We’ve all heard the classic “Lean on Me”, by Bill Withers. It’s a call to be friend to someone who needs it the most. What better friend is there than the unconditional love and affection shown to us by man’s best friend – our dogs? Some of the ways our pooches show their appreciation for us are easy to notice: a wagging tail, sloppy kisses, and jumping up. However, there is another more subtle sign of affection you may notice your dog displaying. Let’s explore the meaning behind why dogs lean on their owners.
What’s in a Lean?
Dogs are some of the most expressive animals that we interact with on a day-to-day basis. Through careful selection, breeding, and training we’ve come to create close connections and the ability to communicate verbally and nonverbally with the species. Dogs have learned how to communicate with us as well primarily through body language. Naturally as humans we are inclined to uncover meaning behind certain behaviors. One of the more peculiar ways some dogs communicate is to press up against their owner or to “lean” against their legs when standing. Many owners find this behavior endearing, others are confused by it. What does it mean?
Many experts are divided on this one because too often dog behavior is attributed simply to expressions of dominance. This isn’t always the case, but attributing instances of leaning to dominance deserves to be mentioned because it does happen. Watch dogs as they play and jockey for pack position. They tend to stand close to their challenger, brushing their body up against and sometimes forcing themselves on top of them. Dominance doesn’t automatically mean your dog wants to control you or sees himself as more powerful – in fact, it simply may be them trying to make sure you’re giving them attention they feel they deserve.
Dogs have an uncanny sense for detecting strange situations and danger. We refer to this as a sixth sense. Next time your dog leans into you, take note of the situation and your surroundings. Did something in your environment trigger your dog’s behavior and switch them into a protective mode? People, dogs, cars, sounds, etc? Leaning can be a sign that your dog is uneasy and wants make sure you’re close so that they can protect you and you can protect them.
We’ve all suffered from it in one instance or another and man’s best friend is no different. A dog who is shy will typically have its tail between its legs and make little to no eye contact. They will be passive, not demonstrative. When a dog feels quite uncomfortable they will seek security and assurance from their owner by leaning on them. This close body contact is like you telling them, “It’s ok, everything will be all right.”
The ranch is better than allright, it’s a blast!
Understanding your dog’s behavior is one of the best ways you can be a better, more effective owner. That’s why at Pawderosa Ranch we work closely with owners and their pets to ensure there is understanding and education throughout our dog boarding process. We want to meet your dog’s individual needs and make them excited about staying at the ranch. Contact us today for more information!