‘Me Too’ for Dogs?

I was lying on the sofa, just thinking, observing my own dogs doing their own thing.

They have their casual hello code. They may politely acknowledge a dog they happen to approach or to pass by.

Humans however regularly break the hello code when approaching a resting dog. This a is a code they are unlikely to break with another human. It involves respect.

Of all the species, many of us assume dogs ‘should’ accept if not actively enjoy being touched/molested by us.

‘Me To’ for dogs?

How dogs do it.

Each of my dogs has his or her particular inter-relationships with another, but whatever that is, manners are observed.

The resting dog mostly ignores the one approaching or walking past.

At most, the passing dog may have a gentle sniff of the body and a gentle lick of the face. He or she is alert for any subtle message saying ‘no thanks’.

My peace-loving Labrador Zara may arc around a sleeping GSD Milly. If wanting to engage, she will roll onto her back in front of her.

Cocker Spaniel Pickle may also approach her, wriggling onto his side, tail wagging, then offering her his bits to sniff. Unlike Zara, he’s merely acting submissive I’m sure. It’s manners.

If they want the attention of the resting dog, they may bow and entice. There is unlikely to be any more than the lightest of physical contact (puppies would be given leeway as they learn).

Other hellos between my four dogs when one is lying down are mostly a brief face-to-face sniff, maybe a body sniff and then move on.

One dog may stop and settle beside the other. There is little equivalent to stroking or touching it. At most there is a gentle lick of face or in ears, always sensitive to whether the attention is welcome or not.

Not even my impetuous Pickle will say hello by pawing a resting dog, barking at it or jumping on it!

But what do we humans do?

We approach our lying, sitting or sleeping dog, completely breaking break the dog hello code. No ‘sounding the dog out’ for how he feels. Without warning, a big human paw roughs up the fur. The human is noisy.

The human may even force him from his comfortable spot.

Some dogs may quietly grumble. Then we humans then think we have an aggressive dog.

A dog may have to absorb a lot of human emotion, love, demonstrativeness and so on. Many dogs love it. It can however be hard for a more introvert or nervous dog.

‘Me Too’ for Dogs, I say!

About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist (INTODogs - ICAN Companion Animal Behaviourist) and trainer covering Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks, a 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site: www.dogidog.co.uk
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