I Wanna Hold Your Haaand!

Rock-It asks to be petted.  I ask her how.

Rock-It with her front paw resting in my hand

And I get a Beatle’s song!

In reality, what I get is a dog who doesn’t really know how to tell me where or how she wants to be touched.  But she’s figuring it out.

Rock-It struggles often with impulse control.  And with wanting physical contact, but doing so in a way that means a lot of bashing around, explosions and disengagement.  It’s actually interesting to watch her pattern unfold.  And start to see the confusion she suffers with every interaction.

She’s so used to people touching her in ways that are beyond her control, that it becomes a form of punishment.  She’s so used to people getting upset when she’s hurts them with her leaping and bashing (trust me, she hurts.  She’s nearly broken my face a number of times in the years I’ve known her).  She’s so used to restraint being part of contact (in part for human self preservation, she wants to be near and be touched so to limit risk of an unexpected leap up, people restrain her in some form hand in collar or otherwise), an unwanted part of contact, that she is a very conflicted sweet dog.

But she’s starting to figure out how to lead the dance.  That I want her to tell me where and how she wants.  That I won’t force her.  That she can leave at any time.  She’s still trying to believe me.  But she’s trying.

She comes up, I offer my hand.  It’s up to her what to do with it.  If she puts her paw it it, I’ll pet her foot then pause.  It’s up to her what to do with it.  Move it, walk away, lie down, nudge me, up to her.  She’s starting to do more than give me her paw.  Now sometimes I get an ear to rub.  Or a cheek to scritch.  Sometimes a bridge of a nose to rub.  Before she used to freeze the moment I started to touch her, freeze or leave (then usually return right in at speed only to leave once more).  Conflicted.  Now sometimes when I pause, she asks me to do more.  She moves my hand to where she wants.  Little by little she’s figuring out it doesn’t have to be about speed, control, explosions, confusion.  It can be about communication.

Rock-It and I paw and hand.



7 thoughts on “I Wanna Hold Your Haaand!

  1. My brother’s dog Ripley will come and rest a paw on my leg when she wants to be pet. Or my hand, whichever is closest. My little derp just plops herself right on top of me and whatever I’m reading. XD

  2. Explosions and face bashing! That’s my Dane Walter. Add some back clawing and foot tromping and we’re nearly there. But he loves to be touched. Once he calms down a bit he’ll snuggle up like a proper gentle-dog. He’s my Jekyll and Hyde.

  3. This post has made me very thoughtful and watchful of my dog. I have the easiest going dog ever, so no fear of face bashing. We’ve developed a routine in our mudroom as we’re getting ready to go out in the mornings of extra ear or face rubs, and he will nose up close and then move his face around depending on where he wants to be scratched. It’s nice to be attuned to his needs/desires and interact on his terms. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. He sounds so sweet and that you 2 have a kind relationship. I feel it is important to be attuned to the needs and desires of others in our lives, the animals and pets included. Thank you for the smile as I imagine your dogs morning door routine 🙂

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