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Monday, April 9, 2012

Love and Hugs are not the same

We signed on today to blog about something else...actually an update to Bode (good news)...however while we were at the vet Tara heard a story about how a major news show and a major dog food company have teamed up to host "Hug your Dog Day" tomorrow, so now we want to talk about that.

What?? A national movement to put people, children, in a place that causes the most facial bites and dogs so much discomfort? Those "hugs" usually include a squeeze...we cringe even writing that. Yes, we are saying it is not ok to hug all dogs. Yes, we realize we are dogs, but do you realize dogs are dogs and not humans or any form of primate?

 Bode (c) Delta Family Counseling, 2012

We love our humans as much as they love us...clients included. Our love is different though. Each dog is different. As we write this, we are having a discussion about what each of us like and it's not always the same (our foster brother is chiming in too)! Bode likes to ask for hugs in his own way from some people, but usually those he is closest to. Abbey never wants to be hugged, but tolerates it. Most dogs tolerate to a certain extent, but if you don't know how to speak our language and read our signs, you might miss when you cross the line.  Have you ever noticed that dogs don't hug each other?

Abbey (c) Delta Family Counseling, LLC

To greet other dogs you may see us do things that would be considered "rude" for you to do to another human and that is just how we feel about the hug. We may sniff the rear of a new dog (even one we know). If you watch, we approach from the side and not front. We may not make great eye contact. (Tara says to point you to Dr. Sophia Yin's page with free downloads on our body language and more--she uses these with the rescue we foster for: Dr Sophia Yin Downloads)

Don't get us wrong, we love contact with humans, but in our own way. There is research that shows the benefit to us (and you) from the contact. Tara says it's called our "oxytocin levels" that increase and give us the warm fuzzy feeling. There is more and more research on this coming out, but we already know how it feels and leave all that "research/reading" stuff to Tara.

So what do we like? We (the canine and human therapists at our practice) teach this to all the clients when they first come in. Most dogs like a positive, safe greeting that is not spontaneous and is controlled for all involved. Do not come (especially running or loudly) straight on. Approaching our side shows us you understand our needs. Letting us come up to you is preferred. Sudden movements, especially an open palm face down will cause us to startle. Gentle rubs/tickles on our chin is a great start.

"Rub my belly" (c) Delta Family Counseling, LLC

Like we said, we are different. Abbey will greet you and instantly roll on her side as she wants you to rub her belly as a greeting and then will usually give you lots of licks. Bode will nudge your hand once he has sniffed you and have you rub his head and top of his snout. Sometimes he will lick you too. Once there is increased comfort with a person, this greeting may change, but not at first. As we stated early, there are some people Bode seeks hugs from, but he doesn't want you to wrap your arms around him and squeeze, he nuzzles his head in between your arm and body and curves into you. That is his version of a hug (or with Tara, he will jump (under cue) onto two feet and place his hands on her shoulders.

We don't walk up and just offer a paw (c) Delta Family Counseling, LLC

So, how do we handle this? Respect your dog and dogs you meet. See if you can learn from the links provided here how to better communicate with your dog and build your relationship. Share photos of positive dog/human interactions. Talk with a trainer if you need more information. A great book on human/dog interaction is The Other End of the Leash: Amazon link to The Other End of The Leash

Dog Bite Prevention week is approaching (ironically) in May and Doggone Safe has some great information about how by educating the humans, we can save more canines (many are put to death for a bite, even if it was provoked): Doggone Safe

While we admit it is hard to judge from a still picture on the dogs communication, many show what is considered stress in the dog. Isn't the ultimate goal for mutual love, even if it means no hugs?

We would love to create some dialogue with this blog. Please comment and share to help spread the important message. If we see other blogs doing the same, we will share here.

~~Abbey and Bode

**A BIG thanks to Rise Van Fleet of Playful Pooch for her recent training that reminded us of many of these things and taught us even more! Playful Pooch


Rise VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC said...

We're so glad you dogs are helping people learn more about what you like and don't like. It's easy to miscommunicate because people and dogs speak rather different languages. Great blog, you two!!
Rise, Corky, Jagen, Kirrie, Pugsy, and Katie

Gail said...

Awesome information! Thanks~ I am constantly teaching this to my students and to the people with intellectual and developmental differences that I work with. I use Doggone Safe materials, especially the large flash cards which shows the face of a Newfoundland being hugged by a little girl (a picture speaks a thousand words)
I would like to subscribe to your blog - thanks!