Yes, it is very common for dogs to become more clingy and attached to their owners when pregnant. The exact reasons behind this behavioral change are not fully understood, but it is likely an instinctual reaction as the dog prepares for motherhood and raising puppies. Some key signs of clinginess in pregnant dogs include wanting to be constantly near the owner, following them everywhere, needing more affection and attention, and displays of anxious or protective behavior if separated from the owner. While clinginess may intensify, owners should ensure they continue meeting the dog’s needs during pregnancy.
Why Do Dogs Get Clingy When Pregnant?
There are several theories as to why dogs become clingier during pregnancy:
As in human pregnancies, hormonal changes occur rapidly in pregnant dogs. Increased progesterone and estrogen levels may cause behavioral changes like clinginess and a strong nesting instinct. Dogs are especially sensitive during the first few weeks of pregnancy when hormones surge.
Preparing For Motherhood
Dogs have innate maternal drives to care for their young which kick in during pregnancy. Becoming more attached to their caregiver helps ensure they will have the resources and support needed to raise puppies. This includes food, shelter, protection and help with nursing, grooming and socializing puppies after birth.
Pregnancy leaves dogs feeling more vulnerable. The growing fetuses in their abdomen change their body shape and alter their mobility and balance. Dogs understandably become more dependent on their owner for security and comfort during this time.
For pack animals like dogs, forming strong social bonds ensures the protection and survival of the whole pack. When pregnant, dogs work to strengthen their bond with their human “pack” who will become an important part of raising the puppies. This includes the dog’s bonded owner along with family members.
Need For Reassurance
Pregnancy is an uncertain time, especially for first-time mother dogs. Their changing body and new maternal drives may cause stress or anxiety. By staying close to their caregiver, dogs seek reassurance that everything is okay. An owner’s affection helps relieve a pregnant dog’s worries.
Common Signs Of Clingy Behavior
Some clear signs your pregnant dog wants more attention and closeness include:
Following You Closely
Expect your dog to shadow you around the house constantly. She may follow you from room to room or wait right outside the door when you are inside. Some dogs will follow their owner incessantly unless actively told not to do so.
Needing To Be Close By
Your dog may refuse to let you out of her sight by staying within 3-6 feet of you at all times. She may also position herself close by or in the same room. This allows her to watch over and be near her caregiver for comfort.
Insisting On Physical Contact
A clingy pregnant dog will go to great lengths to maintain physical closeness and touch with you. This includes lying on your feet, sitting on your lap, leaning against your leg, and sleeping in your bed or right next to it.
Demanding More Affection
To soothe her worries and feel emotionally close, your dog may solicit extra petting, belly rubs, brushing and treats. She’s asking you to pay attention to her and “shower” her with your affection.
Becoming Distressed When Alone
As pack animals, dogs thrive on companionship. Your pregnant dog may become very distressed if left alone, leading to barking, whining, pacing, and destructive behavior. Separation anxiety is common as dogs need reassurance from their caregiver.
Guarding Behavior Or Aggression
Some pregnant dogs become possessive of their owner and protective of their space. They may display uncharacteristic aggression like growling, barking or nipping when approached by strangers or other pets. This helps them guard their critical human caregiver.
Why It’s Important To Understand Her Needs
While needy pregnant dogs may seem demanding at times, it’s important to understand and meet their needs. Here’s why:
Ensure Her Physical Health
Your dog depends on you fully during pregnancy. Satisfying her needs for quality nutrition, exercise, veterinary care and affection helps keep her as comfortable and healthy as possible.
Reduce Her Stress
Your pregnant dog has real worries about the changes happening in her body and her coming role as a mother. Helping her feel secure lowers her stress, anxiety and chances of developing troubled behaviors.
Strengthen Your Bond
Responding positively to her clinginess and providing consistent care and reassurance strengthens the trust and bond between you. This is the foundation of a well-adjusted, cooperative relationship with your dog.
Practice For Post-Pregnancy
Your dog’s extreme dependence on you right now mirrors the constant care and attention she will require when nursing puppies after giving birth. It gives you good practice for this demanding period.
Ensure Proper Socialization
While careful supervision is needed, continuing positive social interactions with family, other pets and strangers during pregnancy is vital. This socialization carries over to help puppies develop good future temperaments.
Tips For Dealing With Clingy Pregnant Dogs
Here are some tips for responding to and managing a clingy pregnant dog:
Spend More Time Together
Set aside extra time to actively engage with your pregnant dog through play, training, brushing and cuddling to help her feel secure. Bring her along on household errands.
Use calming tones and praise to let her know she is a “good girl” and everything is okay. Give her frequent reassurance she’s loved and supported.
Very gradually build up solo time for your dog starting with just a few seconds of separation and slowly increasing. Avoid confining her. This prevents dangerous panic responses when you must leave her briefly.
Provide Mental Stimulation
Give your dog ways to occupy herself while alone like puzzle toys stuffed with treats, chews, and food-dispensing balls. These provide mental exercise which helps reduce anxious behaviors.
Stick To Her Routine
Dogs thrive on predictability and consistency. Sticking closely to your dog’s established feeding, walking, play and training schedule helps avoid additional stress.
Respond Selectively To Attention-Seeking
While it’s critical to meet your dog’s needs during pregnancy, reinforce calm, independent behavior and avoid rewarding extreme neediness. Respond selectively to limit attention-seeking demands.
Use Baby Gates And Confinement
Use gates to confine your dog safely when you can’t actively supervise her. Choose a room like the kitchen with her bed, water and pee pads for short stints when you must leave.
Try Calming Aids
An Adaptil pheromone collar, calming treats, ThunderShirt and medications can help take the edge off anxious behavior under a veterinarian’s guidance.
Get Professional Help If Needed
For extreme clinginess or anxiety that doesn’t improve, seek help from an animal behaviorist. Medication combined with desensitization training may be needed in some cases.
When To See The Vet
While some clinginess is normal, contact your veterinarian if your pregnant dog shows:
– Aggression towards family members or other pets
– Loss of appetite or lethargy
– Vomiting, diarrhea or other signs of illness
– Obsessively licking or chewing herself
– Urinating or defecating inappropriately
– Destructive behavior when left alone
These could indicate an underlying health issue or a negative emotional state requiring medication. Your vet can rule out problems and advise you on next steps.
The Importance Of Ongoing Care
While pregnancy may only last 58-68 days in dogs, caring for a nursing mother dog and her puppies is a long-term commitment. Here are some considerations:
– Pregnant and nursing dogs need 2-3 times more quality food and calories
– Consider a commercial puppy food or lactation formula
– Continue providing excellent nutrition after weaning to support recovery
– Schedule veterinary check-ups 1-2 weeks after birthing to ensure mom’s wellness
– Deworm, vaccinate and microchip puppies starting at 2 weeks old
– Spay mom within 6 months of giving birth unless intentionally breeding again
Socialization And Training
– Handle and socialize puppies daily so they grow into friendly, confident adults
– Begin house training puppies at 3-4 weeks and obedience training at 8 weeks
– Reinforce training for mom too – their bonding helps teach puppies
It’s perfectly natural for dogs to act more attached and dependent on their caregiver during pregnancy. With the hormonal and biological changes happening in her body, your dog seeks the reassurance and support of her trusted human companion. While her clingy behavior may seem demanding at times, try to respond with patience and meet her needs. This helps lower her stress, strengthens your relationship, and prepares you both for the arrival of puppies. With extra care and attention from you during this period, she can have the best possible pregnancy outcome and transition to motherhood.