About a week before I found out I was pregnant, Django acted very bizarre one evening. Mike and I were hanging out in the living room after dinner, and Django very excitedly ran over to me, jumped up on my leg, and began humping me. Aggressively.
I know what you’re thinking… Sometimes dogs try to hump, right? Sure, but this time was different.
After gently pushing my hairy little sausage dog off of my leg, Django immediately jumped back on. After shoving him off again, he started whining and clawing at me. He quickly became obsessed and would not back down! After 5 minutes of this back and forth, I finally carried Django into our bedroom and shut the door on him. Mike and I sat in the living room wincing as Django proceeded to whine and scratch at the bedroom door for over 40 minutes…
I found out I was pregnant one week after Django’s ‘off’ night and eventually began to wonder…. Did my body’s sudden surge in pregnancy hormones trigger Django’s bizarre behavior?
Although it hasn’t been scientifically confirmed that dogs know when we’re pregnant, there are a few reasons why dogs would be perceptive to this change:
Dogs' sense of smell overpowers ours by 10,000 to 100,000 times… Our canine friends can determine from a distance if another canine is neutered or spayed. They can sniff out narcotics and explosives, detect melanoma cells on their owners, and even tell time with their olfactory receptors. So it is undoubtable that dogs’ noses can discern significant and sudden changes in their owners’ body chemistry.
When a woman first becomes pregnant, her progesterone and estrogen levels spike dramatically, and she begins producing the pregnancy-specific human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone. Although a dog may not necessarily know the exact reason for his mom’s sudden hormonal surges—he or she may not comprehend that there’s a tiny little human growing in her belly—his or her nose will certainly pick up on mom’s changing hormone levels.
Dogs are very astute when it comes to reading their humans’ body language, emotions, and mood. Dogs will lay by your side when you’re sick and jump around excitedly with you when you’re happy.
When I was in the throws of first trimester morning sickness and fatigue, Django wouldn’t leave my side. He walked into the bathroom every early morning when I was hunched over the toilet, and he slept curled up against me when I started taking late afternoon naps during the early fatigue-stricken weeks of pregnancy. He clearly understood I wasn’t my normal energetic self, and responded by being sympathetic and protective.
Just like babies and small children, dogs love and thrive off of routines and daily structure. Our dachshund Django walks into our kitchen at 8:45am for breakfast and again at 6:55pm for his 7pm dinner. Even if no one else is in the kitchen at the time, Django will sit on the kitchen floor patiently until we feed him. At 9:30pm every night, Django walks into the bedroom alone, climbs into his dog bed, and nurses his stuffed hedgehog until Mike and I come in to get ready for bed.
When you’re pregnant, your routine changes. The pregnant mom may wake up in the middle of the night to pee (or throw up), and as the weeks progress you will start bringing home an increasing amount of baby supplies. While your dog may not understand there is a growing human baby responsible for these sudden changes, he or she will still pick up on the behavioral and environmental changes.
Eventually there will be a scientific study proving that dogs can indeed sense pregnancy in their humans. Until then, there is ample evidence from countless pregnant women (me included!) that dogs pick up on hormonal, behavioral, and environmental changes that come from being pregnant and preparing for a baby’s arrival.
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