Love My Dog, Love Bleeding Wrists

I think I have covered most of Shiva’s Shiva-isms by now. From her fearful avoidance of puddles to her crazy, crooked ears. There is one thing she has always done, however, that I haven’t talked about much. Probably because I am not really sure why she does it.

When being pet, Shiva has this weird habit of throwing a leg or a paw over the petter’s arm. You may think it’s simply cute but it’s not always a light touch. She lays it on a person quite heavily and has been known to dig her nails right in. Which usually makes me stop petting her and lower my arm while wincing in pain.

Originally, I wondered if this was her purpose. That maybe she puts up her leg because she doesn’t want to be touched. If true, this is inconsistent with the rest of her behaviour, and her mannerisms in general. As soon as I lower my arm and cry oufor mercy, she will start licking my hand to get me to resume petting. When Shiva doesn’t want pets, she is pretty good at ducking out of the way or squirming from under my hands. She is confident enough to just walk away when uninterested. Sometimes she’ll just give me a look like I am embarrassing her, such as anytime I try to show affection outside of the house.

“Not now! Ugh. Other dogs are watching. Jeez!”

She doesn’t do the leg thing with everyone who pets her either. Mostly just family or others she really trusts. I’ve only seen her sling her leg over three arms that weren’t either mine or my PH’s. Apparently if she leaves welts in your skin, it means you’re in with the Shivster.

Those aren’t painful scratches. They are scars of love.

Do other dogs do this? I really only have my childhood dog to go by and she was an incredibly independent husky. (I know, an independent husky, fanciers of the breed are stunned.) Shiva is the only dog I have been around for any length of time that regularly solicits physical affection. Maybe this behaviour is normal and I am just over thinking it. (I know, me over thinking things, family members of mine are stunned.) It’s just another thing that makes Shiva a Shiva, I guess.

Do your dogs have any odd quirks that you don’t understand?

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29 Comments on Love My Dog, Love Bleeding Wrists

  1. Jenn
    June 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm (2 years ago)

    Obviously she’s trying to dominate you. You need to alfa roll that ungrateful runt, stat!


    Mufaasa does the exact same thing. He comes over, I pet him and he places the nearest paw on my arm or knee. He doesn’t dig in, thankfully, but sometimes he lets it slide off, which is less fun. Every time he does it I say thank you and pet him some more, so I think it’s just one of those things I taught him without really meaning to.
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    • Kristine
      June 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm (2 years ago)

      Hahaha! Dang it, you’re right! It all started when I let her enter the house before me, I am sure.

      I didn’t think of it that way before, that it could have been something I taught or rewarded. If I drop my arm and then resume petting, she’ll often just put her leg right back up there. I guess I could just stop petting her if she does it but I don’t mind the pain THAT much. ;-)

  2. Jodi
    June 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm (2 years ago)

    Kristine, Sampson does the same thing! He has really large paws and I am constantly wearing these ‘badges of honor.’ This is the very reason I do not take him to nursing homes or push him to be a therapy dog. I can only imagine those paws on the thin, delicate skin of an elderly person.

    When he does this I usually say, “OW” and remove my hand. I should point out that he is soliciting affection and I AM petting him so I can’t figure this out. I am interested to hear what others have to say about this.

    I’m thinking wrist guards….:-)
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  3. Sue
    June 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm (2 years ago)

    Song doesn’t do this, but Maggie (My dad’s old Staffy) does sometimes. Don’t know why.

  4. Ximena
    June 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm (2 years ago)

    Elli does this ALL the time. I’ve observed it only when I have food on me or am enjoying a plateful of non-sharing-because-I’m-selfish-food. She does it at the dinner table (while also trying very hard to duck out of the way of the incoming hand) to anyone (even new people) who tries to pet her while she is attempting to telepathically make the food on the table float into her mouth.

    I definitely think it’s a Don’t Pet Me Now thing. Particularly if it’s on her head. General rule: dogs don’t like their heads touched. Our dogs are just nice enough to tell us with their paws and not their teeth. ;)
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  5. Anna
    June 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm (2 years ago)

    I have heard of it too, and for most dogs it happens when they IMO are asking for affection… kinda like a kid tugging on your pants when you don’t notice them. But as you said it kinda doesn’t match with her other body signs. So I really have no ideas on the reason. BUT I have an idea

    Maybe you can target her NOT putting her paw up, and maybe teach her to touch something else if she just NEEDS to touch something. Maybe a foot? It’s kinda like Luna wanting to do little love bites with her greetings and this not always being something everyone enjoys…. so I taught her to pick up something to dance and woo with as she greets people instead of using her mouth. And she still does this when anyone comes in the door. So maybe you could start targeting her NOT pawing you… and or get her to paw/rest her paw on your foot/knee. Something. Just a random idea.
    Good luck!

  6. Kelly Daniel
    June 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm (2 years ago)

    My young BC has just started doing this…..
    I reckon it’s to give better access for a tummy scratch. Hey could be worse…. My older husky BC cross Brody when getting patted turns around and pushes his butt into you and wiggles because he loves a scratch on the top of his back / tail, and if he’s really getting into it does stampy feet. Pretty funny when someone else pats him to see him twist around, push his but into them and wiggle around and stamp hisnfeet with a strange look of pleasure on his face…
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  7. Laura
    June 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm (2 years ago)

    Our pit mix Daisy does this when I pet her – not all the time but sometimes. She is clearly not telling me to stop petting her as she will walk away or turn away when she doesn’t want to be touched. I always assumed it was her way of saying ‘nice, good job, don’t stop. I’ll let you know when I’m done with you.’ But it’s good to know that some other pups are doing it too. She’s got some quirks that we often wonder how to interpret.

  8. Sammy Sam
    June 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Kristine, I sometimes put my leg up as if to hold my dad or mum back from leaning in too close to me when I’m lying on my side. But really it’s to brace myself while they rub my belly. We’re not really sure why Shiva does that – maybe it’s her way of connecting with you and others she knows well and loves on a deeper level. And the bleeding or welts, well I guess she doesn’t realize that she’s hurting anyone with her gesture.
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  9. Jen
    June 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm (2 years ago)

    Leroy does the same thing to me, although more often than not he misses. The time that he does land his paw on my wrist it feels like he is pulling my shoulder out of the socket because he is anything but delicate about it! I just don’t pet him anymore. (kidding)
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  10. Pamela
    June 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm (2 years ago)

    I’m with Jodi. I’d start making wrist guards in splashy prints and bright colors.

    Honey likes to jump up and put both her paws around our arm to keep herself balanced longer.

    And I think you’re right that Shiva is just showing a quirk. Like the way my brother-in-laws mom always looks out at the beach with her hands pressed into the small of her back and her elbows out. Or the way my sister twirls her hair. Everyone has their “thing.”

    Just be careful. An overenthusiastic psych major seeing those scars could put you on suicide watch.
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  11. Sandy
    June 1, 2012 at 6:14 pm (2 years ago)

    Yes all of my dogs do this and some with more vigor than others. My Vet’s theory–in some fashion they are trying to pet us too. Mine will do this as you say while I am petting them and I too would stop thinking they wanted me to stop but that was not either.

    • Monica Curtis
      June 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm (2 years ago)

      Sometimes we can not understand our dogs.They have their own attitude and it makes us feel and understand them better just like a person.
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  12. Georgia Little Pea
    June 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm (2 years ago)

    Georgia does it too but not quite so painfully! She saves the deep gouging for when she wants to get my attention away from something…like blogging.

    First step, nose or head under the arm to push it up. If that doesn’t work, claws out and gouge arm. After that, step back, whinge and bark so I can’t think. She’s very methodical.

    I sort of agree with Daniel and Sammy Sam. A paw on the hand usually ends with a tummy scratch or chest massage :)
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  13. Jen
    June 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm (2 years ago)

    Sometimes, when Elka hops up on the couch next to you and invites affection, she’ll then put her paws against you, straight legged, and push as you pet. She isn’t pushing you away; as you say, she’ll duck or just go away if she doesn’t want to be pet. But she’ll sure stiff leg you (and yes, it can hurt!)
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  14. Sarah
    June 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm (2 years ago)

    I think Shiva’s just trying to pet you back. :) Maggie does this sometimes. Giving her affection is a full contact sport. We call it aggressive lovin’.
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  15. Peggy Frezon
    June 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm (2 years ago)

    Kelly has never done this but our new dog Brooks does! When Brooks does it, he also looks back over his shoulder. It’s funny, but he obviously LOVES being petted so I guess it’s just his thing.
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  16. Julie
    June 1, 2012 at 10:51 pm (2 years ago)

    Cali used to do it when she was a puppy and our trainer told us to put it on command – so we taught her “touch” and then we never gave her the command and she stopped doing it . . .maybe she grew out of it, but we thought we were pretty smart :)
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  17. AJ
    June 2, 2012 at 12:31 am (2 years ago)

    Jack is another one of the pooches who shares this quirk, and yep – it’s painful. And if I remove my hand from the clutches of his paw, he will do it again, and again, and again…
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  18. matthew
    June 2, 2012 at 3:14 am (2 years ago)

    I am the father of two miniature schnauzers, sisters, one year apart. 2 and a 1/2 and 1 and a 1/2 repectedly. Josephine and Fiona. They both do this! I don’t know if the youngest learned this characteristic from the older one, but I find it so endearing nonetheless. Although they do not grip that hard, the look in their eyes is so unconditional and full of love. Thanks for sharing!

  19. jet
    June 2, 2012 at 6:57 am (2 years ago)

    I’ve never come across this before. It does look incredibly cute. I guess you could take to wearing long sleeves all the time ;)
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  20. Donna and the Dogs
    June 2, 2012 at 9:32 am (2 years ago)

    Meadow uses her paws like that, and she uses them a lot in play with the other dogs too. She scratches too though, so I started refusing to per her unless she put her paw down…she’s better, but the behavior still crops up from time to time.

    Glad you took the time to watch her behaviors and make sure she does like petting. Not everyone does that!! Shiva’s got a great Mommy. :-)
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  21. 2 Punk Dogs
    June 2, 2012 at 1:02 pm (2 years ago)

    Duke does this too! He usually pokes us with his paw if we stop petting him, and will put his paw over an arm while being petted, as if to keep us from stopping. We’ve started to tell him no and will stop petting until he stops poking us. He seems to be figuring it out. Duke also likes to nose honk us for attention, and has nearly dropped me a few times with a hard nose honk to the back of the knee.
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  22. Kolchak & Jodi
    June 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm (2 years ago)

    ACK! Felix does this and my left wrist is actually laced with scars from his first few days with us, when his nails were far too long for his (and my) own good. He only does it when he’s really enjoying a scratch or when I’m ignoring him. It’s usually a precursor to him flopping over for a belly rub.
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  23. haopee
    June 4, 2012 at 12:01 am (2 years ago)

    Oh my gosh! Yes, Peanuts does something like that!

    She would place her front leg on my arm and dig her nails in. I’m guessing it’s to better grip us with. She usually does that when she’s trying to tell me something or simply catch my attention. She even does that while my back is turned away from them and facing the computer. She’d then look at me as if saying, “Woman, I need you to feed me human food not kibbles.”

    Huggies and Cheese,

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  24. Amy@GoPetFriendly
    June 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm (2 years ago)

    Buster does this too, but thankfully he’s gentle about it. He started do it when he was nervous about something – like me putting his car harness on. I thought he was kind of reminding me to go slow and also comforting himself by touching me. There isn’t much that he gets nervous about anymore, and now he does it when I’m petting him. I think for him it’s the equivalent of holding hands.
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  25. lauren
    June 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm (2 years ago)

    Aww, I do think that’s beyond cute, though I understand why you’d be like, “Really, Shiva? Wow.”

    Desmond has done similar things, mostly with my husband (I am convinced he’s the favorite), but in general, this dog wants to be all up on you or in you or around you or under you–regardless of whether or not it’s comfortable or painful for you.
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