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Hello all! I've had my dog Kramer for a little over a month now. For the most part I am loving it, but a few of my dogs behaviors have me puzzled so I thought I'd ask what some more experience dog owners might think the dog is thinking/wanting/doing.

1) Every time I lie down on the ground on my back, the dug hustles over to me and places a paw (or two paws) up on my chest / neck. With his tail between his legs, he licks me in the face repeatedly. He typically will lean a lot of weight onto my chest or neck.
MY RESPONSE: I typically just pet him and take it as an affectionate time.

It's the best affection I can get going with him because:

2) When I approach him to pet him, he will roll onto his back with his tummy in the air.
MY RESPONSE: Rub his tummy for a short bit and then leave him be.

The more concerning issues: I gave up a while back on getting the dog to avoid the couch*. We don't spend much time there, so he basically has it to himself most of the time. A lot of the time he prefers to lie other places like his crate, however. Anyway, sometimes we'll go to visit him on the couch to pet him, lie down next to him, etc, and more than once he has:

3a) Rolled onto his back and started squirming around vigorously. He opened his mouth and, still on his back, began "nipping" (I guess?) at us. That is, he opened his fangs and kinda 'whacked' them into us as if he was going to bite, like placing my knee or shin or hand or whatever inside of his opened mouth but not actually biting down. We left and bribed him off of the couch with a treat every time. But what is his deal? Is he territorial of the couch?
MY RESPONSE: Back off, bribe him off the couch with the treat and show him some affection with "good boy!" and some petting on the head.

3b) When we did decide to use the couch for our own purposes, i.e., to watch a movie, Kramer got between us and pushed rather forcefully with his paws as if to push us off. After trying to pet him and trying to deflect his pushing, I gently picked him up and put him on the ground. After this he approached me, looking straight at me with his mouth slightly open, lips peeled back and showing his full teeth. Note that his teeth were slightly apart, his teeth were not clenched. It was a face I had never seen out of him and it was pretty scary. It seems like it would be less scary to get the typical growling/teeth clenched/teeth exposed face.
MY RESPONSE: Went and got him a treat, encouraged him away from the couch, had him sit and shake hands for the treat and praised. (When I went back to the couch, the same thing repeated, and I responded the same way, but after giving him the treat, I encouraged him to go to his crate to calm down with another treat and he was calm in there.)

4) He follows me everywhere, everywhere, everywhere within the house. He wants to sleep in my bed. When I shower he'll lie down outside of the bathroom and wait for me.
MY RESPONSE: None in particular, I pet him when I can, though.

* At first I was very strict about moving him off of the couch every time I'd see him, and saying "No" when I'd see him about to hop up, and giving him treats to get down, and etc. But every single time I'd turn my head, he'd just go straight back up there. Since I'm not going to always be home to enforce the rules, and since he was just waiting for a chance to not have me watching, I figured it wouldn't work. Neither my girlfriend nor I use the couch very often, except when my back is really hurting and I need to lie down with ice (less than a half hour per day on average), so we can't use our presence as a means of monitoring the dog and encouraging him to stay off. So we just gave up, but we do encourage his crate as his place to lounge.

The nipping / teeth are my main concern. Is my dog becoming territorial of the couch? Is he afraid of me or does he like me and trust me?

Thanks for your time! Any input welcome!
 

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Almost everything you described sound like play to me. And submission- the rolling over, licking, etc. It sounds like fun! Enjoy it! If I lay on the floor, my pups know it is PARTY TIME!

I think the amount of mouthing- the hand in mouth w/o biting down- you need to figure out and use the "Bite Stops Here" sticky. But it sounds totally OK in my book for one of my dogs. for my pitt mix, we don't allow any mouthing and she doesn't seem to want to play that way.


Hello all! I've had my dog Kramer for a little over a month now. For the most part I am loving it, but a few of my dogs behaviors have me puzzled so I thought I'd ask what some more experience dog owners might think the dog is thinking/wanting/doing.

1) Every time I lie down on the ground on my back, the dug hustles over to me and places a paw (or two paws) up on my chest / neck. With his tail between his legs, he licks me in the face repeatedly. He typically will lean a lot of weight onto my chest or neck.
MY RESPONSE: I typically just pet him and take it as an affectionate time.

It's the best affection I can get going with him because:

2) When I approach him to pet him, he will roll onto his back with his tummy in the air.
MY RESPONSE: Rub his tummy for a short bit and then leave him be.

The more concerning issues: I gave up a while back on getting the dog to avoid the couch*. We don't spend much time there, so he basically has it to himself most of the time. A lot of the time he prefers to lie other places like his crate, however. Anyway, sometimes we'll go to visit him on the couch to pet him, lie down next to him, etc, and more than once he has:

3a) Rolled onto his back and started squirming around vigorously. He opened his mouth and, still on his back, began "nipping" (I guess?) at us. That is, he opened his fangs and kinda 'whacked' them into us as if he was going to bite, like placing my knee or shin or hand or whatever inside of his opened mouth but not actually biting down. We left and bribed him off of the couch with a treat every time. But what is his deal? Is he territorial of the couch?
MY RESPONSE: Back off, bribe him off the couch with the treat and show him some affection with "good boy!" and some petting on the head.

3b) When we did decide to use the couch for our own purposes, i.e., to watch a movie, Kramer got between us and pushed rather forcefully with his paws as if to push us off. After trying to pet him and trying to deflect his pushing, I gently picked him up and put him on the ground. After this he approached me, looking straight at me with his mouth slightly open, lips peeled back and showing his full teeth. Note that his teeth were slightly apart, his teeth were not clenched. It was a face I had never seen out of him and it was pretty scary. It seems like it would be less scary to get the typical growling/teeth clenched/teeth exposed face.
MY RESPONSE: Went and got him a treat, encouraged him away from the couch, had him sit and shake hands for the treat and praised. (When I went back to the couch, the same thing repeated, and I responded the same way, but after giving him the treat, I encouraged him to go to his crate to calm down with another treat and he was calm in there.)

4) He follows me everywhere, everywhere, everywhere within the house. He wants to sleep in my bed. When I shower he'll lie down outside of the bathroom and wait for me.
MY RESPONSE: None in particular, I pet him when I can, though.

* At first I was very strict about moving him off of the couch every time I'd see him, and saying "No" when I'd see him about to hop up, and giving him treats to get down, and etc. But every single time I'd turn my head, he'd just go straight back up there. Since I'm not going to always be home to enforce the rules, and since he was just waiting for a chance to not have me watching, I figured it wouldn't work. Neither my girlfriend nor I use the couch very often, except when my back is really hurting and I need to lie down with ice (less than a half hour per day on average), so we can't use our presence as a means of monitoring the dog and encouraging him to stay off. So we just gave up, but we do encourage his crate as his place to lounge.

The nipping / teeth are my main concern. Is my dog becoming territorial of the couch? Is he afraid of me or does he like me and trust me?

Thanks for your time! Any input welcome!
 

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Hi! How old is your dog? I really thing he is just playing with you and showing affection in all of the situations mentioned. When you’re lying on the floor and he comes over to play he is just excited that you are down at his level. Josie puts her tail between her legs and he ears flat back when we get home from work. Her little body is just so excited that she is almost shaking and she has this amazing smile on her face for the first few minutes. Kind of a, yay you’re here and I love you thing.

The rolling on his back thing when you pet him. Some may say that he is being submissive but mostly he just likes tummy rubs and has figured out that if he lays on his back then you’re going to give them to him. I’ve had dogs in the past that love them and some are indifferent. Josie only likes them when she is lying on the couch, she will roll into us with her paws in the air and this look on her face.

As for the couch thing, it sounds like your dog wants to play with you. It actually sounds like he has great bite inhibition so he knows better than to bite down. He still wants to play though and using his mouth is a natural dog thing, it’s how they explore the world. It’s kind of their version of rough housing. I really don’t think it’s territorial at all because he sounds relaxed and happy. Rory, the mix we adopted a few months ago loves to use his moth during play. He will jump on the couch and start mouthing my hand while his tail is wagging as an invitation to play. As a side note, the fact that he has great bite inhibition is a very good thing. In my opinion it makes him a safer dog to have around because he knows how to express himself with his mouth without causing pain. For example, when Josie is playing with the cats, I don’t worry if she has her mouth on them because when she plays with us she never applies to much pressure. She is aware how much is and is not appropriate. This is proven by the cat playing with her instead of taking off at the sight of her.

And lastly the face you described with him showing you teeth. I call that fox face. It’s kind of an exaggerated smile for dogs. I bet his tail was wagging and there was a play bow involved during the same time. How do you play with him? If you don’t want to indulge in the rough housing, get some toys and try playing tug of war. Maybe teach your dog how to play fetch and toss him a few toys. He sounds like an amazing dog and I would love to see some pics.
 

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My unproffesional opinion is that your dog needs to learn bite inhibition for the mouthing if he does it ever to rough. :) It sounds like he loves your couch. I would definitely encourage the crate as his place of rest ... unless you really want him to use the couch full time. :)

As for the teeth baring ... dogs will sometimes " smile " as a way of saying that they are not intending on causing you any harm. But if he is growling or acting aggressive and being a resource guarder ... he needs training for sure. You do not want him to just take over and bully you around because he can ... or worse yet you or someone else be bitten by him. You do not want to allow him to be a resource guarder.

I once had a large dog of a rescue who took over my bed to the point that when I came home from work ... I could not even get near the bed for fear of being bitten. He would bare his teeth and growl, which was giving me fair warning ... and the closer I came to the bed .. the more fierce the growling became and when he stiffened his body ... I knew he was about to bite and had to back off for sure! He was a big time resource guarder. He had to be re-trained that my bed was NOT his property. This particular dog was not " Smiling " at me.

Just some things to ponder.

Following you around is loyalty in my books and maybe a little " neediness " combined. Rolling over is usually an act of being submissive. He is saying it is ok and he is not meaning any harm ... and he also may just want a belly rub.

Never the less . IMHO he needs to learn that the couch belongs to the humans. :)

Not that any of what I have stated is a cure or 100% correct ... but just what I am seeing in my minds eye. I am sure someone who is more experienced in behavioral issues will come along with some answers.

Good luck in your quest. :)
 

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The answers are good, I don't have much additional to offer:
1. Licking - I assume that Kramer is a young dog. Licking is always a good sign. Keep up the scratching.
2. Bellyrub - Sit down or lie down and watch TV, while you rub his belly. Dogs love it, keep it up for as long as you have the patience.
3. Couch - If you want him off the couch, block access by putting pillows on the couch or move the cushions sideways.
3. Biting - He's playing - if you like it you can roughhouse gently, if not, you can ignore it and he will stop....
3b. He's still playing, you can jiggle his legs, and he'll nip your hands... you can gently jiggle his mouth.

Petting:
1. A dog likes to be stroked, rubbed, or scratched. Patting is not as good (you didn't say this, but just in case.)
2. If your fingernails are short, dogs like a massage in their ears - gentle and careful... do it right and you'll hear moans...
3. If the dog resists the massage, then just rub the ear flaps between two fingers... he'll let you know what he likes.
4. Scratch him all over, and you'll see some spots are better than others - jaw and chin; neck and throat (avoid the 'voicebox'); shoulder; outside of the knee of the back legs; base of the tail; just a gentle back stroking from head to tail; brushing with a dog brush...
 

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That teeth baring thing sounds like a submissive smile. I had a friend who had a doberman that did that. It was the scariest thing I'd ever seen until my friend explained it to me.

All the rest sounds like normal, playful dog to me.
 

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That teeth baring thing sounds like a submissive smile. I had a friend who had a doberman that did that. It was the scariest thing I'd ever seen until my friend explained it to me.

All the rest sounds like normal, playful dog to me.
This exactly.

Read or watch Calming Signals: On Talking Terms with Dogs by Turid Rugas. Once you're familiar with calming signals, you can see your dogs giving them to you and you can send some right back.

Other than that, it sounds like your dog is lacking in confidence. Part of that could just be his personality AND he's only been with you for a month. Check out Kikopup on youtube. Clicker training and shaping specifically are big confidence boosters.
 

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How old is your dog?... How do you play with him?
About 9 months now. We got him from a shelter. He doesn't seem to be big on playing. When he's in the mood, he'll go after the tennis ball but we're still working on bringing it back. He loves to chew things up so we have a Kong chew toy and a few others that he can chew on. We go for runs together which he seems to really get a kick out of, so I'd consider that playing / exercising!

Thanks for the input. So is there an easy way to distinguish aggression and playfulness?
 

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So is there an easy way to distinguish aggression and playfulness?
For some behaviors it really just depends on the dog and the more you get to know your dog the easier it'll be to tell. Mostly it's helpfully to be able to read their body language and tell if they are relaxed or not, when they are relaxed it's pretty much always playful. Play is also often started with a play bow, front paws stretched out in front of them with their butt up in the air.

My boy is a vocal player with a 'scary' sounding play growl. I love to rough house and wrestle with him and if someone unfamiliar with dog body language walked in on us they might think he was attacking me. It's all play and he knows he can only rough house like that with me or my brother and not random people, though if someone starts playing rough with him he WILL respond in kind which some people don't like. If they get upset I just tell them to not start what they can't finish, and if it's more than you can handle simply tell him "off" and he'll stop.

As others have suggested read up on dog body language as it really helps.
 

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When you lay down on the ground and he lays or puts his legs over you, or even stands over you he is showing dominance over you. He is showing he is leader over you.2. When you approach him to pet him and he rolls over he is showing submission (that is what you want him to do)he is excepting your leadership. You want to stop the first incident. 3. With the coach issue teach the dog the command off every time he trys to get onto the couch. Grab him by the collar and move him off tell him mine. He has to ask before you allow him on any furniture even you bed. Dogs are suppose to be lover then the owner not at the same level or above the owner. Your dog was taking charge claiming your coach and he wasn't going to let you take him off. Everything you own and the dog has are yours nothing belongs to the dog. You have to stand your ground and take charge tell him pointing to the coach mine off firmly. A dog can sense a weak leader, fear in a person, and they know if the know knows how to do things. You have to pretend you know what you are doing if you don't the dog will take over. Avoid the coach altogether you need to establish leadership with the dog first and the dog needs to learn to submit to you. you are having leadership issues. Since you have given up with the couch and your bed incidents you have given in to the dog and your dog knows it and he how much he can get away with it. You need to crate him when your not at home. Your dog has claimed your couch to be his he has won that fight. Its not that he is afraid of you your afraid of him. Your afraid to take charge over your dog, your afraid to take leadership over your dog. You need to be strict with him and take that all away from him. There will be a battle over that but the outcome will be worth it and those behaviors would be gone.
I am a obedience dog trainer and service dog trainer.
 

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When you lay down on the ground and he lays or puts his legs over you, or even stands over you he is showing dominance over you. He is showing he is leader over you.2. When you approach him to pet him and he rolls over he is showing submission (that is what you want him to do)he is excepting your leadership. You want to stop the first incident. 3. With the coach issue teach the dog the command off every time he trys to get onto the couch. Grab him by the collar and move him off tell him mine. He has to ask before you allow him on any furniture even you bed. Dogs are suppose to be lover then the owner not at the same level or above the owner. Your dog was taking charge claiming your coach and he wasn't going to let you take him off. Everything you own and the dog has are yours nothing belongs to the dog. You have to stand your ground and take charge tell him pointing to the coach mine off firmly. A dog can sense a weak leader, fear in a person, and they know if the know knows how to do things. You have to pretend you know what you are doing if you don't the dog will take over. Avoid the coach altogether you need to establish leadership with the dog first and the dog needs to learn to submit to you. you are having leadership issues. Since you have given up with the couch and your bed incidents you have given in to the dog and your dog knows it and he how much he can get away with it. You need to crate him when your not at home. Your dog has claimed your couch to be his he has won that fight. Its not that he is afraid of you your afraid of him. Your afraid to take charge over your dog, your afraid to take leadership over your dog. You need to be strict with him and take that all away from him. There will be a battle over that but the outcome will be worth it and those behaviors would be gone.
I am a obedience dog trainer and service dog trainer.
/facepalm
(too short)
 

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When you lay down on the ground and he lays or puts his legs over you, or even stands over you he is showing dominance over you. He is showing he is leader over you.2. When you approach him to pet him and he rolls over he is showing submission (that is what you want him to do)he is excepting your leadership. You want to stop the first incident. 3. With the coach issue teach the dog the command off every time he trys to get onto the couch. Grab him by the collar and move him off tell him mine. He has to ask before you allow him on any furniture even you bed. Dogs are suppose to be lover then the owner not at the same level or above the owner. Your dog was taking charge claiming your coach and he wasn't going to let you take him off. Everything you own and the dog has are yours nothing belongs to the dog. You have to stand your ground and take charge tell him pointing to the coach mine off firmly. A dog can sense a weak leader, fear in a person, and they know if the know knows how to do things. You have to pretend you know what you are doing if you don't the dog will take over. Avoid the coach altogether you need to establish leadership with the dog first and the dog needs to learn to submit to you. you are having leadership issues. Since you have given up with the couch and your bed incidents you have given in to the dog and your dog knows it and he how much he can get away with it. You need to crate him when your not at home. Your dog has claimed your couch to be his he has won that fight. Its not that he is afraid of you your afraid of him. Your afraid to take charge over your dog, your afraid to take leadership over your dog. You need to be strict with him and take that all away from him. There will be a battle over that but the outcome will be worth it and those behaviors would be gone.
I am a obedience dog trainer and service dog trainer.


Oh snap, this makes perfect sense. I wish I had learned about dominance earlier!
 
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