Pregnancy and Pet Behavior

QUESTION

Dear Family Pet Expert,
I am 32 weeks pregnant and until a few weeks ago I had two perfectly behaved dogs. Now they are chewing paper and clothes. sometimes right in front of us. They have not destroyed any baby stuff. Could their strange behavior be related to my pregnancy? I am spending as much time as ever with them so I don't get it.

ANSWER

Dogs do sense changes and it is possible that they are aware of your hormonal changes and chewing your clothing makes them feel closer and more connected to you. It is also likely that new items either for baby or from the holidays are in your home and are more available.

Dogs do what works for them. If this new behavior is getting them attention then they most likely have found it rewarding. I would ask yourself what has changed in the environment.

  • Are these things more available now then before?
  • Are your dogs cooped up due to weather being too cold or wet outside?

Often changes are due to other things besides us. Thank Goodness! You are already experiencing Mommy guilt! Be careful with this. Be fair to yourself and think about the other major factors contributing. More likely it is boredom, or lack of exercise or something as simple as getting attention. Consider when this began and what might have contributed to it. Then look at how you might be fueling this behavior unintentionally with any type of attention to it.Now is a great time to review your obedience commands -- leave it and drop it. Keep in mind that the addition of a new baby is a HUGE gain for dogs in that very soon they will have another treat offering human. I hope this is helpful. Please also visit www.familypaws.com for more material to read on this subject.

Thank you for emailing your question and Good luck with your new baby!

-- 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.