Could My Pregnancy Make our Dog Anxious?

QUESTION

Dear Pet Expert,
I am 6 months pregnant and before I even knew, my dog (shih-tzu) started acting up. She is always panting and running back and forth and does not relax. She just want to be outside all the time.

Is there anything we can do to make her more comfortable in our home?

ANSWER

Congratulations! It is funny how we often think our dogs and kids do things because of something we have done. I think this is Mommy Syndrome! It is true that your dog may sense changes with you but it is also likely that patterns and other things have changed as well. Even subtle things like routines, naps, walks, etc. Often posture changes in Moms can lead to a dog being a bit uncertain about what is going on.

You mentioned that she wants to be outside and runs back and forth panting. Think about what has changed in the neighborhood. New dogs, kids going to school... Often these things will cause some changes in behavior. The other factor is to rule out any medical causes for these symptoms, anxiety or other types of issues.

Once a medical condition is ruled out, here are some ways to address her behavior:

  1. Freshen some basic obedience such as sit, down, wait and place commands to give her alternative behaviors when she begins to pace or seem frazzled.
  2. Try putting a leash on her while in the house. This will allow her to be close to you and also allow you to direct her to another behavior without her walking away.
  3. Provide mental stimulation such as food dispensing toys (buster cube, busy buddies and kong toys)
  4. Become familiar with leadership and the important role it plays. Visit http://www.darlenearden.com/ for a great book on toy breeds.
  5. www.dogwise.com has great resources of dog books. Dr. Patricia McConnell has a wonderful book The other end of the leash and Leader of the Pack.

All of these may help. I also suggest visiting www.doggonesafe.com and www.familypaws.com to find articles that will be helpful in your preparation.

I hope that some of this is helpful and I wish you luck on the final stretch of your pregnancy!

-- Jen

Jennifer Shryock

Jennifer Shryock, is the founder/Director of Family Paws Parent Education which offers two international programs, Dogs & Storks and The Dog & Baby Connection, in over 40 states and 8 countries. Jennifer is a stay-at-home Mother of four and a certified dog behavior consultant, specializing in safe dog and baby/toddler interaction. Believing the relationship between dogs and their family is precious, Jennifer created her business, Family Paws LLC to offer opportunities to families to enhance their relationship with their dog(s). Jennifer uses only positive dog and kid friendly techniques that anyone can perform in their own home. Jennifer's combination of passion and experience as a parent, special education teacher and certified dog behavior consultant allows her to connect and support families in a unique way.

Jennifer is certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and maintains professional membership with the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Jennifer is also the U.S. representative for Doggone Safe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to dog safety. Jennifer has been featured in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart LIVING and Dog Fancy, as well as has been a popular guest on various radio programs.

Jennifer and family share their home with their 3 dogs and 3 cats.