Sometimes, we – pet owners – are all well intentioned and want to show our affection and love to our furry friends. However, we need to avoid some attitudes/ behaviors, when we’re together with pets.
While you might love to show your affection, love and support most dogs do not like hugs. It doesn’t matter what are the intentions with hugging. If a dog places a paw on the back of another dog, this is considered an act of dominance. Some dogs may tolerate hugs, such as a golden retriever when a child’s arm is wrapped around him. On the other hand, there are dogs that feel threatened and fearful and an unexpected bite can occur. Another fact is that a dog can enjoy being hugged by one person but show a different reaction, when hugged by a stranger. Then, before hugging a dog, pay close attention to the body language. If the dog seems tense, keeps mouth shut and avoids eye contact, these behaviors show that he/she is uncomfortable.
Although humans think that dogs like to be petted in their face and head, this is not true. Dogs might put up with someone that they know and trust, but dogs don’t enjoy it. If you pay attention, you might notice that your dog leans away slightly, when you reach for her/his face. The dog may let you do so, because you’re the boss. As for humans, the face is an intimate and personal territory. A responsible parent teaches her/his children to pet a dog’s back or rear, but hot his/her face.
Sometimes, you want to show your disposition to approach a new dog and you smile and look at him right in the eye, unblinking. Your objective might be to get closer and to warm up. However, the dog probably will read it as an act of dominance or even aggression. Therefore, the new dog may display a submissive response or might start barking and backing up. What we can learn from this situation is that looking a dog right in the eye while approaching him is not comfortable at all. If you want to say hello, approach him with your body angled slightly, your eyes slightly averted and speaking with a gentle voice.
What all these situations teach us is that body language is essential in your communication with dogs. Be mindful of what you want to communicate and how! Doing so, you’ll improve both your understanding of your dog’s behavior and will avoid incidents.