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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I can't tell if my 8 year old Beagle/Bassett enjoys being petted or not. To give context, she is generally a low-energy, calm girl (never barks, except when she's dreaming or smells something good outside!) and spends most of her time lazing around - so, I don't expect her to jump for joy when I pet her. When I pet her, she just, freezes. She will walk up to me, tail wagging, and I will bend down to pet her. When I start, she stops wagging her tail. She doesn't try to escape - she'll let me scritch her for minutes on end, and sometimes even seems to fall asleep a little. (Edit to clarify: That last bit is every time I pet her, not just when I bend over her.)

The only somewhat clear "no thank you" signal she gives off is, she sometimes slinks back a little bit if I try to pet the top of her head while I'm standing. But I've found that she doesn't do so when I pet her under the chin or on her behind. Or, when I'm sitting on the floor and she comes over to me. I just wonder why her excitement seems to go away when I pet her, and if she really just tolerates it but doesn't really enjoy it.

I'm just wondering, does anyone else have a weirdo dog like this?
 

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You have actually answered your own question.

When I pet her, she just, freezes. She will walk up to me, tail wagging, and I will bend down to pet her. When I start, she stops wagging her tail.
Most dogs feel a bit threatened when people bend over them. Try not doing that.
The rest of the answer you have figured out inadvertently. You get down on her level and she enjoys it.

Don't bend over her. It is pretty simple. I bet she likes petting a lot more when you don't do that.
 

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Can't say for sure without seeing it, but it sounds like she is enjoying most of it. My dogs do that too. They wagged their tails in anticipation if I was approaching to pet, or if they approached me. But the tail stops during the actual petting (my second dog's tail doesn't usually stop but it sometimes does). Their bodies are loose to the touch and I take the still tail as a sign of relaxation. The tail is still, but loose and neutral or down, not tucked. I know my dogs enjoyed the petting because if I stop, they often push their heads or bodies in for more.

If your dog backs away when you reach overhead, it doesn't necessarily means she doesn't like being pet at all. A lot of affectionate dogs can be afraid of overhead or sudden reaches. It sounds like you're already observant and trying different, short ways of interacting with your dog can tell you more. For example, rub her chest and see if she moves away or not. Approach from the side, etc. But you'll get a lot of information if you do something for 3 seconds and stop/assess.

ETA: "freezes" is a term used to describe stressed dogs. I don't know if you mean "not moving but loose" or "frozen stiff" because there is a difference.
 

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The video LeoRose posted is a good tutorial on dog body language. I don't think freezing is necessarily an indicator that she doesn't like it if not accompanied by those other stress signals, though. When my dog is getting a good butt scratch, he generally freezes, too, stops tail wagging. He's also leaning into me, though, and if I stop he will turn in a little circle and press his other side against me, then stare at me until I scratch him again.

The slinking back when you try to pet the top of her head is a clear "No", however. Many dogs don't like you coming directly at the top of their head. My dog doesn't, either, so I generally start by petting his chest and then move up to scratching his ears and the top of his head.
 

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One of our dogs doesn't really care for being petted on the head. Anywhere else is more than welcome, but he just doesn't like being petted on the head. In fact, he doesn't like things covering his head or going over his head either (like jackets, etc.).
 

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One way to tell if your dog likes your scritches or pets is to do it for 3-5 seconds and then stop. If they liked it, they'll let you know, usually by pawing or nudging your hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you all for your insights! Sometimes it's hard to tell with her - she does not easily get riled up by much of anything, so her reactions aren't really big. I totally get her disliking being pet from above - she is just a smol girl! I will read that blog and try to find that video.

They wagged their tails in anticipation if I was approaching to pet, or if they approached me. But the tail stops during the actual petting (my second dog's tail doesn't usually stop but it sometimes does). Their bodies are loose to the touch and I take the still tail as a sign of relaxation. The tail is still, but loose and neutral or down, not tucked.
ETA: "freezes" is a term used to describe stressed dogs. I don't know if you mean "not moving but loose" or "frozen stiff" because there is a difference.
Yes, she'll come right up to me tail wagging if I hold my hand out for her, so I don't think she's fearful of the interaction. She's a shy girl, so it's taken us a few months to get to the point where she's excited to see and come to me (I got her from a rescue at the end of October). She definitely isn't as still as a statue when I pet her - she'll shift on her feet while I'm doing it, and kind of melt into it. Her head will fall very slowly - I don't think in a "hunkered down" sort of way, but very slowly, like she's falling asleep. It's tough to tell. I'll study her reactions a little more!
 

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A dog I know only likes to be petted right above his tail. And he was very talkative body language wise. If I tried to pet his head, he simply turned away and shoved his butt into my hands. That was his way to tell me 'pet me there' and he made super cute sounds while I did so.
One way to tell what the dog likes is to stop petting at some point and see how the dog reacts. If it comes closer, I am pretty sure it likes it.
Other signs are calming signals. Does the dog blink slowly, looks away, licks his snout? Those would be signs that the dog does not feel comfortable.
 
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