Can Dogs Sense Human Pregnancy?

dog laying on pregnant dog owner while she pets him on their couch

If you ever get the feeling your dog can read your mind, you’re not alone. The bond between humans and their dogs is astonishingly strong — and has been for thousands of years. While they’re not mind readers, dogs are excellent at reading human body language and behavior and have an amazing ability to sense change in the world around them — including when their owner is pregnant!

How Do Dogs Know When Their Owner Is Pregnant?

So, what happens when a dog’s owner becomes pregnant? What is it about her condition that a dog can detect?

Here are several factors that may explain how dogs sense when their owner is pregnant.


pregnant dog owner playing with medium size breed dog on ground of living room surrounded by sunlight and plants

 

Change in Scent

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell that can differentiate 30,000 to 100,000 aromas and detect even the slightest change in odor. A mother’s body chemistry and hormones alter during pregnancy, which can also cause her unique scent (an odor her dog knows intimately) to change. And it doesn’t stop at sniffing out pregnancy; there’s even some evidence that dogs can detect when a person has cancer or is about to have a seizure.

Changes in Body Shape and Body Language

You don’t have to be as astute an observer as your dog to notice how pregnancy changes the way a woman looks and moves. Dogs can easily notice when their owner has a difficult time standing up, or when her gait changes to shorter, tilting steps instead of big, fast strides. And compared to a human, an attentive dog might just notice their owner is “showing” sooner in her pregnancy.

Changes in Mood and Behavior

As a dog owner, you've likely come to realize that your dog can read your moods. They know when you’re blue (and respond by cheering you up) and they join in the celebration when you’re bursting with joy. When it comes to moods, you simply cannot fool your dog — one of the many reasons owning a pet is good for us. So, it seems only natural that dogs can sense the mood and behavior changes a mother undergoes when she’s pregnant.

pregnant dog owner taking her dog on a walk outside in a field with mountains in the background

How Do Dogs React to Human Pregnancy?

The changes that occur in a pregnant woman can affect the entire household, including the family pup. Once a sensitive dog realizes change is happening, they may react with their own deviations in behavior.

Depending on the dog’s personality and the physical and emotional shifts of the pregnant woman, a dog may display one or more of these behaviors:

  • Increased affection for — and protection of — the pregnant woman
  • Agitation, growling, barking and/or being uncooperative
  • Urinating around the house
  • Chewing new items brought into the house for the baby

While some dogs have a more difficult time adjusting, most will eventually get used to the changes in their pregnant owner and return to a more normal behavior pattern.

Most of the time, showing your pup a little extra love and attention goes a long way toward giving them a much-needed sense of relief and reassurance. After all, change can be hard for humans and dogs alike. In more extreme cases, though, a dog that continues to act out may benefit from attending classes with a professional trainer.

The important thing to remember is that your dog is a sensitive member of your family, and what affects you and your human family also affects them. As your family expands, you can rest assured knowing that growing up with pets has a number of benefits for children.

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