Touchy feely

As I type this Elsa is across my lap.  Not the easiest way to type but we make it work.  Elsa is what I call, touchy, feely.  There isn't a better name for her need to touch.  I've used the term before; Tilley was very much not a touchy feely type of gal and we have in all our years of having dogs never had one with the degree of it as Elsa.  She came this way, from the moment she joined our family things were different for the other dogs and for us.

I often talk to people who wish they had a dog that loved to snuggle.  Many dogs are not fans of hugging or having very close proximity to even their owners.  Some dogs love snuggling with their owners but as far as people they don't know; keep your distance.  Each and every one is different, very,very different.  Luke is very affectionate, he loves to get in close and snuggle tight.  He can snuggle for a very long time before growing tired of it.  We actually have snugglefests.  Like I said, Tilley was not the snuggly type although she loved to lay on our lap and was always close.  But she was never comfortable with being hugged, that is if you approached her for a hug.  If she was beside you on the couch she loved to hug and I could even put her on my lap and hug away and she enjoyed that.  

Dogs are so sensitive in their communications that there can be the most subtle changes in affection that we sometimes don't get.  Our body language says a lot to a dog and as humans we typically don't get how to approach or interact with dogs appropriately.  I know lots of people who feel like they should be able to walk up to any dog, pet, hug or kiss them.  This is a very unwise thing to do.  Many people also want to get their face right there, in a dogs face; this is also not a good idea.

 What an owner can do is extremely different from what a stranger can do and be accepted as an okay behavior.  I'm a crazy dog lover as you all know but there are lots of dogs that I never touch, even the cutest ones.  Then there are times when I pet a dog because I have read all the signs.  Last weekend I met a huge doodle, a Golden Doodle who was not golden but gray.  He was really huge, one of the biggest I've seen and gave off the "Golden" lovebug vibe.  He was sitting getting his picture taken by me and then I approached him for a chest rub.   I bent down, turned sideways and scratched away.  He put his head back, got googly eyes and rested his very large paw on my arm.  He was accepting of the interaction.  But that is as far as I took it, even that was a lot for a stranger greeting in my books.

I remember another time when I actually kissed a dog on the face; the act itself caught me off guard.  I shocked myself, strange eh?  This is something I would never do but this 5 month old Borzoi that I was shooting kept wrapping her long neck around mine and smelling my face.  Several times I pet her head and her face as she did this and then after about 30 minutes of interacting she continued with her desire to be very close.  When she wrapped that gloriously long neck around mine again, bringing her face across mine I had no choice but to kiss it.  I think what shocked me was that she was big, seemingly much older but she was just a baby.  Typically you can do much more as far as touching with a baby.  I've picked up lots of puppies and kissed them, it a good interaction if they feel the same.   She was probably 28" tall at the time, a very big puppy.

So back to Miss Elsa, the most touchy feely girl that I know.   She often pushes the limit with Luke and she did with Tilley, draping herself completely over her.  She is a weighty dog, which I have talked about.  Even though she is under 50 lbs she feels like she is made of lead.  So her touchy feely stuff can be annoying if you are under it.  Each morning when she comes onto the bed she lays her whole body over mine, that's where she likes to be.  With strangers she is bubbly and likes touch but it is still very different than her own pack.

Dogs like people are all different.  You must accept who they are as an individual and if that is a non affectionate type then that is who they are.  Many dogs can learn to enjoy touch, it just takes time and patience.  I am learning to be Elsa's pillow, a different roll for me.  But know your dogs boundaries with strangers.  I know I don't want a stranger coming up and hugging me, something bad most definitely would come out of that behavior.


  1. Mandi is very touchy with me, if she had her way she would spend the entire day with her body draped over mine. When I am working she constantly comes over and puts her head on my hand on the heyboard, tries to drape herself across my lap. In bed, she sleeps on her side of the bed, but as soon as I just twitch in the morning, she is across my body. With strangers at home she needs time to even allow a pet on the head, she will go up to them and smell and run away, and back to smell and run away. If I tell her to sit and "be nice",then she will allow a pet, but I have to tell her. Away from the house, on leash she will allow pets, I just tell people to approach her slowly and put out their hands at first for her to smell, and then she allows a pet. I took her with me to watch a soccer game last weekend and she had a lot of attention paid to her, all the kids wanted to pet her and she was very good about it. She is better with children than she is with adults. At home loose off leash she is wary. I certainly do know what you mean about learning to be Elsa's pillow. I feel like a body pillow. Isn't it great? I love it.

  2. My Scout was a 100 + pound lover-boy. He believed in a 1,000 points of contact with me, and if could have melded his body into mine, to make us one, he would have been in bliss!

    His preference was adults, although he tolerated everybody, but his real love were females, so that he could put his "Nobody ever loved or petted me" baby act on, and get all kinds of loving. It worked pretty much every time, as he had all sorts of females wrapped around his enormously big paws!


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