We’ve talked in earlier blogs about how many, if not most, dogs “tolerate’ our hugs and kisses. Instinctively it is not a comfortable way of expressing their affection and devotion to us. Most dogs will endure our forms of love to please us. Don’t get me wrong, there are dogs that do take their own rewards from that particular expression of love. Typically that of protection from the outside. Here at our dog hotel, whenwe have a dog boarding, we learn who will look for that show of affection. And we make sure they get it. But not all will except it. For all those dogs who instinctively see it as being trapped, why not try adding in some forms of affection they’ll understand as part of thier dog language.
If you have two dogs or two cats or even a mix of a dog and a cat, you’ll recognize the affection that exists between them when grooming each other. Of course their are all sorts of other things being conveyed during the grooming. Everything from showing subservience, to the accepting of that worship and the general acknowledgement of the pack order is taking place when your pets mutually groom. Your dog when offering up gratuitous licks is generally trying to initiate this process. They are showing their affection by grooming you and we instinctively respond by petting. Take it that step further and extend the petting to belly rubs and grab a brush to give a good all over groom. If your dog can’t stay still for this process, don’t despair. Keep at it in smaller bursts and over time your dog will accept it. Often their desire to get up and switch to play is an almost embarrassment over accepting this from you their leader and their way of saying “aw shucks you dont have to do that”.
Lean on Me…..
As the pet parent of a Great Dane, I know about leaning. All our Danes have been leaners. They will literally lean against your body/legs (depending on your height ?). The fascinating thing is watching when this occurs. Mine have typically done it most when others are around. Usually as talking to a new comer in the driveway. It’s almost as though its their way of giving a little reassuring hug that lets me know they’re here for me. It’s equally interesting to watch when someone new has been given the go ahead because of their receipt of the lean. So go ahead lean on your dog, don’t crush them, but let them accept your message of trust by leaning on them now and again.
Lend me an ear
For many of us that unending patience when listening to our problems and joys of the day combined with that sympathetic look when asked if they understand where we’re coming from, is one of the most rewarding things that our dogs do for us. Well don’t feel like your going Mad and whatever you do don’t stop talking to your dog. They love it ! We all institively know that tone matters. Our dogs understand tone and when we speak harshly they experience fear, self doubt and disappointment/guilt just as you would in the same situation. So speaking in loving tones or excited tones etc., will cause the same reciprocal feeling in them. The really exciting thing is that research is revealing that Dogs understand way more than our tone. It is now widely accepted that Dogs understand a lot more of human speech than previously accepted. They really do understand a lot of what we are saying, our family pets are bilingual – able to speak Dog and understand people. So the next time you ask your dog if they “understand” what you’re saying……they just might be literally commiserating with you. Not that I needed the justification before, but now at the dog hotel I can natter away at dog boarding guests with impunity.
The look of love
Instinctively we smile and instinctively that’s a baring of teeth to dogs. Now dont fear, most family pets learn that we mean something different when we smile. Indeed it can occasionally be part of the problem with dogs who visit dog parks who have forgotten their mother tongue. But they belong to your pack and you smile and thats okay – so dont stop smiling. But maybe add a few things that instinctively speak to your dogs at a deeper level. Raising your eyebrows is a very visible facial move that dogs notice. Research shows that when dogs share soft loving looks, not staring countests which are seen as aggressive, but looks with facial expression/movement and soft eyes, both the human and dog experience an increase in oxytocin (known as the “love” hormone).
Mom’s home cooked meals
No I’m not weighing in as a proponent of any specific diet or saying you should cook your dog’s food. What I am doing is reminding you of the connection you or your spouse may have to the fond memories of your mothers cooking. Whether your Mom was a culinary star or not there is likely at least one meal or dish that you remember fondly from your childhood. It doesn’t matter how lovely the versions you’ve had since are, if its not the same as your “mom used to make”, it wont do. Much is the same with your dog and food. Feeding your dog creates a bond between you and them that they both love and respect. The routine and repetition that goes with the relationship is reassuring like Moms apple pie. Whether its the regularity of meal times, walks, receiving treats for doing the same things over and over, consistency of the rules of life; your dog appreciates the comforts and sameness of “Mom”. That “food memory” his something we see with our Dog boarding guests and our home made treats.
Oh yeah thats the spot…
Ear rubs. Ever noticed the almost lurid pleasure your dog gets when you rub their ears and actually keep doing it. Their eyes close and they may even look like they’re falling asleep. Our dear departed dog Maggie had the most dirty sounding grooaoaoaoan of pleasure that would go on the whole time you rubbed them for her. It’s a physical fact that your dogs ears are proliferated with nerve endings that when stimulated release endorphins that cause a natural doggie “high”.
So much of our relationship with our dogs is instinctual and naturally loving. Try incorporating a few or all of the tips mentioned to let them know you’re making the effort to learn Dog language, just as they work with you everyday to learn Human.