NEWSFLASH: Not all dog’s enjoy being fussed. I know, right! This can be a shock to some because we automatically assume our beloved companions would enjoy sharing affection with us. And it’s likely they do but not all the time!
Ever had a day where you just need some space from other people, or even your dog? Maybe you have a headache or feel a bit stressed from something you’ve been thinking about. What if your dog secretly felt the same… how would you know? You wouldn’t, not really, but you can judge when they’re not feeling sociable. How? Through the Consent Test.
Touch can be overstimulating at times, especially if you’re already excited or stressed. So to test if the animal wants to be touched we can get on their level and invite them to us with our body language. If we don’t know the dog well I would wait until that dog approached rather than inviting them, because sometimes that can feel a bit pressuring should they be secretly nervous.
If the dog has approached with a soft wiggly body and soft facial expressions, offer a soft stroke to their shoulder but avoid reaching over their head where they can lose sight of your hand. Casually stroke and remove your hand, now watch – does the dog lean into you or do they look away or move away?
If they haven’t leant into you then you can pretty much be sure that in that moment in time that dog is saying ‘Not now, thank you’. This can be hard to hear if you’re not used to seeing your dog refuse affection, but trust that they may not feel like that later. If they are always refusing affection i’d book a visit to the vet to make sure they’re not silently managing some physical discomfort. Dogs can be so stoic can’t they?
You will know when the dog wants more, they always make that clear. But remember they can change their mind and sometimes they only prefer a little fuss. Continue to test their consent to being touched in this way and you’ll have a much better relationship with your dog – all dogs for that matter. See, it’s not about dog whispering, it’s about listening.
Teaching young people how to interact with animals in this way can save them from getting bitten, and it’s a fun way of learning how to talk with the animals
Try this with your dog and let us know what you found. Did they say no and then change their mind? Did they say yes and then decide they’d had enough?
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