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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Research => Topic started by: CarrieF on October 16, 2015, 05:55 AM

Title: Dog question
Post by: CarrieF on October 16, 2015, 05:55 AM
Dog Owners - What does a dog do when he or she doesn't want to be petted? Growl at you? Whine? Move away? Or maybe it's not an issue?

Also, would the dog have the same reaction to its owner as it would to someone less familiar, but still known (like a neighbor).


cat owner
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: Vonna on October 16, 2015, 06:08 AM
They're all different! If they know you well (family), I'd say most would just move away. For outsiders, it could be any of the above or worse! They would probably only whine if they were being forced to allow it (like making a child get hugged by the great-aunt she doesn't remember!). Otherwise, most would probably move away, hide, or growl.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: annemleone on October 16, 2015, 06:09 AM
Unless a dog is really freaked out, it wouldn't growl or whine over being petted. My dog just ducks his head, or circles away.  If it's me or my husband, and he's just tired and doesn't want to be bothered, he'll shift positions slightly, and won't lean into the pet like he usually does. He's a little nervous around people he doesn't know, and gets extra nervous when people try to touch his head from above (something about that downward motion). So I always tells kids to pet underhand. However, that said, even my shy rescue dog likes people, and tolerates petting pretty well. He doesn't lean into it unless it's clear someone knows what they're doing and he feels very comfortable. But he will let total strangers and kids pet him without moving, as long as they don't make any sudden motions or noises.

Hope that helps!
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: Kell on October 16, 2015, 06:50 AM
My dog is just like Anne's! He doesn't enjoy being petted by strangers but he tolerates it. He just stands there grudgingly.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: asingrey on October 16, 2015, 06:53 AM
Yeah, my dog would just move away from a family member. He's a really sweet dog, so he's never growled at anyone, but if he's nervous, his tail goes down between his legs and the hair on his backbone stands up. This  only happens with him if another dog is making him nervous, but I've seen rescue dogs that are less comfortable around people do this if someone gets too close at the dog park.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: annemleone on October 16, 2015, 06:59 AM
It does occur to me that it depends on the circumstances under which the dog is being petted. If he's on leash, with me by his side, he feels pretty confident. But if he were fenced in the back yard and someone approached him, he might go into guard dog mode and bark. If he got loose and lost, he'd probably be much warier of strangers--though I still don't think he'd growl or whine unless threatened. He probably would just run away.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: JFriday on October 16, 2015, 07:19 AM
Well, I have a golden retriever whose enthusiasm for anything humanoid knows no bounds. She would be delighted if Attila the Hun suddenly appeared in the living room and wanted to pet her.

Having said that, if I wake her up by sitting next to her on the sofa (yes, she claims the furniture) and patting her, she will lift a weary head and look at me. That's all, just look at me. I can hear her brain saying, "Would you kindly leave that until I don't feel like sleeping?"

Other dogs in my extended family aren't that easy going. We've had ones who are fine with family and friends but can't even be approached by strangers until after the owner greets the person. My sister had a dog who would growl at anyone except her if he didn't feel like being touched.

I think it depends entirely on what type of personality you want your dog to have. It can be friendly, stand-offish, unfriendly, or anywhere in between. If you're thinking of a particular breed, that might make a difference. Retrievers tend to be friendly, guard dogs like dobermans or shepherds are usually more reserved. We had dachshunds when I was growing up; they were yappy and would nip if someone they didn't know put their hands near their mouth before they'd calmed down; not a family member, but a stranger or even a neighbor.

If you have a mixed breed, you can probably make them have any personality you want.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: Vijaya on October 16, 2015, 07:39 AM
Well, I have a golden retriever whose enthusiasm for anything humanoid knows no bounds. She would be delighted if Attila the Hun suddenly appeared in the living room and wanted to pet her.

Hee hee. That's mine too, a golden-mix. Miss Friendly!!! "Pet me, pet me, pet me!" And the cat will swipe her if she gets too enthusiastic.

I've seen dogs that go hide behind their owners if they don't want to be petted or won't lean into the pet as Anne suggests.

Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: Mrs. Jones on October 16, 2015, 08:00 AM
Just like your human characters, your dog will have it's own personality and his/her reaction to situations will have a lot to do with the situation you put it in, and it's baseline temperament. So you might want to think more about who this dog is, and write the scene (or a few scenes) from his/her perspective.

And yes, a dog can have very different reactions to different people, even within their own household.

Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: dewsanddamps on October 16, 2015, 08:35 AM
We have a Shi Poo--a poodle/shi tzu mix. He's small, cute, and deadly. He would circle away from a family member if he didn't want to be petted. But if we met you out on a walk and you reached for him? We'd call you Lefty.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: EricJ on October 16, 2015, 09:24 AM
Yes, I've seen most dogs who don't want to be scratched behind the ears will just try to shake your hand off their head, to see if that works first. 
(And I'd put a dog smiley here, but we don't seem to have one besides Snoopy.)
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: Artemesia on October 16, 2015, 09:28 AM
we also have these!  :dogwalk :dog2

the codes are : dogwalk and : dog2 (with no space between the colon and code word)
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: June Smalls on October 16, 2015, 09:53 AM
Some dogs just lean away. You'll notice in a lot of photos of people hugging their dogs the dog is leaning because they don't want to be 'under' anyone (over top is a dominance thing for dogs). If they are well trained they will not react badly but the eyes down, lean away, walk away is common.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: 1846 on October 16, 2015, 10:33 AM
I have had two shih tzus - 13 is five years old and Oberon passed away a year and a half ago at 19. I never had any problem with either of them choosing to withhold affection from anyone, either a stranger, friend, or casual visitor. Both dogs are/were quite tolerant of casual petting and physical affection, though at times it's more like fulfilling a duty than truly enjoying the experience. The only time Oberon ever backed off from a visitor was when a very large, bearded gentleman came for the evening; I think he just found this guy's physical presence intimidating. Both dogs always enjoyed petting by children the most.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: Lill on October 16, 2015, 05:27 PM

This link will show you some common ways dogs behave when stressed or trying to avoid things.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: ChrisLH on October 16, 2015, 06:28 PM
I'm so glad Lill posted the link to dog body language. Notice the whale eye that the crated pup has.
Title: Re: Dog question
Post by: CarrieF on October 20, 2015, 06:08 AM
Great suggestions, everyone! Lill, that website is a goldmine, thank you!

1846 - I had a cat named Oberon! He was a sweetie. It's funny to see the similarities and differences in cat and dog behavior. My cat enjoys petting until suddenly she doesn't anymore and will then attack your hand in a "gentle" way (no actual teeth or claws). No mixed messages there!

Thanks to everyone for weighing in.