Translating Canine Body Language: Affection Isn’t Always Affection

Ever since I read this post on No Dog About It regarding a deeper understanding of dog behaviour, I have been carefully observing the way Shiva and I interact in a physical way. It’s been an interesting process. I’ve always tried to pay attention to her signals and I feel she is pretty good at telling me when she doesn’t want to be pet. Space is something of which I am very mindful as it is something I like to preserve for myself. Being private and somewhat of a loner, I don’t appreciate a lot of unexpected touching. I like to think I respect my dog’s wishes in this area as much as possible.

Then again, with such a cute face in front of me, and such soft ears, it can be hard to put all my tactile urges aside. I am human, after all, with a need to connect with whom I love. I can’t talk to Shiva and get her to relate to me that way; touching seems to be the best alternative.

But does she always welcome this? That’s what I want to understand.

When I consider our previous interactions, I do think Shiva lets me know when she wants petting and when it is the last thing on her mind. For instance, I know she is not a fan of public displays. Anytime we are out of the house and I reach out to scratch her ears, she pulls away. In agility class, when I try to stroke her side as we wait our turn on the sidelines, she immediately leaps up and away from my reaching hand. However, at home, behind closed doors, she often seems to seek out physical affection. At least as far as I can tell.

It’s hard to be objective about this sort of thing. I can’t really separate my emotions. I get a lot out of petting my animal companions so it’s natural that I assume (hope??) they do too. When I give affection, I want it to be interpreted with all my intended love. It would be awful to think my animals would rather duck and cover.

I shot some video footage and I’d love to hear what you think Shiva is trying to tell me. The scenes in the video below were taped about half an hour after I returned home from work. Just enough time for Shiva to have calmed down but before her nightly walk.

In contrast, I will also share a video of my attempts to show my affection for The Cat. I won’t say what I think he is trying to tell me but in my opinion he is even better at setting his boundaries than Shiva. Cats are awesome that way, aren’t they?

Are your pets good at communicating when they like to be touched?

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61 Comments on Translating Canine Body Language: Affection Isn’t Always Affection

  1. Leslie
    February 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm (1 year ago)

    LOL – well, like most dogs, I believe Shiva likes to have her bum scratched.

    I think she likes to be touched. She definitely seems eager in the beginning of the video. I do think towards the middle, when she’s down on the ground, she wants you to give up on the petting and get on with the playing. ;)

    And yes, I think Mr. Kitty is perfectly adept in his communication skills.
    Leslie recently posted..Wordless Wednesday 77 – On the sidelinesMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:20 pm (1 year ago)

      You know, it’s funny but I never really thought she was a bum scratch lover until now. The video has proved me very wrong! Shiva’s poor neglected behind, all these years… ;-)

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:21 pm (1 year ago)

      Yep, he’s never had an issue communicating, verbally or visually. Even the dog can pick up on his obvious signals – not that she always pays attention!

  2. jan
    February 6, 2013 at 11:06 pm (1 year ago)

    Love the videos. My cat has an uncanny sense of when I am the busiest (deadline looming, etc) and demands, yes demands attention. She crawls on the keyboard, jumps on my lap, leaps on the table and rubs against me. If I try to ignore her the soft paw reaches out and if I still try, a claw gently emerges.

    After a few minutes, she’s satisfied and goes on about her catly business wanting no further intimacy until she decides.

    Yes, she is a master communicator.
    jan recently posted..A pet turtle—you can’t take it for a walk or play fetch and it could make you very sickMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm (1 year ago)

      That’s one of the things I love most about cats. Everything is pretty clear with them and you know when they really do like you. It’s always an honour when my cat chooses to lay down near me. I feel like I am in the presence of royalty.

  3. Donna
    February 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm (1 year ago)

    Cats definitely let you know when they don’t want to be bothered. I clearly heard him say “No” when you first picked him up! LOL!

    As for Shiva, it looked to me like she loved your affection, and the only time she really pulled away was when she was inviting you to play. Toby loves the butt scritching thing too, and will alternate between getting his head pet and his butt scritched. I think he doesn’t know which he likes more. :-)

    Leah is not a snuggler, at all, and I try very hard to respect that. As best as I can for a human that is. :-)

    And while Meadow really loves close contact, there are times where I feel she just wants to lean on me but not get pet, and I do my best to respect that too.

    I think it’s great that you take the time to evaluate if Shiva really likes your attention. I can see a dog not wanting to be bothered with that sort of thing in class. “Mom, what will all the other dogs think? Besides, we’re supposed to be working!” :-)

    I forget which trainer wrote it, (and I really wish I could remember to give credit where credit’s due), but one trainer I read said the best way to tell is to just pet your dog for a moment or two and then stop, and see if they turn back to you for more affection. Also, keep an eye out if they pull away from physical contact, which is another indicator that they might not be enjoying it.
    Donna recently posted..A Dog’s AppealMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm (1 year ago)

      Yeah… But I picked him up anyway. No wonder he often runs when he sees me coming! Over the years he has learned it’s faster to submit and get it over with. Poor, abused, little kitty. :-P

      I love that everyone thinks Shiva wanted to play during the second snippet! She might have but I actually had a couple of treats in my lap at the time. I was trying to get her to act like she does when she doesn’t want to be pet but it didn’t quite work. Instead she just kept offering different behaviours in order to get the food. Ah well, it looked cute anyway.

      I like the trainer’s advice and I am glad you shared it. It’s something I have tried to keep in mind when I am meeting a new dog. With my own pets I don’t worry as much about bugging them on occasion, we tolerate each other’s quirks after all, but with a new dog I try very hard to respect his boundaries.

      The hardest time for me is when Shiva is sleeping. It’s so hard to leave her alone even though I know she doesn’t want to be touched. She just looks so cute!

    • Therese
      August 19, 2013 at 3:32 am (12 months ago)

      Donna – the trainer whose name you cannot recall is Eileenanddogs who recently uploaded a video to Youtube on “Does your dog really want to be pet! :)

  4. Jessica
    February 6, 2013 at 11:49 pm (1 year ago)

    Hmm. Videos aren’t showing up on my mac on either of my browsers, so I can’t really help.

    I will say, Silas is always pretty clear when he doesn’t want to be petted. He is not afraid to just dodge. Usually with a look on his face that I interpret as “Are you crazy, lady?” Or, with strangers, he’ll bark or paw at them when they reach toward him. When he wants to be petted he head butts like a cat. Pet me NOW he says. I guess I’ve rewarded him for being rude, because he does it so rarely that I just give in. Or, he’ll gradually lean in until you’re holding his entire weight.
    Jessica recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: A good roll in the parkMy Profile

    • melF
      February 7, 2013 at 1:19 am (1 year ago)

      Hey Jessica – I had the same problem. Found the solution by googling “embedded videos not showing in Safari”. It took me a couple of tries, but after doing almost everything – emptying cache, deleting cookies and uninstalling and reinstalling Adobe Flashplayer I got them to work. I would see if it is your browser or the flasplayer causing the problem.
      melF recently posted..Wordless Wednesday #127My Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm (1 year ago)

      I am sorry the videos weren’t working for you! I imagine it’s something to do with Youtube.

      I am glad you shared your thoughts on Silas, anyway. Shiva does the same thing when strangers try to pet her at the dog park. With me she will usually just duck her head or leap away but she will often bark if a stranger reaches out to touch her. Usually they get the hint.

      Silas cracks me up. It’s hard not to reward them when they are being so funny! Sometimes I don’t even realize I am petting my dog because she will just shove her head under my hand.

      • Jessica
        February 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm (1 year ago)

        Looks like it was on my end, in fact–I updated some widget or another, and now they show up.

        She does remind me a lot of Silas in the video. “Pet me!” “Okay, play with me!” “Oh, alright, petting is okay too.” She does look happy to be interacting with you the whole time, which is a very good thing.

        I’m glad someone else’s dog barks at being petted. It’s sooooo embarrassing, so it’s nice to know we’re not alone.
        Jessica recently posted..Product Review: K9 Closet Smoothie Tag CollarMy Profile

  5. melF
    February 7, 2013 at 12:00 am (1 year ago)

    Poop! The videos don’t show up for me. I would love to add my two cents. Did something go wrong?

    I’m touched that my post and the video made such an impact on you. I have been thinking about it a lo in relation to my dogs too. Suzanne opened my eyes to so much. I wish I could go learn from her full time.

    I’ll come back and try to see the videos again this weekend. Thanks Kristine!
    melF recently posted..Wordless Wednesday #127My Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for sharing the original post, Mel! It was eye-opening for me in a lot of ways. When it comes to making our dogs comfortable, it’s important to be informed. I am also fascinated by all the subtle signals in dog behaviour and really love watching examples of this kind of thing. Yay for dog geekery!

  6. melF
    February 7, 2013 at 12:13 am (1 year ago)

    Well, it appears to be a Mac issue. I can’t see the videos on my own blog either. Maybe a WordPress+Mac issue? It’s kind of freaking me out to be honest. At least you aren’t alone. Now how to resolve it?
    melF recently posted..Wordless Wednesday #127My Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm (1 year ago)

      It’s great your dogs feel comfortable enough to communicate so clearly!

  7. melF
    February 7, 2013 at 1:24 am (1 year ago)

    Shiva likes the attention for sure. I see she is a big fan of butt scratches too. :)
    Jasper loves them as well.

    Mr. Kitty was less enthused, but my experience with cats has shown me that they want attention on their own time. LOL!

    Cool to see the comparisons!
    How about a video outside next time? I would love to see how Shiva is when she doesn’t want the affection.
    melF recently posted..Wordless Wednesday #127My Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm (1 year ago)

      The Cat never wants attention, at least not the physical kind. He likes to be seen but not touched. My hands just mess up his mane, or something.

      I can try for an outside video. It’s so hard to stage something like this! In the second part when everyone thought Shiva was wanting to play, I was trying to get her to show what she does when she doesn’t want pets by placing a few treats in my lap to distract her. It kind of backfired, though. Oh well!

  8. rachel
    February 7, 2013 at 5:20 am (1 year ago)

    I think she looks happy about the attention, but also wants to play. Maybe because it is time for her walk. And the cat really cracked me up!

    Kaya & Norman never tire of attention at home, they often sit on top of each other for the spot next to me on the couch. There are obviously more distractions outside, but if I crouch down they get excited and come over for a kiss. They get way more excited about attention from new people when we’re out.

    I’m on a mac and the videos work fine btw!
    rachel recently posted..KAYA’S BRUSH WITH DEATHMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm (1 year ago)

      That is adorable! I can just picture the scene. Sometimes it can be irritating when you are trying to do something else, like write a blog post, but it’s hard not to indulge them when they are seeking affection.

      Glad we could entertain!

  9. Gizmo (@GizmoGeodog)
    February 7, 2013 at 9:11 am (1 year ago)

    I had also seen the post on No Dog About It and tried the test with Gizmo…He’s very clear in his signals

    I guess I see what everyone else is…Shiva likes the attention and the pets, but after a bit would rather play & is trying hard to get you to enter a game with her…But she never pulls away or shows the signs of rejection that the dog in the test videos had shown

    Cat is also very clear…He is not loving the cuddling…In my experience when cats want petting they’ll ask for it on their own terms…Does yours ever jump in your lap or otherwise demand physical attention?
    Gizmo (@GizmoGeodog) recently posted..DAVIS ISLANDS DOG PARK, TAMPA FLORIDA–TRAVEL THURSDAYMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm (1 year ago)

      The Cat has never once voluntarily sat in my lap. He won’t even sit beside me on the couch. Sometimes in the morning he will lay on the bed with me before I get up. But only if I don’t move and don’t try to touch him. He won’t attack me if I force my affection on him, as in the video, but he obviously doesn’t like it either!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. Ann Paws
    February 7, 2013 at 11:16 am (1 year ago)

    Looks like she enjoys it to me! I think she would rather be playing in that one clip during the video though. My dog scoots her butt towards me and starts shaking it when she wants it to be scratched. The cat’s reaction was pretty funny lol.
    Ann Paws recently posted..The Honest Kitchen – Human Grade Food Made for DogsMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm (1 year ago)

      Hahahaha! Love the butt wiggle, that is too cute.

  11. Peggy Frezon
    February 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm (1 year ago)

    To me, Shiva’s telling you she wants to play. Even when she backs up a little, she’s giving you space to get down on the ground and get rough and tumble. Do you do that? Sometimes I do roll around on the ground with Kelly and Brooks! They love it!
    I wish I was better at understanding dog body language, especially between the two dogs.
    I don’t think I’ll ever understand cats.
    Peggy Frezon recently posted..Puppy Love- Westie Pup meets Orange KittyMy Profile

  12. Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes
    February 7, 2013 at 12:37 pm (1 year ago)

    Leslie, Donna, and Peggy all picked up on Shiva’s desire to play as different from her desire to be pet. I think they’re right on the money. And yes, butt scratches are the best.

    Humans also really love to pet dogs on the top of their head but many dogs don’t seem to like it. I’ve redirected my attention to Honey’s (and other dogs’) chests and find they seem to like it better.

    It’s good to be reminded to continually pay attention. Honey is very affectionate and loves being groomed and pet. But she doesn’t always want to be pet either. So I, like you, try to keep my intense need to pet her to myself.

    I also find that many dogs just like being close without being stroked–especially while watching tv or reading. I wonder they’re just remembering being in a puppy pile with their litter mates.
    Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes recently posted..Fostering from a Dog’s Point of ViewMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm (1 year ago)

      That’s an interesting thought. Shiva usually lays beside me on the couch in the morning after our walk and then at night before bed. She is laying beside me right now. :-) But in these moments she rarely touches me or seeks out physical affection. I think you are right in that they like to be close but that often touching in these moments can be a bit of an irritation. If I was to pet her right now I think she would accept it but it would be more tolerating me than actually enjoying it.

  13. Crystal
    February 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm (1 year ago)

    She looks like she enjoys your attention for sure. I think the only thing she might not totally be loving is having her ears ruffled, as she immediately offers you a different part of her to pet instead.
    Crystal recently posted..Weight Pull PracticeMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for pointing that out, I didn’t notice that myself. I appreciate your more objective point of view!

  14. lexy
    February 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm (1 year ago)

    hah, so cute how she interacts with you. I’d definitely say that she’s enjoying the affection, but is also quite ready to play. Gwynn will get up and leave me, to go lie down somewhere else when he’s done with getting pettings.
    lexy recently posted..The RunaroundMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm (1 year ago)

      Can’t be more clear than that. It’s great Gwynn has that space he can retreat to when he is done and wants some alone time. I think it’s important to respect that as well. I try to leave Shiva alone when she curls up on her own bed. It’s so rare she sleeps on it that I assume she needs some space when she does.

  15. Blueberry's human
    February 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm (1 year ago)

    Shiva is loving the attention and is inviting you for a wrestling/play session towards the end there!

    LOL – The Cat is hilarious – I don’t think it could be any clearer that you must keep your distance. I find that if a cat senses you are allergic – that’s when they get up in your face and insist on a good pet session. I think it’s their way of testing just how allergic I really am! These are friends’ cats, as I do not have any currently.

    Blueberry LOVES to be cuddled and stroked and lets me know by slumping up against me or getting into my lap and rolling on her back so I can snuggle her and give her a good belly rub. I’m almost always the first one to pull away cause she’ll wear my arms out!

    I think Shiva is like a teenager – no public display of affection because (gasp!) someone might think she actually likes having you as a her personal caretaker!
    Blueberry’s human recently posted..OdditiesMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm (1 year ago)

      It’s true. In my opinion, cats always seem to gravitate toward those who don’t like them. For instance, when my dad was visiting our cat would not leave him alone. My dad is NOT a cat person. I don’t think he’s ever been around them before in his life. He didn’t know what to do when my cat plonked down beside him or rubbed against his arm. It made me laugh. I think one of the reasons he ignores me is because I love him so much. But I can’t help it!

      Blueberry is sweet. Belly rubs are of course the best things ever. :-)

  16. Jodi
    February 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm (1 year ago)

    Oh yes, she loved the petting and then she wanted playing as well. Both my dogs love to be petted. Sampson craves it, you could pet him 24 hours a day, in fact there are nights when I wake up and roll over casually rubbing my hand on him, only to have him encourage me to give more.

    Delilah has learned to love petting (she didn’t when we first got her) although she doesn’t crave it the same way Sampson does, but she is very clear in when she wants it.

    Your kitty was very clear in his communicating skills, I wish my co-worker was half as clear as your kitty, it would make my job so much easier.
    Jodi recently posted..This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm (1 year ago)

      I think it has been a learning process with Shiva too. She used to never want to cuddle or be touched while hanging out at night. Now she tolerates it when I use her butt as a pillow. She may not love it, but she doesn’t make any objections.

      Sampson is such a sweetheart. In so many ways he is the dog I wanted before I ended up with a wackadoodle. What a cutie he is. It’s great how he and Delilah balance each other out. They make such a fun pair.

      Your crack about co-workers was awesome. Humans have a lot to learn from our pets, that is for sure!

  17. Taryn
    February 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm (1 year ago)

    I saw what others saw. Shiva was very welcoming of your touch, it got her revved up enough to want to play mid-way through the video and when play didn’t happen she spread the scritching around by offering you her butt :-) She seems very genuinely pleased to be touched.

    Now the kitty….that’s a different story…I am pretty sure I heard an “oh, sh!t, she’s gonna pick me up!” as he/she tried to retreat into the cat den.

    My dogs are opposites. Jimmy loves to be touched to the point that it gets downright annoying sometimes. He will sit next to the recliner on his dog bed, and jump up and poke your elbow with his nose so you will touch him. He will do this over and over again until you touch him. Wilson, on the other hand, will get up and move away if you sit too close. If he’s cornered, he has a little noise he makes that clearly means “don’t bother me”. It’s in no way a growl, it’s just a sound he knows we understand. Cardigans have a huge vocabulary of little grunts that they talk with. They are very good at getting their points across.
    Taryn recently posted..Broomhilda?My Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm (1 year ago)

      I know that annoyance quite well. So often I will be trying to write a blog post and Shiva will decide it’s time to play or give her affection. She’ll start pawing at the keyboard and attempt to knock the computer out of my lap. I am impressed she hasn’t broken it at this point!

      It’s awesome you are so aware of what your dogs’ signals mean. All of their little behaviours are so fascinating and so unique to each personality. It’s such a fun thing to study.

  18. Jennifer
    February 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm (1 year ago)

    She’s being very interactive with you, and presenting what she likes (scratch my butt!Yes!)

    In the short middle clip, she is in play mode, and it looks like SHE is rewarding YOU by letting you pet her on the head. But that’s the only bit that to me looked less like a dog that was soliciting some pettin’s.

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:57 pm (1 year ago)

      Huh, that’s a different thought, I didn’t think of it that way. Especially since during that clip I had a couple treats in my lap as a way to distract her. I was trying to get her to show what she doesn’t when she doesn’t want pets but it didn’t quite work. Maybe she let me pet her on the head because she thought it would get her the reward?

      Thanks for making me think!

  19. Sue
    February 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm (1 year ago)

    Right here goes, but please remember I do not have an ology in animal psychology:)

    Shiva was very pleased to see you…hint…wagging tail. She was asking you to play and showing her submissiveness to you by turning her bottom to you and also licking your mouth (something wolf pups would do to their mum for her to regurgatate (sp?) food).

    The cat was obviously saying, leave me alone slave. When I want you I will ring the bell for you:)

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm (1 year ago)

      Hahahaha! I think your interpretation was perfect, thanks for sharing. Are you sure you don’t have a degree?

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm (1 year ago)

      Wiggle worm indeed. :-)

      The cat and I will always have an awkward relationship. I think I might love him a little too much for his liking.

  20. Sammy Sam
    February 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Kristine, here’s our interpretation of what Shiva is telling you: Scratch my backside, rub my fronts, rub my backside, rub my fronts…The cat is think, OMG here comes my mom again. She wants to hug and cuddle a lot. We like being petted a lot. My dad’s better at it than our mom. He also gives away more treats. But we don’t like being picked up. Yup, dad tries to pick all all of us up. Sam doesn’t mind but we’re not so crazy about it.
    Sammy Sam recently posted..It’s a new year and I got some new wheelsMy Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm (1 year ago)

      Heh, I pick up Shiva sometimes too. I don’t know that she loves it but she is used to it. We turned it into a trick so that makes it a bit better. Anything that means treats!

      Maybe I need to do that with the cat?

  21. jet
    February 8, 2013 at 5:33 am (1 year ago)

    Shiva looked like she was doing the same thing Bender does, when she wants to play instead of accepting pats.

    Barbie often doesn’t want her personal space invaded. When I have just fed her and just before I go to sleep she comes and stands next to me for neck scritches. She is very low key compared to Shiva.
    Froufrou will accept attention at any time. She loves any kind of physical contact.

    Mittens is a more typical cat, much more like yours.

    My foster Ragdoll loves affection too and meows and meows and meows. He is just SO vocal. He doesn’t like to be picked up as much but accepts it. He doesn’t really sit on my lap, mainly because he is too big to fit comfortably.
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    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm (1 year ago)

      I would love to have a cat who enjoys affection one day. Ours is just not into it and it drives me crazy! I know it’s just who he is but I am jealous of anyone who has a cat who actually sits in their lap. One day…

      From what I have read, Shiva and Bender probably have a lot in common. Your stories about him always make me smile.

  22. acd6pack
    February 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm (1 year ago)

    I am in agreement with those who say that Shiva wanted you to get down and play at the mid point of the video. The cat? Well, I think that is typical. Same thing happens at our home even though Gerrard was raised from a few days old. he often gives that look that says, “don’t touch me!”

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm (1 year ago)

      My husband actually had The Cat from a very young age as well, just a few weeks old. He fostered him for a rescue group at the time and then kept him. It’s why he will always be the cat’s favourite and I am just a nuisance. :-P

  23. one person's view
    February 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm (1 year ago)

    Our Best Friend is game for petting every time. But man, that’s some furball of a kitty! (Okay, not the point of the video, but that’s my takeaway.)
    one person’s view recently posted..(Almost) Wordless Wednesday # 5My Profile

    • Kristine
      February 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm (1 year ago)

      Hahahahaha! He is, isn’t he? Especially this time of year. He isn’t shedding at all right now either, which is awesome. Come summer he always looks much thinner because most of his fur is in my vacuum cleaner.

  24. Jessica @ YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner
    February 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm (1 year ago)

    Timely post for us because we are attending a two-hour training on dog body language tomorrow. I want to learn how to read OTHER dog’s body language better so I know which dogs will set Chester and Gretel off and which ones are “safe”. I know those things aren’t fool proof but I think it will help.
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  25. 2 Punk Dogs
    February 9, 2013 at 10:00 pm (1 year ago)

    I agree with everyone that Shiva is definitely enjoying the attention and The Cat is not! My sister-in-law’s 2 cats were adopted as feral kittens and most people never see them when visiting. Her mom does not like cats at all, yet they’ll come out and sit right next to her and rub around her ankles looking for attention. I read somewhere that some cats feel threatened when people stare at them and try to pick them up, and are more comfortable when people ignore them. Maybe you could give The Cat a taste of his own medicine and he’ll eventually come around? :)
    2 Punk Dogs recently posted..Blizzard!My Profile

  26. BJ Pup
    February 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm (1 year ago)

    Your dog and cat have no trouble telling you what is they want when they want it. Scratching your dogs butt is a YES. When you picked up the cat she clearly said “Let me down”.

  27. Georgia Little Pea
    February 12, 2013 at 11:44 pm (1 year ago)

    I’m late but here’s my 2 cents>

    The cat! It’s best not to have low self-esteem around her LOL.

    I think Shiva enjoyed being patted in the beginning, with a preference for her bum. In the middle where everyone says she’s inviting a game, I see it a little differently. I think she wants to move on to whatever is next on the schedule…in this case, a walk perhaps? She looks to me to be pulling away. Georgia exhibits similar behaviour when it’s time for food or a walk and all she’s getting from us are pats and cuddles. Maybe [not]?
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  28. Therese
    August 19, 2013 at 5:41 am (12 months ago)

    Hi Kristine, for some reason your blog appeared on my news feed tonight and it’s title hooked me to take a look….you asked for comments on what others see on the video interacting with Shiva so, although I don’t agree with some of your previous commentators, here goes:
    At 0:7 you heavily fuss Shiva around her head and face, with a fast rubbing action.
    At 0:9 Shiva raises her paws to you. No response from you except to continue fussing.
    At 0:11 Shiva places her paws OVER your arm which is a clear signal she would like you to stop.
    At 0:14 She pushes her butt into you which is clearly telling you THIS is where I want to be scratched!
    At 0.19 When Shiva turned round to you again, you immediately fussed her around her face again – while missing her signal not to do so by her lowering her head and then the front of her body. When this still didn’t work she moved completely away from you.
    At 0:26 When you reached for Shiva your hand was poised over her head so she lifted her snout to prevent you touching her there.
    At 0:27 You repeated your last action and got the same response from Shiva – “please don’t touch my head”
    When Shiva voluntarily returned to you she clearly indicated again where she wanted to be scratched – on her butt, along her sides, under her ears. She was really happy while you did this but
    At 0:53 when you started to fuss her around her head again she leaned away from you again -backwards with her weight on her back legs.
    To sum up, Shiva is very happy to see you and wants to interact with you. In the only way she knows, she’s clearly telling you, in so many ways, what makes her uncomfortable. However, despite you are not understanding her, she remains calm and continues to show you affection. She is a great dog with a wonderful temperament from what I can see in the video and you are so lucky to have her.
    FYI – most, if not ALL dogs, do not like being patted on the head which they see as a threatening gesture. I know many people will say otherwise, but this only shows the level of tolerance our dogs have for us and our mistakes. This tolerance rarely extends to strangers however. Another thing dogs hate is to be hugged – yes, I said ‘hugged’! Again, some dogs will tolerate this from their owners but definitely not from strangers. Owners should be advocates for their dog and so prevent people putting them in positions where they feel uncomfortable; and this is of paramount importance when children are involved.
    I can see that you love Shiva very much and this love is returned by Shiva, and you are to be greatly complimented on wanting to learn more and do your best for Shiva. Some dogs are just not ‘touchy feel-y dogs’ and we must respect that and not impose on them. My own dog, who unfortunately went to Rainbow Bridge recently, was an absolute darling but would have nothing to do with snuggling, or me picking her up. I found this very, very hard during her last couple of months as I so wanted to hold her, snuggle with her and keep her safe. However, if I had done so I would only have distressed her and that was the last thing I wanted to do.
    I sincerely hope my comments have been constructive – if you would like any more information or links to articles please feel free to email me. Kind regards and the very best of luck in your life with Shiva :)
    P.S. I know very little about cats but I do recognise her body language…No! No! No! I want to be alone!


1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Translating Canine Body Language: Affection Isn’t Always Affection

  1. [...] most empathetic dog people I know, Kristine Tonks, for inspiring this post when she asked herself what her dog Shiva felt about physical affection. Kristine always gets me thinking, and not in a bad [...]

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