Why do dogs lean?
We worked at the hospital over the weekend and thankfully we did not have a repeat performance of one of THOSE days where I managed to get both Sam and I all twitter-patted about silly stuff. And despite it being hotter than bloody-blue-blazes in the Mile High City, we encountered no problems this time. No drama, no meltdowns, no lost ID badges or misplaced keys. It was pawsome and Sam was a rock star [note to self: act more like the dog and live in the moment, but I digress].
One thing I thought about while we were visiting the hospital was why does Sam lean against people so often? I know–weird but haven’t you ever wondered why your dog leans against you? Come on, fess up, you know you do. Most people don’t seem to mind the leaning, they say something like “aw, he’s a leaner, just like my Rusty was…how cute!” So it got me to wondering why dogs do that, and especially, why does Sam do it?
There are a few theories about why dogs lean. Some folks suggest the dog is trying to dominate or exert power over its human. They believe that the dog is trying to claim space or control the situation. Then there are those who think dogs lean to feel safe. They need to feel secure and the close touch reminds them of their litter mate days which, when you think about it makes sense since dogs are, after all ‘pack’ motivated. I tend to think that most of the time though, the dog is leaning because he’s just seeking attention.
Dogs lean for all those reasons at different times. Careful observation when they lean can provide clues in determining just why. Specific instances show how dogs react to different scenarios. Take for example a rescued dog. He may lean against you to feel more secure [oh thank god, she’s still here to protect me!]. Other times they may be looking for reassurance dealing with loud noises or when they’re in unfamiliar territory or around strangers. And sometimes, they just want you to pay attention to them, much like when you get that nose jerk under the arm “commanding” you to pet them or throw the ball or whatever at that moment. And that’s all wonderful in my books.
in Sam’s case I do think he wants
make that, craves attention. He just likes being around people and I can always tell when someone is especially high on his list of favs. We always check in at the nurses station to see if there are any patients who especially want to see a pet therapy dog or those that absolutely don’t (hey their loss, but whatever–not my circus, not my monkeys). I noticed our absolute favorite one was manning the station-a male nurse who just happens to be Scottish. Whenever I see him I’m completely delighted by his unbridled enthusiasm for people and his love of dogs and then of course there’s that wonderful lilting brogue! Sam adores him and when we saw him Saturday, the two of them greeted each other like two long lost BFF’s. He shared a couple stories about his own two dogs with me and I started to notice that Sam was leaning in pretty hard (while I’m just swooning at listening to him…I know, shameless-what can I say?). But his voice is so soothing and that accent–oh my stars!! He noticed Sam was leaning against his leg and chuckled out loud about it. “My Scottish Terriers don’t do that to me, it’s lovely that Sam does,” he said in that wonderful brogue (OMG, can you just hear it?). You’d have thought he hung the moon for Sam (not to mention for me) and well he kind of did. 🙂
After our chat we went off to visit patients and Sam seemed especially keen on leaning on people that day. He sat in front of a visitor in one room and leaned heavily against his leg. Everyone of the visitors in the room said “oh that Paul…dogs just love him” and I knew what they meant. He was kind and Sam couldn’t stop leaning and looking up at the guy. Even the patient commented on it and I think poor Paul was a bit embarrassed. No matter to Sam. It was heaven to this goofy Standard Poodle. And when my pup is happy, I’m happy. <3
So the bottom line I guess is in Sam’s case he probably does just want the attention. Then again maybe it’s his own way of giving attention back to a receptive soul. Either way, we’re all the better for it. Hope your weekend was as grand as ours. 🐾