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  • Writer's pictureLisa Evans

Every body has a body.

Updated: Jul 18, 2021

I was asked a really thoughtful considerate question, along the lines of "how do I know if my dog likes me?"

What a lovely person!

Our dogs cannot speak English but they do have a range of signs from subtle and easily missed attempts at communication through to very obvious doggy version of "eff off" (growling, barking or biting.)

Please note this is for "normal" interactions, if said canine is alone, tied up or the owner says no, please admire their awesomeness from a distance. How do you know if the dog you are patting actually likes the attention? You can simply STOP.

It is a kind of consent test - giving them the option to ask for more or to move away. By giving them the choice, you can often become the favourite because they trust that you will respect their boundaries.

This works particularly well for anxious, timid, nervous dogs or if you are not sure. By stopping and/or moving away from them, they will never need to escalate to the more obvious behaviours because the subtle ones have reached the desired outcome.

The most difficult part involves a thing not all humans are great at; checking in our egos - even the well meaning ones. If they move away or do not approach you for more, accept it and gaze upon them with pleasurable contemplation (or whatever it is you think of them, that was one example, just try not to stare like a creep)

Dogs are not public property and you do not have a right to handle them how you please. Not all dogs like a cuddle or constant physical contact. For some dogs, being in your presence is their preference.

Think of all the small dogs. They are tiny, cute, fluffy, adorable and promote borderline aggressively affectionate emotions in people who constantly pick them up. A little dog asking for space is the same as a big dog asking for space yet we do not tend to listen because of their size.

Obviously there are some very social snugglebugs who love nothing more than a cuddle with their people or any people and this piece is not referring to those rare gems. By giving them space or checking in to see if they want the action to continue, they will often enjoy attention more and sooner. They've learned it can be on their terms rather than having to stressfully tolerate rude grabby human hands all the time.

Every person has a body. Just because I have a body, doesn't mean I can touch your body. Just because I let my loved ones hug my body, doesn't mean you can hug my body. And even then, it does not mean I want to be touched all the time. If we were walking up the street and my partner said you can hug me, doesn't mean I want you to hug me...

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