Can Dogs Actually Sense When Their Owner Is Pregnant?
Some experts believe dogs might become more protective as they pick up on subtle signals that their owner is pregnant.
In an interview with Romper, M. Leanne Lilly, an assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said that while it "makes sense" for dogs to be able to pick up on subtle changes in their owners, they probably can't tell whether someone is pregnant.
It would be a difficult hypothesis to test for, too, said Lilly.
And though some dogs' reactions to the fluctuation during someone's pregnancy might be to curl up with their owners, others may respond in opposite ways. (Related: Sleeping with a Dog Is Better Than Sleeping with a Partner for Most Women—It's Science)
"While some dogs get more snuggly with the change in smell, some seem to get more worried," Lilly told Romper. "There are also certainly pets who don't seem to change—that the clients are aware of—or those who are even more standoffish. But the stories about a dog getting 'snugglier' are cuter and tend to stick with us."
Some experts even claim dogs can predict when a woman will go into labor. By sensing an owner's discomfort or mood alteration, perhaps brought on by contractions, canines might react by being more protective and signal an imminent labor. (Related: The Surprising Health Benefit of Having a Dog)
When it comes to introducing the new addition to the family, Lilly said owners can ease a pet's anxiety amid the life change by slowly acclimating them to baby furniture and other new components of a baby-proofed home before the infant arrives.
"Change can be hard for many dogs," she said. "… Incremental introduction to some of the changes in the household may help as you prepare for your baby."
Lilly added: "Furniture, items, new behaviors like carrying a person, can all be broken down into small steps—and work at the dog's pace to pair those things with food or play so that they're not strange or frightening."
This article originally appeared on People.com by Benjamin VanHoose.