acting out of spite or being vindictive. Dogs are unable to process complex emotions and feelings like those. Instead, your dog is either stressed, nervous, or confused about the coming changes and what is happening with their owners.
Sometimes dogs will act out by having accidents in the house, chewing up the new baby's items, or destroying parts of the home. We recommend, as always, that your dog has a firm grasp on basic commands and obedience rules. Make sure they are well aware that "no" means "no." If they are having a hard time listening to these commands, it's important to implement a safe, healthy punishment along with crate training.
It's important, too, to remember to give your dog the same amount of attention despite the changes that are happening. Take them on their normal walks, play with them as you normally would, and ensure that you're not slacking on their routine care.
Written by a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/19/2018, edited: 04/06/2020