We love our dogs for a lot of reasons. They’re cute, loyal and pretty funny, too. Many people say these four-legged animals have a sixth sense for knowing when you’re sad, in danger or even pregnant. It’s true — they can typically sense changes in the world around them, including when their owner is expecting.
They do this by reading human body language, behavior and feelings. Some research suggests dogs can sense when someone has cancer or another debilitating disease. Whether your dog can tell you’re pregnant or not, your two babies will have to not only live with each other, but they’ll also have to get along.
There are many tips and tricks for preparing both of your cuties to become the best of friends, starting from the moment you know you’re pregnant.
Before Baby Comes
Humans and dogs have an unbelievable ability to bond with one another, despite being different species. You’ve taught your furry friend to sit, stay, shake and roll over. They sleep with you in bed almost every night, and they’ll even play dead — for a small, edible fee. Believe it or not, there’s a great chance your dog knows you’re pregnant. There are a few ways they can detect this:
- Your odor changes. It’s a well-known fact that canines have an incredible sense of smell — so much so that they can tell you’re pregnant because you smell differently than normal since your body chemical changes.
- Your body language and shape change. Dogs aren’t the only ones who notice these common changes in pregnant women. It’s easy to notice when you have a difficult time standing up and waddle rather than move swiftly. Your pet might even be able to tell you’re showing before you can.
-Your mood and behavior are different. Just like your dog knows when you’re sad, sick or hurt, your dog can tell when your mood and behavior changes during your pregnancy. A difference as simple as that is enough to make him suspect you’re pregnant.
In short — your dog most likely realizes what’s going on. The best way to prepare they for how their life will change is to take them to obedience class. Once you have an infant in the house, behavior like jumping on you to greet you or running around the house at full speed could become an issue.
If this is your first child, your dog most likely isn’t familiar with small babies. Another idea is to slowly introduce your dog to other people’s infants — with their permission, of course. See how your dog reacts to their presence and adjust the classes based on that.
Setting up the nursery and letting your dog check it out before your new addition arrives isn’t a bad idea, either. You can introduce smells such as baby lotion and powder while you’re still pregnant. Just like you want to do the best thing for your unborn child, you should also be thinking about what will make your animal more comfortable with a new roommate.
The First Day
Once your baby is here and you’re still in the hospital, have someone close to you take some of your child’s clothes or blankets home to the dog before bringing the baby home. This way, by the time you get home with your little one, they’ll recognize the baby’s scent.
Brace yourself for a ton of kisses — your best friend has missed you while you’ve been gone. Make sure to greet your dog when you walk into the house so he or she doesn’t feel jealous of the new baby. They’ve missed you and will have lots of excitement to get out of their system.
While you nurse your baby, have someone else give your pup a little treat. Dogs can sense that nursing is an intimate connection between a child and mother, so rewarding them for being calm will encourage that behavior and help them enjoy that time, as well.
Between diaper changes and naps, it's crucial to remember your dog still needs exercise. If you’re not able to juggle the two, have your partner, a family member or a close friend take your pup for a walk every day. Not only will this give you some alone time with your new baby, but your dog will be much calmer afterward.
The Following Weeks
As you bond with your infant, make sure to include your pup as much as you can. Let them sit with you in the nursery while you change your child’s diaper, read them a book or sing them to sleep. If your pet is well-behaved, you could even let them play near each other on the floor once your baby is older.
Other ideas for keeping the peace between your two babies include installing safety gates, stocking up on toys (for both of them), teaching your baby to be gentle and keeping your dog’s bowls on the counter when not eating — that way, your baby doesn’t end up trying Fido’s kibble. That last one is especially important if you know your dog is food-aggressive.
Perhaps the most important rule to follow while introducing your baby and dog is to always supervise the two. Never leave your baby alone with your dog, no matter how well you think they’re getting along. Not only is infant behavior unpredictable — such as screaming — but your dog could also scare your baby unintentionally.
Pay attention to how your dog acts during the first few weeks of your baby’s life. Watch for unusual eye contact, change in appetite or excessive pacing, all of which are signs your dog might not be comfortable with the child’s presence.
Just like introducing two animals can be a nerve-racking experience, bringing your baby home to your four-legged friend can be a difficult experience. It’s an adjustment for dogs to share their territory with someone they don’t know. In some cases, your baby is like nothing they’ve ever seen before. Respect your dog’s needs during this time, make sure to show them lots of love and start preparing them for this transition as soon as you can. Soon, you won’t be able to keep the two away from each other.