If you’re pregnant, chances are your dog has sensed something is going on. Some dogs tend to get very protective of their pregnant owners. Others just sit at a distance and stare at them. Some place their paw on the pregnant mother’s belly and let it rest there. Dogs also notice when others are being extra attentive towards you or when you have been lounging around too much, indicating a drastic change in your routine.
This behavior is normal. Research suggests that a dog’s keen sense of smell, and general high-attunement to his surroundings, alerts him to the change in a woman’s body chemistry. How dogs in general react to this, however, varies from dog to dog.
If you are expecting and your dog has been behaving strangely about it, bordering on aggressive, read on to know how to deal with her during this time.
Pregnancy is big news. Regardless of whether this is your first time or not, you are likely to be thrilled,excited, and totally enraptured about this development. This is going to preoccupy the minds of both you and your partner, and everyone else in your household.
But as friends and family come and go, congratulating you and joining in your happiness, don’t forget your dog.
She is not going to understand what’s going on, though she’d sense the heightened levels of energy and excitement in the house. The excitement that she is not a part of.
You don’t want her to feel left out, or that will lead to behavioral problems like increased barking, grunting, and soiling.
If anything, if you sense your dog is feeling anxious, shower her with even more love and attention.
Take Care of Your Own Stress
If you are getting stressed out over your pregnancy, chances are that it is going to rub off on your dog as well, especially if you’re the dog parent.
Dogs are extremely sensitive creatures and they pick up on any changes in the emotional energy of their owners and respond accordingly. In order not to pass your own pregnancy stress over to your dog, make sure you are calm and collected, and still in control, when around your dog. If you start acting strange, your dog’s going to get very confused and interpret your behavior as a response to something (wrong) she has done.
Train Your Dog to Be Baby-Ready
Dealing with a new baby in the family is difficult even for older siblings. Your dog has no idea what’s going to hit her -- a bawling new intruder who is going to be the center of everyone’s attention.
It could be a bit too much for her to take in.
You could, and should, help matters by easing her into the new situation about to materialize in your life. There are a number of ways to accomplish this.
Get your dog used to the smell of the baby products you plan to use
Whichever range of baby products you plan to use, buy a few of them a couple of months before you are due. Start using them, too. Buy a crib and prepare it for your baby’s arrival. Sprinkle on it a bit of the baby powder you plan to use. Take your dog to it so that it can internalize the smell.
That way when your baby has arrived and has become a part of the dog’s routine, there will be some sort of a familiarity about it for your dog, thanks to the crib, the bed, and the baby powder that she has grown to know.
Get it used to baby cries on TV shows
Babies wail a lot, and that constant crying can get on anyone’s nerves. Including your dog’s. It would be quite a shock for her if she were to be exposed to an incessantly crying creature all the time, and the situation could lead to her getting anxious and barking in return. Distressed dogs can be difficult to handle. Some even regress and start having accidents.
Instead of springing such a big surprise on your dog, try to prepare her for this by exposing her to baby cries on the TV a few months in advance. Start sparingly and increase the frequency of playing the cries so that you ease your dog into it. It won’t be a shock then when your baby is finally home.
Get your dog used to babies
If your dog has never been around babies at all, it’s going to find one very strange, almost like a toy that squeals like real creatures. If you have any friends or neighbors with young babies, take your dog to visit them, or invite them over along with their baby, to familiarize your dog with this strange new type of creature that she has no idea about.
Think before Picking up Squeaky Toys for Your Baby
So you’ve started stocking the nursery with toys already? Awesome!
However, you would want to keep one important point in mind. If your dog has had plenty of squeaky toys of her own, and you plan to get those that produce a similar sound for your baby as well, things may get a bit tricky to handle.
In such a case, we suggest not opting for squeaky toys for your baby at all, especially if your dog hasn’t been trained to the extent that she knows which toys are hers and which she shouldn’t go after. Keep the chewing dog toys and the toys for your baby totally separate from each other. There ought to be no similarity in them, to avoid any kind of confusion in the dog as well as the baby.
Dogs and babies are a delight to watch together. But for this to come to pass you need to ease your dog into the changed life that is awaiting her. Make the transition as smooth as possible. Be extra patient with her. It’s likely she is very distressed and needs your attention and care more than usual. Be there for her, and ask your partner and other family members to be equally gentle and understanding with her.