Does my dog know I’m pregnant? This is a question I get asked SO often.
Does your dog know that you are actually carrying a baby in your belly? And when you come home from the hospital, do they know that the baby you bring home was the same thing that was in your stomach? I can’t tell you for sure, but I would say it’s highly unlikely that they can connect the dots to that degree. However, dog’s are highly intelligent animals, with an incredible sense of smell and can be very sensitive to change. Change in your odour, from your shift in hormones, to changes in your moods and emotions, routines, body posture and how you are feeling.
The human body really does an amazing job preparing for newborns. A pregnant womens body is changing all the time especially as they are nearing giving birth. In the last trimester, our dogs might even be able to smell the amniotic fluid and the milk production, they might also be able to hear the fetal heart beat, although there is not a lot of scientific evidence to prove this, it’s still pretty incredible when you think about it.
The changes our dogs detect during pregnancy and examples I noticed with my dog
Dogs detect changes in our odour.
Pregnant women are bursting with hormones. And hormones can alter the body odour of humans. Dogs have an innate ability to pick up on these changes. I mean, they don’t actually know what’s about to happen (i.e. a human growing inside your belly and a baby coming out in 9 months time) but they definitely know that something is going on. I could tell very early on that Cooper had sensed some changes in me. But that was also because I was incredibly unwell in my first few months so our routine had also changed significantly and I’m sure my moods and my body posture were all different too.
Dogs detect body language.
As our belly grows, our body posture changes and dogs can sense this change. They can also sense if we are a little off balance. I struggled with Pelvic instability during my pregnancy with Harper, there were days it was so painful that I could hardly walk. In some respects, Cooper was great and really understanding as it impacted him and the exercise he got. I also had terrible morning sickness for the first 17 weeks of all my pregnancies and again, Coop was very understanding and patient with the decrease in walks and my energy levels. In fact, when I look back on this, the change in lifestyle was a great insight into life with kids, as daily walks and exercise routines were about to become less regular. So in a sense, it was actually preparing him for some of the changes that were about to happen.
Dogs detect our moods.
As many of you know, pregnancy can be a roller coaster of emotions.
I often hear clients say that their dog has become quite clingy or protective during their pregnancy. Maybe they are just being there for us, because they can sense all of this change and they are so in-tune in knowing that we just need a little extra comfort?! It’s a nice thought and rational. In the lead up to falling pregnant with Harper, I was pretty depressed. It took us some time and we had some issues along the way. I was home a lot and Cooper was there with me all the way. Apart from my hubby, he was really the one thing that helped cheer me up during this time. I couldn’t have gotten through that hard time in my life without him.
Dogs detect our pain.
Cooper knew when I was in labour (and F*$K it was painful!). As my contractions started getting more and more painful, he came up to me when I was lying on the bed and started licking my face. At the time, I thought he was doing that to help me get through it. Looking back, now that I know more about how a dog communicates, I think my pain was actually making him feel a little uneasy and stressed out. Licking can be a calming or a stress signal. How interesting is that?!
Our dogs can definitely sense change, they can see it, feel it and smell it. Whether they know exactly what it is and exactly what it means, isn’t certain. However, it is so interesting and quite possible to think that our dogs are already exposed naturally to the scent of our baby prior to bringing our baby home.
Make sure to check out these great resources too if you haven’t already:
- Five tips for dealing with that ‘dog guilt’ after having a baby
- Introducing your dog to your new baby – or as I like to call it – the Homecoming Phase!
- My tips to help prepare families with dogs for life with a new baby
- Click here for the Family Paws Baby and Dog Safety Handout – it’s a great visual with the do’s and don’ts.
- Click here for a great resource from Family Paws for different management ideas .
- Click here for what Active supervision looks like.
And if you have any other questions on this topic, please feel free to get in touch. I would love to help out in any way.