Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long
’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on. – Bill Withers
Is your dog a leaner? Why do dogs lean? Is it like the one TV personality espouses; they are trying to dominate you? Is it a sign of affection? Is it a way to calm themselves? Is it a sign of fear or of attention seeking?
It could be any of these plus many more. Dogs lean on people for all kinds of reasons, depending on the dog and the exact situation.
One of the biggest mistakes we make with our dogs is to treat them like humans. The human race is a compassionate species that tend to look at our canine companions as little humans. When in reality, they are canines, and have a very different thought process.
Dogs are expressive animals with a lot to say. They’ve learned to understand the language of people, both verbal and nonverbal. They’ve learned to convey their needs to us as well. People spend countless hours and lots of money trying to decipher doggy dialect. It’s quite an amazing feat that dogs “get people” the way they do. For example, when a dog wants to give us a warning, they show their teeth. But when people want to show friendship, they smile. Seeing a human face split in a broad grin coming straight at a dog’s face should alarm the dog, yet dogs have learned it’s not a bad thing. Some dogs have even mastered the submissive grin, a kind of doggy smile some dogs display when they’re happy. When a dog wants to challenge another dog, he will stare deeply into his opponent’s eyes. Yet when a person wants to show a dog affection, he looks lovingly into his dog’s eyes. It was all part of domestication.
Dogs communicate with us on all levels and there’s a reason for what they do. We are the ones that have trouble understanding what they are trying to tell us.
When my dog leans I think it is just his way of telling me how safe he feels when with me. He’s showing he is relaxed and happy. Okay, I do not know if that is true, but it is what I like to believe. There are several other things he could be trying to communicate with me when he does this, but I do not believe that when he leans he is displaying a dominate behavior. That is where this post comes from. I was told recently that my big oaf of a dog is trying to dominate me. Yes, there are times he annoys me by putting his paws on me, using his nose to make me pet him and insistently feeling the need to be touched. I have never felt, however, he was trying to dominate me.
I do not know why dogs lean. In my world it is never a bad thing when my dog shows me how much he loves me by leaning on me. And, in my world that is how I interpret what he is trying to tell me. I understand that is not true for everyone. What have your experiences been with a leaning dog?
Until the next post remember: Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always human.