Why doesn't my dog ​​like me anymore after my miscarriage?


Dogs can smell changes in our hormone levels. When “their” human is pregnant or has had a miscarriage, they perceive that something is different. This can affect their behavior.

Anna has been feeling bad for days. The young self-employed woman from the US state of Virginia couldn't explain what was going on – and then another problem added to her nausea and insecurity: her dog was acting strangely. Lulu, a poodle who was usually more attached to Anna than her husband, suddenly didn't want to be around her anymore.

As it turned out, Anna was pregnant. But she only found out after heavy bleeding and a stay in the emergency room. There she was told that if the fetus survived, she would face a high-risk pregnancy.

She and her husband returned from the hospital in shock. For Anna it was the hardest day of her life. All she wanted was to lay down at home and cuddle with her dog. But Lulu refused.

Anna, whose real name is different, says she was angry with her dog. She felt like Lulu was ignoring her during her worst times.

“She didn't sleep next to me like she used to do almost every night since we got her have,” Anna told DW. “She just wanted to sleep next to my husband, which she had never done before.”

A few days later the fetus died. Anna has never needed support more than she has during this time, but Lulu continued to stay away from her. Her dog's dismissive behavior gave her a hard time. “I always thought dogs were supposed to show you unconditional love,” says Anna.

When dogs get confused or overwhelmed, they may no longer want to sleep next to people who were previously close to them.

Dogs smell changes in human hormone levels

After Anna's curettage, which removed the remains of the fetus, it took a few more days for Lulu to behave normally again. Today she is “much more affectionate” and cuddles with Anna again.

But why did the animal's behavior change so drastically?

“Dogs smell pheromones and when they are pregnant or after a miscarriage, their caregiver's smell changes,” says dog trainer Sissy Leonie Kreid, who studied animal science at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and founded the “Akademie Hund” in Regensburg.  

Kreid says such changes in a human's hormone levels can affect a dog's behavior. But that's not the only possible explanation for what happened between Anna and Lulu. 

“People behave differently after a miscarriage, they become sadder, maybe even desperate. The dog understands this change and it takes time to get used to it,” says Kreid.

This is exactly what Anna experienced with her dog.

“I'm sorry that Lulu must have been totally confused,” says Anna. “So I'm sorry now. I was just angry at the time.”

Kreid says that if human hormones do after an event like a miscarriage, the dog's behavior is likely to return to normal . Usually the dog is back to normal after a few weeks, sometimes – as in the case of Anna's poodle – even after a few days.

If the dog is the first to know about the pregnancy

Dogs can find avalanche victims or people buried under the rubble after an earthquake. The animals are also in demand in the health sector: They can sniff out cancer or COVID-19. And sometimes they know very early on that someone close to them is pregnant.

“[My dog] was avoiding me even before I knew I was pregnant,” says Anna.

< p>Based on her years of experience with hundreds of dogs and their human families, Kreid says that when change is in the air, dogs can sense it.

“We don't have any scientific data on whether dogs know exactly what it is There is change. But we can see from their behavior that they obviously noticed that something was different,” says Kreid.

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From phantom pregnancy to watchdog behavior

Benedict, a fitness trainer from Bonn, confirms that family dog ​​Merle definitely noticed when Benedict's wife was pregnant with their first child.

“Merle suddenly had this nest-building instinct,” Benedict told DW. “She collected stuffed animals and made a cozy corner. It was like she had a phantom pregnancy.”

Other dogs become extremely clingy or exhibit strict guarding behavior when someone in their human family is pregnant, says Kreid.

“The dog may then become controlling and protective and not allow it a stranger is sitting next to the pregnant woman,” says the expert. “They can also aggressively bark at sounds coming in from outside.”

In such a case, Kreid strongly recommends hiring a dog behavior expert, otherwise the situation could get worse once the baby is born. One reason: Dogs can feel jealous, a 2014 US study found.

“Empathy for the dog has to be the first reaction,” says Kreid. “When a baby is out and about, it's an unsafe, confusing situation for the dog. It can be for humans, too – but the dog has a lot less control over it, so it can get nervous or neurotic. That's where understanding is important to show.”

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Prepare the dog for the baby

If the family is expecting a baby, it is advisable to get the dog so early prepare for it as possible. A good step, for example, is to choose someone other than the pregnant person to be responsible for feeding the dog and walking them—starting slowly early in the pregnancy. That way there isn't an abrupt change if the pregnant person eventually becomes unable to do these activities.

It's also a good idea to get your dog used to baby sounds. For example, you can play crying and whining on your cell phone and keep walking past the dog so that later “it doesn't jump up or bark when you're carrying a crying baby around,” says Kreid.

So there are precedents busy at birth. For the time after that, Kreid's most important advice is: never leave baby and dog alone together.