I’m not tactile. I don’t like hugs.
I don’t really like hugs from anyone but my immediate family members. Even my really good friends don’t hug me!
I can’t actually remember a time when I did enjoy hugs.
Nothing ever happened to me to make me dislike hugs; my parents were fabulous, I never had a negative experience with a hug, I simply don’t like them!
When I tell people that I don’t like hugs they generally accept that. No questions, no sideways glances, no “wow, that’s strange!” People just accept that this is part of my PERSONALITY; I’m just not tactile!
So why is it so different when it comes to physical affection and our canine companions?
If a dog approaches us we immediately assume that they want a pat or some form of physical affection, so as soon as the dog gets within patting range away we go! BUT is this really what the dog wants? Most people will say ‘yes’, however I beg to differ. In my opinion many dogs approach an unfamiliar, or sometimes even a familiar person to seek information; where have you been, what did you have for breakfast….. after all this is the dogs way of familiarising or re-familiarising themselves with a person. As humans we converse using verbal communication, dogs sniff!
When I leave my house in the morning to my dogs I smell like me, however when I come home at night I smell very different! I carry all new information on me!
Could this be a reason that many dogs become over excited when meeting a person or greeting their people when they come home? Mouthing, jumping….. Maybe! Maybe they quickly work out that if they jump or mouth you will be still, tuck your ‘patting sticks’ away and allow them access to all that fabulous information you carry!
So next time a dog approaches you try:
- Standing still and allowing them to become familiar with you before you go to pat them. Does the dog sniff you then walk away?
- Wait for the dog to ‘ask’ for a pat; by nuzzling your hand, sidle up and lean on you with soft eye contact.
- Gently stroke the dog on the shoulder closest to you 2 or 3 times then wait to see if the dog seeks more.
Here’s a clear video showing you the signs of when your dog is happy for a pat and when he’s not.
Head Trainer, Kalmpets Animal Behaviour Centre
Ed’s note: This article was originally written for this blog post, and republished here by kind permission. If you are in Western Australia, and would like to find out more from Tracey about KalmPets and their services, please visit their website, or call Tracey on 9240 2228, or email email@example.com